While Chapel Hill and Carrboro are considered two separate cities, they are usually so intertwined it’s hard to see much difference between the two! Which is not a bad thing because they usually share some cool and fun eateries in this academically inclined area. And right at the border between Chapel Hill and Carrboro sits a little plaza with a host of eateries including the new La Montaña (“mountain” in Spanish). Brought to you by Chef Yung Nay from Iza Whiskey Kitchen and Eats, La Montaña is a different riff on Asian cuisine that’s been fused with a Latino menu. And the little touches to this new eatery make it one to watch out for! Read on and learn more…
La Montaña, Carrboro – Location, Decor
First things first, if you’re headed over to La Montaña, be aware that’s it’s on a block that has little to no street parking. This section of E. Main Street is pretty busy and while there’s a shared plaza parking lot around the corner, I usually end up parking behind La Montaña in the Carrboro Municipal parking lot, accessible off of Boyd Street. I’m pretty sure either lot is fine but given that the Chapel Hill area has a reputation for towing, I’m always super careful. A short walk around the corner and you’ll find La Montaña’s small store front next to Tarheel Town Pharmacy.
Inside La Montaña, things start to get fun! The dining room is open, dark polished floors with a jungle-like theme. The walls are lined with bamboo poles and there are splashes of green throughout the space. The bar to the right features green lighting with green tile along its face. Overhead you’ll find woven light fixtures along with a bed of hanging flowers which remind me of wisteria. It’s a good-looking space and a lot of thought went into its interior design and decor for diners.
La Montaña, Carrboro – Menu, Food
Working through the menu at La Montaña is a bit of fun (sample menus at bottom of post). Think mash-ups and twist-type dishes, mostly Latin-American in form but with Asian flavors mixed into the concept. Their smaller plates (tapas) are in the lower teens while the main plates are about $20 to $30 and the cocktails about $15 plus. Start with their chicken empanadas which are served up sliced in half and sitting on edge! A layer of guacamole lies underneath and they are drizzled with green tomatillo sauce but served with a sweeter Thai chili sauce, hmmm… The empanadas are nicely stuffed with white chicken meat and it’s a very satisfying starter.
For larger dishes, I’ve tried out the Korean beef tacos which is a stewed beef with some soy-sesame marinade, very tasty. The tortillas are nicely grilled for some additional flavor and texture, a nice touch. This lunch offering comes with a side salad, pico de gallo and sauce so the taco plates here have a bit extra that make for a meal. And for brunch, I’ve tried the chilaquiles, crisp tortilla chips covered with cheese and tomatillo sauce, eggs and carne asada are showcased as the protein for this dish. While it doesn’t look that enticing, it was a tasty bite and nice version of this popular brunch offering.
La Montaña, Carrboro – Service, Conclusion
After a couple of visits I can definitely say that service is prompt and friendly, the staff is well-trained here and your order is taken promptly and checked in on frequently. Which is a nice touch given the casual cafe feel and prices at La Montaña. La Montaña offers lighter plates for lunch and then spins up a bigger, deeper menu for dinner. And I definitely need to get back for dinner and try some of the larger offerings!
Overall I’m pretty pleased with what they are trying to do at La Montaña. The decor, menu, and concept is quite different and they are taking some chances with this restaurant, menu, and concept. I’m going to watch and see how that menu evolves over time but La Montaña is off to a great start, drop by if you’re in the hood.