Random bites: La Comarca 

The giant banner in front of this unassuming little Ogeechee Road restaurant sums it up: No Tex–Mex. It seems that Savannah’s growing Latino population has tired of the ubiquitous dried out rice and lava–hot pools of runny refried beans – and at least one place is fighting back.

When my intrepid field researcher told me about La Comarca, I went slack jawed and stared in disbelief. Barely 24 hours later, we were loaded in the foodiemobile and winding out way south on Ogeechee Road for my first encounter. Sure enough, no Tex–Mex. What I did find was a wonderfully salty pork skin stew and slow cooked beef with strips of tender and spicy poblano peppers.

And not a freakin’ burrito in sight!

This is solid, heat–warming, back country cooking that clearly comes from heart. There is no pretense, no ceremony – just hearty, filling food – like empanadas stuffed with house made Chorizo sausage. Piping hot, home made corn tortillas are standing by to  help push food from plate to fork. Baked or stewed chicken dishes looked awesome, but I was as stuffed as a bulging empanada. A ceviche of onions, lemon juice and cilantro was filled with plump mussels and bits of tender squid.

Diners are left to their own level of seasoning – and a nice variety of hot sauces allows you to dial in your heat. There is no bar service, but an interesting selection of south–of–the–border soft drinks and fruit juices. And don’t leave without poking around the adjoining market. There you’ll find a small meat counter with house made Chorizo, a cool selection of smoked hot peppers and a varied selection of other dry goods and groceries for Mexican cooking, cowboy boots and the largest selection of Spanish language CDs and DVDs I’ve seen in the area. Buffet hours are 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

4811 Ogeechee Road/ 401–0039 

Georgia’s best barbecue?

During my weekend in Decatur I had some great eats, including a wonderful meal at tapas restaurant The Iberian Pig.
But a TV show caught my attention. Host Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” was cleaning barbecue pits at Gray, Georgia’s Old Clinton BBQ. The roadside family restaurant’s sign proclaimed “Best in Georgia.”

I took that as a challenge.

On the drive home Sunday, I exited at Forsyth and headed west some 30 miles where I didn’t have much trouble finding Clinton’s. The sign maker must not leave town much. The pulled pork was a combination of ground, pasty pieces and meager strips of pulled pork. The fairly spartan little sandwich was barely filling; a side of baked beans was run of the mill.

The warm and welcoming stares –– not –– from locals added to a decidedly inhospitable experience. I suggest a sign change: “Clean Pit, Mediocre BBQ.”


La Comarca, on Ogeechee Road

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