Tag Archives: Charlestown

SGT. BERTRAM MEMORIAL 5K-9 RUN/WALK

April 20 • Charlestown 

Staff Photos 

The inaugural Sgt. Bertram Memorial 5K-9 run/walk served as an official fund raiser benefiting the Bertram Family Memorial Trip to National Police Week, which took place in Washington, D.C., in May.. 

“All Aboard” The La Pasadita Train

toddextoleatsCharlestown gem serves up authentic Mexican eats

By D. Todd Applegate

Photos by Christian Watson

As a self-professed foodie and wannabe chef ’n‘ restaurateur – and one of the Extol Team’s newest members – I am thrilled the role of food writer has been put on my plate. I am ready to dig in. At the risk of losing an audience I don’t yet have, I apologize in advance for the food puns, but hopefully you can develop a stomach for them. I look forward to extolling the virtues of the fare I find in our Southern Indiana community and will relish sharing it with you. So, please enjoy and just try and digest what I’m serving up in these pages. And if you have a place you think I should try, just send an email to extol@extolmag.com and put “Extol Eats” in the subject line. –D. Todd Applegate

I wish I had a peso for every time I’ve thought to myself, “I sure would like to find a restaurant that serves good authentic Mexican food.” If you’ve found yourself thinking the same thing, give La Pasadita a try.  Just off Highway 62 in Charlestown, the eatery is easy to get to, hard to get in (more on that in a moment) and easy to enjoy…at least once you find the entrance.

Housed in a red railroad car nestled between the “powder keg” tower and the suspended vintage Chevy on the flagpole, La Pasadita is kind of hard to miss. But getting inside the restaurant itself poses a bit of a challenge. There are three possible entrances, each with its own parking area. The key is to locate and stay to the right of the nondescript La Pasadita sign and park near there. With that accomplished and the red railroad car now in front of you, take one of the two entrances, choosing either ramp or steps, to one of two doors, each leading into the restaurant.

toddextoleats-2After what sounds like a bit of a treasure hunt to this point, you will now have even more of an appetite and as your reward, be ready to enjoy some good authentic Mexican food and in an old railroad dining car to boot. Just be sure you ask to be seated in the dining car, as the restaurant is part train car and part Mexican market and café.

With a name like La Pasadita, you might expect good Mexican food. After Isabel, my kind hostess-waitress-server-cashier, seated me, she asked, “Have you ever had authentic Mexican food before?”

Slightly taken aback I inquired: “What do you consider to be authentic Mexican food?”

Isabel replied, “The main difference between Tex-Mex, which is what most people consider Mexican food to be, is that ‘authentic’ means using traditional family recipes from the various regions of Mexico in your particular restaurant.”

As for the restaurant’s name, “There isn’t an easy translation,” Isabel admitted. The closest translation I could find for pasadita comes from the word pasar, which means “to pass” or “passage.”

While that was close, Isabel added that the word “probably translates to ‘passing by’ or ‘passing on’ when used colloquially.” That was good enough for me as I thought if I was hungry and “passing by” a place, I’d like to try some traditional Mexican recipes that had been “passed on.”

toddextoleats-11With the treasure hunt and Spanish lesson behind me, I was now seated in the stainless-steel tube of an old dining car, which was behind the big red engine of the now defunct Clark Nichols Railroad, and ready to order lunch.

The menu items were primarily in Spanish but with informative descriptions in English of what you were ordering.  In addition to many recognizable offerings, the menu also included chicharrones (pork rings), flautas (deep fried chicken tacos), huaraches (shaped masa cakes), and the atypical Tacos De Tripitas, Chorizo, and Lingua (tripe, chorizo and tongue tacos). There were plenty of huevos (egg) offerings and tortas (Mexican sandwiches) as well.

Incidentally, there is one menu for both lunch and dinner, and specials for each. On the day of my visit, the lunch special ($5) included two tacos (either Mexican style or deluxe with choice of meat ) with rice and beans.

