THE PLACE: Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant & Bar is tucked away in the shopping center at the corner of Prater Way and McCarran Boulevard in Sparks. The owners also operate Lupita’s in Incline Village.
THE LOOK: From the outside, it’s nothing special — like a typical strip mall restaurant facade. You get a better feel for the character of the place when you’re inside.
The dining room is well-lighted and filled with sports memorabilia, specifically soccer. There also are a bunch of neat old beer signs, mostly for Mexican beers like Pacifico and Corona. You can sit in the bar with multiple TVs or in the quieter dining room. The patio, hidden from the parking lot, is expansive.
THE MEAL: In order to try multiple items, I go for a combination plate. The six combo options don’t include all the items I want, but without hesitation, the waitress allows me to substitute in the pork tamale and asada sope. Each combo is $5.50 for lunch and comes with rice, beans and pico de gallo. Combo plates are $5.95 after lunch.
The tamale does its job and soaks up the delicious juice from the pork. It’s a tad small, but the corn is fluffy and the meat tender.
The sope is a wonderful mix of beef, shredded lettuce, tomato and queso fresco. It’s a little difficult to cut through the toasted tortilla with a fork (a knife isn’t provided), but once you do, it’s an awesome combination of gooey and crunch.
My buddy orders three tacos: two asada and one al pastor. Priced at $1 each, you cannot go wrong here. The menu also offers tongue, pork, chicken and beef tacos. I try a bite: They’re similar to tacos served at other local Mexican joints but addictive. For the price, I wish I’d ordered one on the side.
KUDOS: The bill comes to $9. This lunch could have been a 4 for $20 feature. Nearly all the dishes are less than $10, except when exploring deeper in the seafood portion of the menu. Affordability certainly is a plus.
QUIBBLES: The menu has at least 50 items, not including 32 lunch combo plates. It’s six pages, two of which are seafood. Having options is great, it really is, but it takes me 10 minutes to look over the menu.
ALTERNATIVES: As mentioned, Lupita’s takes its seafood options seriously, with five different types of ceviche. It also serves familiar Mexican restaurant dishes like burritos, chiles rellenos, enchiladas, fajitas and quesadillas. Tripe soup and stuffed peppers sound pretty good, too.
RETURN TRIP?: Oh yes. Excellent flavor at fast-food prices.