Laramie, Wyoming. An unexpected place to run across a Mexican restaurant with such authentic sabor. Tucked away in a nondescript corner mall between a nail salon and the US Army Recruiting Center, The Corona Village (motto: Andale, rápido!*), has cowboy-booted jalapeños painted on the wall (on the opposite wall, they are painted holding Corona and Negra Modelo beer bottles) — chasing a string of tacos.
From carne a la mexicana (steak strips sauteed with fresh pasilla chiles, onion, tomatoes, cilantro and a fresh molcajete sauce) to fish tacos, macho tacos, and their famous mango shrimp tacos — the menu (dishes photographed and arranged on the wall below the fleeing tacos) is diverse as any I have seen.
Joseph and I weren’t super-hungry, so we ordered a green chile burrito to share. When I ordered it over the short-order counter, the cook abruptly stopped chopping his carnitas and looked over his shoulder, curiously. Joseph raised his eyebrows as if to say “for real, carnal!” I chatted with the woman taking orders, who seemed to understand little English, so we went on in Spanish. Yes, to share. And we’ll take the free chips and salsa. A coke for Joseph. It was good to speak Spanish, and another bespectacled cook from the kitchen came over to wish me a pleasant afternoon — I think just to hear me speak.
The burrito was… ENORMOUS! And our lovely server said it was not even the biggest! “Los hombres son grandes en Wyoming!” We thought, even sharing, we would not be able to finish it. But danged it was good and we came close.
Joseph noted across the room, that they must be setting up lunch for the cooks, or for a family, as the server placed several enormous family-style plates on a long table. And one large “hombre de Wyoming” sat down and dug right in. Solo.
Our server (from Uruapan: “Yes, a shame they don’t keep up the park anymore”) invited us to come back again, hungrier. She said that she enjoyed speaking with me, as she spoke little English. She came up from Mexico to work, and work is what she did. All the time. There was no time to take classes. With few Mexican families in Laramie, she did have occasional opportunities to struggle with what little English she had in the grocery store and at church.
If you ever find yourself in Laramie, Wyoming — do check in. Corona Village. A worthy stop, a pleasant surprise, and if you go on Saturday or Sunday, free salsa and chips and a killer hot tomatillo salsa. Yum.
*Andale is one of those quintessential Mexican words… Guatemalans, Chileans, Cubans don’t say “ándale.” Not like Mexicans do. It means… “go ahead.” Or “move it!” Or “yes, of course!”