La Cadena Restaurant (Plaza Sucre, Tarija)
by Alison Donald
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)
If I lived in Tarija and frequented this place for lunch I would be VERY annoyed with anyone who recommended it and brought the crowds in. But I don’t live in Tarija and my concern is that people who find themselves in Tarija eat well.
Every so often I come across gems such as this one.
First appearances are not great. It is on Plaza Sucre (on the opposite side of the square if you were coming from the main plaza) but the banner above the door is huge and plastic and hideous. We stuck our heads round the door about five minutes past twelve only to be told that they didn’t open until noon! Ermm...
Maybe it is all a test. Once you get inside it is all double tablecloths and wooden furniture. La Cadena is a bar/ restaurant in the evening and a thoughtfully presented one at that. There is a beautiful beautiful beautiful wooden bar that goes almost across the length of the restaurant (it’s quite a small room) and spirit bottles lined up on the shelves on the back walls.
The lunch is a set menu, 4 courses for 22Bs (a little over US$3) and there is a choice of two different main courses (either caramelised pork or meatballs when we went).
The first course was a delicious (cold) vegetarian frittata, next a colourful vegetable soup, main course and red jelly (I think it was raspberry) for dessert.
The food was really great (easily the best I have had from a set menu in Bolivia) and the owners/ hosts are two very friendly French guys. We asked them a lot of questions about Tarija and they were really happy to answer.
They very modestly call their lunch sitting a “pension” which generally means a very basic place with food of variable (but edible) quality. This place is fantastic and deserves to be packed out (we were there until about 12:45pm but it was still quite quiet).
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