La Taza spices up your typical breakfast

Latin-American inspired restaurant and coffee house serves up unique drinks, breakfast food

La Taza Photo right way
I selected the breakfast tacos, which consisted of two tortillas, your choice of corn or flour, filled with scrambled eggs, melted pepper jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and your choice of a protein. Hildy Maxwell | Cavalier Daily

A sunny, Friday-morning breakfast jaunt last weekend brought me quite a ways off Grounds to try the highly recommended, Latin-American inspired coffeehouse and restaurant, La Taza. Like many other restaurants in the Belmont area, La Taza takes the expected and makes it unexpected. The restaurant can be found in the heart of historic Charlottesville, Belmont, where it pumps out coffee and Latin-American inspired cuisine. I was instructed to head there after complaining of having become bored with mainstream American brunch options. 

The colors of the sign and patio umbrellas outside the restaurant brighten the otherwise normal downtown street. As I drove up, I was instantly enamored with the charm of the corner restaurant. On opening the red front door, the scent of freshly brewed coffee ushered me into the quaint little establishment. The restaurant was fairly busy that morning, with most tables occupied. The front of the room was occupied by an espresso bar and rustic tables and chairs that were situated around the rest of the room. 

I picked a high top table beside a window so I could enjoy the warm morning sunlight. First up, I ordered coffee. Although the restaurant advertised bottomless drip coffee with all their meals, I decided to try one of the specialty lattes. I picked the Dolce and Gabbana Latte, which consisted of a mixture of white chocolate and cinnamon flavors with steamed milk and espresso. The drink arrived piping hot with a thick layer of foam on top. I found the coffee to be remarkably smooth with the cinnamon and white chocolate flavors creating a unique flavor that I had not yet encountered, despite being a coffee connoisseur. It was a perfect sweet drink to counter the spicy food that I ordered next. 

La Taza means ‘the cup’ in Spanish so I expected the incredible coffee selection, but was unprepared to discover the glorious concoctions of spicy breakfast food making up their all-day brunch menu. To eat, I selected the breakfast tacos. The dish consisted of two tortillas, your choice of corn or flour, filled with scrambled eggs, melted pepper jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and your choice of a protein — options included ham, bacon, sausage or soy sausage and chorizo. Fresh made salsa came with it, which I later added in heaping spoonfuls to the otherwise mild tacos. Crispy fried potato cubes rounded out the meal for just $10.

I only had to wait a few minutes for my food to arrive since the service was very quick and the servers were attentive. While I waited, however, I sipped my latte and took in the Latin-American inspired decor. This included calavera —  beautifully painted porcelain skulls usually used in Day of the Dead celebrations — which lined window sills around the restaurant. Brightly patterned pillows sat in several chairs, giving the room a more cozy feel. Customers stopping in for their morning pick-me-up made a line at the counter, ordering cups upon cups of delicious coffee. 

My heaping plate of tacos arrived a few minutes later. They were filled to the brim with fresh ingredients, making them slightly messy to eat. The house-made guacamole was a surprisingly good compliment to the cheesy eggs. The potatoes were a more basic side dish that offset the exotic flavors of the tacos. Since they were such generous portions and accompanied by the potatoes, I was not able to finish both tacos. The sizable portions could easily be shared with a friend. If arriving to La Taza without a huge appetite, an alternative to the breakfast tacos would be their Breakfast in a Cup, which has similar ingredients to the taco filling but is served in a mug over grits, potatoes or black beans. Having never tried tacos for breakfast, I found them to be a delightful twist on typical brunch food. 

My only complaint about La Taza is they will only evenly split checks between the people in your party, rather than based on individual orders. They only let my party know about this policy when we asked at the register. If dining with friends, be prepared to Venmo one another or pay with cash. Although this made paying a slight inconvenience, sharing the delicious food and coffee with friends was worth it. 

Before leaving, I stopped by the espresso bar for a to-go cup of coffee, an added perk to their bottomless coffee policy.  They had different types of drip coffee with cream, sugar and flavorings to doctor up your cup of coffee however you take it. The extra to-go cup of joe made leaving this happy little restaurant much easier, but I cannot wait to return on a warmer day and enjoy the patio. 

La Taza is located at 407 Monticello Road in Charlottesville. They are open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Hailey Eaves is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com. 

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