La Perla Tapatia

A Mexican restaurant that smells like a bar of handcrafted soap with a view of an Amish furniture store in a building called The Reed Opera House, that's not some Freudian nightmare, it's an actual restaurant in downtown Salem. La Perla Tapatia upstairs in The Reed Opera House is known around town for their $.99 tacos. In fact, Salem Monthly named them best Mexican Food. After trying the pollo and carne asada tacos I would have to say that they are among the best in town. With juicy chunks of steak and just the right amount of onions, cilantro and hot sauce, three of these tacos wasn't enough. Next time I'll order at least four but I will probably get them to go. To say that the atmosphere in this restaurant is odd would be an understatement. It's kind of a horseshoe shaped dining room with the center overlooking a wood furniture store on the first floor. That must be how the aroma of the soap leaks in. In the basement of the building is a store called S.L.A.B that sells $4 bars of soap that smell like peppermint oatmeal. The outer side of the dining room has a great view of the intersection of Court Street and Liberty. One thing they could do to liven up the place would be to have some Latin music playing in the background. Although I don't know how well that would go over with customers in the shop below. Another reason to get take out next time, is that the service was slow. Several tables were left unbussed which suggested to me that they were understaffed. And I was also disappointed in the chips and salsa. That's usually one of my favorite things about eating at a Mexican restaurant. But here, I thought that the salsa didn't seem very fresh. La Perla is a place I might go back to for lunch. I like The Reed Opera House a lot. With it's funky floor plan and stores it's always a fun place to dive into to escape the rain. And there's a cool little coffee/cafe in the basement called The Little Cannoli which makes great pastries and coffee. I've been meaning to get in there for a review, maybe Saturday.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great review. I've been meaning to check this place out. I also can't say just how awesome your blog is for this town. You do a great job.

Anonymous said...

La Perla is my new favorite Mexican restaurant by far! You can also order from them online at www.399dine.com for delivery (as well as a few other local restaurants). Best tacos in town!

Anonymous said...

so weird, i was going to go there tonight as someone gave me some "dining dough" for that place

Anonymous said...

I just read the article about La Perla Tapatia, and was shocked to hear that it was voted “ Salem ’s best” by the Salem Monthly. I went here back in the fall of ’07 with a friend of mine for some Mexican food that appeared to be very good from how the pictures appeared to be on their advertisement. When we got their though, we soon found out how far the experience was from what was originally thought.
To let you know, I have lived in Texas for all of my life, up to just a few years ago. So because of that, I have high expectations of any sort of Mexican food . Especially since I have eaten it every other day. But this was one of the worst places overall that I have ever eaten.
First of all, it was clearly obvious that the place was understaffed since I only saw 1 waitress and the bartender. Being patient though, we waited for quite a lengthy time till we got some service. When we did, we noticed that the food selection was so small the only time we took longer on the time to order food, is when the waitress had to get the manager(who we found out was the bartender) to come over and translate our English to her. We then waited another absurdly lengthy time till we got our food. When we did, it was cold and served in such messy little portions compared to what we were paying. The food was pretty mediocre too. Compared to other Mexican food that I have had in Oregon , it was disappointing, unappealing, and an absolute disgrace. So much, I had to actually apologize to the friend that went with me, for picking the place.
However, if you are ever interested in great Mexican food that is the best thing since salsa, go to Chula Vista Mexican Restaurant off of Lancaster and State St . They have superior service, and Mexican food that offers more in selection and quality then any other Mexican food place I have ever been to in Oregon .
Now THEY have the best Mexican food!

pete said...

i agree that they need some nice mexican music in the background. but marco the owner has his own entertainment every month! you should really come check it out, Her name is Maggie Felber, and she is a local vocalist in salem:)
I see her as the next patsy cline! and she is really good! I would'nt be surprize if we hear her on the radio one day!

her up coming performance is this friday, 30th at 7pm-9pm at La perla!

u really got to go see her, even mayor janet taylor loves her!

thanks
-Pete

Anonymous said...

The tacos are superior. Very authentic (I have spent a lot of time in Guadalajara - where these guys come from).

The only complaint I have is that the tacos al pastor, which is my favorite, is on the greasy side.

I didn't know you could order for delivery as noted above. Great idea.

Good authentic Mexican food.

Anonymous said...

i think that the perla has the best tacos in the world along with their horchata its the best. better than Chula Vista Mexican restaurant

Anonymous said...

i think adriana and julia are good waitress and marco is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Why no liquor license? Spicy tacos need cold beer!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I agree that the tacos are amazing, but so is the atmosphere! It's so unique, and I have never once noticed the smell from SLAB. As to service speed, it depends. If you happen to go there at an exceptionally busy time, then yes, it will take a bit. But if you go when it's a little quieter, you can get your food pretty fast. La Perla is wonderful in all ways, don't listen to these crazy people. It's so good it became my favorite mexican restaurant really quickly, beating out the place I had called my favorite for years.

Anonymous said...

I work downtown and have eaten here often.

The food is pretty good. The priceses are right and the people are friendly. Yes some of the wait staff cant take an order if you don't speak spanish. This is not so great but you can point to what you want and work it out with verry little fuss.

This places downfall is the time it takes to get your order. It really does take a while. Sure "if you go there when its quiet, you get your food pretty fast" but The DMV is fast if you are there alone. I do not want to work MY dinner around when its best for the restaurant!

So the food is good, the prices are good and the people are friendly. Just don't go there if you only have say, an hour before your movie starts. Every dinner I have ordered has consistently taken 35 to 40 minutes just to get to the table. And that is after waiting 10 or 15 minutes for someone to come take the order in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I love the tacos! Best in town. I use to go alot with my high school friends. Always one of our number one choice!! Im heading there today.

Anonymous said...

The food was reasonably priced but you exchange that for smaller portions. Our waitress seemed very disgruntled that we still needed time to order.(After only being there approx. 3 minutes.) She came twice in less than 6 minutes and seemed downright ANNOYED that I wasn't ready. I had never ordered there before and was asking my friend what was good....The THIRD try, she sent someone else! Ha!! Well, that was fine because the SECOND waitress was VERY personable and friendly. We were also waited on by the bartender who was also VERY friendly and courteous. Music would have been nice. It felt like the place was closed because it was a slow night. Soft background music would have helped the atmosphere a lot. I think there are other places in town with better food and atmosphere. La-Guadalajara, Los-Arcos and El Mirador and the place right in front of Lancaster mall who's name escapes me...But if you're on a budget and want something light and fresh tasting. This is just fine.

Anonymous said...

GREAT cheap authentic Mexican food. Best Tacos for only 99cents. The fish tacos are AWESOME! The service has improved greatly with the new owners, i was VERY pleased and will definately return!

Anonymous said...

Sad to see such a wonderful location have such bad service. Really wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt but can't.

Anonymous said...

they have just been there a year now... 2007 was the other owners.. new owners now with better food and people...

Anonymous said...

I'd go here a LOT more if they had really cold Coronas or Modelos. I just can't eat tacos without a beer.

The food is pretty good. Cheap, so you can't expect high end fare. I just don't want to have to pull chucks of fat out of my tacos al pastor before I eat it.

Do the new owners make their own tortilla's? I know Marco didn't. That'd be a big improvement. Heck, I'd pay $2 per taco if the meat what high quality and they had fresh corn tortillas.