La Chula Mexican Restaurant
829 Hwy 90
Bay St. Louis
- story and photos by Lisa Monti
For many a fan of Mexican food and drink, La Chula Mexican Restaurant at 829 U.S. 90 in Bay St. Louis is their go-to spot. Kids love it for the chips and cheese dip; grownups rave about the margaritas and their favorite lunch and dinner offerings. And everybody likes the reasonable prices and good service.
At lunch recently, three of us sat at a table covered with sides and entrees and tried to calculate how many variations of dishes the kitchen staff can turn out. Let me count the ways: the menu lists 17 a la carta items, nine chicken dishes, four vegetarian dishes, 12 La Chula combos, a whopping 41 Mexican dishes and 30 selections for lunch. That’s not counting soups, extras, desserts, salads, specials, appetizers, dips and nachos.
Unless you already have settled on your favorite dish before you walk in the door, the menu might be a bit overwhelming. Of course there’s always crispy chips and fresh salsa to get things started while you’re narrowing down your choices. It took our waiter three trips to the table before we settled on our lunches and sides.
The Pollo Feliz may have been the star of the meal, or maybe it was just a case of I-should-have-ordered-that entree envy. The dish is a grilled chicken breast topped with the popular cheese dip, crowned with a pineapple slice, all over a bed of grilled onions.
The generous beef chimichanga came with a rich guacamole salad and choice of rice or beans.
For some crunch, we ordered up a chicken flauta alongside a soft fajita taco with steak and chicken from the a la carta menu. Plenty to share and more than enough for a tasty, satisfying lunch.
La Chula is a fun place to celebrate anything, from Mardi Gras to birthdays to National Margarita Day in February, but probably none is more popular than Cinco De Mayo. “We’re trying to figure out what we can do this year,” Iniguez said. Last year, the dining room was packed, the tables set up outside were filled and, he said, “There was a big waiting line for the tables.”
Iniguez opened La Chula seven years ago and knew pretty quickly his restaurant was a hit.
“After the second year, we had to enlarge the building,” he said. “It was way too small.”
Now he can feed almost 180 people at a time and thinks more space may be added in the future.
“We serve good food and we’re focused on giving our customers good service so they will come back,” he said.