That was my starter, along with a lime Jarritos ($1.50) to drink. There are a variety of Mexican beverages both on the menu and in the cooler to purchase in the market. You can even get a Mexican Coca Cola should you choose. There are three Mexican beers ($3/each) and three domestics in bottles ($3) on the menu. And bottled water, too ($1.)

Soon, out came the salsa and chips and the Jarritos, followed by my tacos. A Mexican Taco here is a small, flat, corn tortilla with choice of meat, chopped onions and fresh cilantro. A Deluxe Taco includes the above plus lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream. I had ordered a deluxe with chicken and a Mexican with beef. Both were extremely tasty. The meat was tender, marinated and spiced – but not spicy. I drizzled salsa on both, which was interesting as the sauce was thinner versus chunky, but full of flavor, with onion, cilantro and a notable citrus kick. The chips were crunchy with the right amount of salt. You can get a hotter version of the salsa upon request. It is thicker and amped up with habanero, but not too amped up.

I asked Isabel what was La Pasadita’s signature dish.  She seemed to lean toward the beef choices and cited Carne Asada (grilled skirt steak; $8.99) as her choice. I have had Carne Asada elsewhere, so I opted for something different and selected the Guisado De Puerco (pork stew in green sauce) while Extol photographer Christian Watson – who’d just arrived – ordered the Quesadilla Con Carne (translation: beef quesadilla; $8.99) and a mango Jarritos. Both of our meals came with refried pinto beans and rice, tortillas and a small salad comprised of lettuce, tomato and avocado.

The tortillas, which have great flavor and are specially made for the restaurant, are soft corn tortillas served hot off the grill. You’ll notice big corn flavor in this simple little gem. However, be prepared for the texture change of this corn tortilla versus the flour tortilla that most of us are used to, thanks to the Tex-Mex options in this area.

My Guisado De Puerco was served with chunks of tender marinated pork in a delicious green sauce that was more like gravy. An ample portion for sure, as are most things here, but I still wanted more. Like the tortillas, the refried pintos and the rice were really flavorful sides. And did I detect a hint of adobo or secret spice in the recipe?

It was consistently busy at lunch on this day, and Isabel was in constant motion and multitasking. But she seemed to manage and no one seemed bothered. I just would not have wanted or needed to be in a hurry that day.

I didn’t see desserts on the menu but did notice a small case with fresh pastries (Tortas y Dulces) in the market. Just before paying my bill, I ordered a side of guacamole ($1.50) to go. At restaurants, I sometimes look at a single item that can represent the overall quality of the food across similar restaurants, almost like a standard. Guacamole or a cheese enchilada with red sauce are normally my Mexican go-to barometers. Later that night, I tried the guacamole and as expected, it did not disappoint. Simple but good, it was fresh and creamy with chunks of avocado throughout and a noticeable citrus kick, like the salsa. My wife sampled it as well and voiced her approval.

Even though a unique part of La Pasadita and the floor plan, the Mexican market is small and somewhat out of place. But as I walked around and explored, I realized there was everything one would expect in keeping with the overall authenticity of La Pasadita.  The market offered all things Goya and La Preferida brands. There were spices, canned goods, sauces, snacks, cookies and candy to choose from as well as drinks and an assortment of Mexican cheeses and chorizo in the cooler.

toddextoleats-7I plan to make a return trip soon and advise you to climb aboard the train at La Pasadita, too.

Until next time.

Tastefully, Todd


Las Pasadita

1041 IN-62

Charlestown

812.256.7918

Open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday

Carryout available

Family friendly; handicap accessible

Alcohol served

 

Charlestown

Story and photos by JD Dotson

Once again, I am completely in awe of a place I thought I knew, only to be pleasantly surprised at every turn.  Charlestown quietly sits in Eastern Clark County and not knowing where I was going, I stopped in the first interesting place I came upon to ask questions and poke around. (By the way: Don’t forget to check out Charlestown during the Christmas season, beginning with Light Up Charlestown on the Friday after Thanksgiving.)

rocks bird

The CHARLESTOWN FEED STORE 

11106 Dean St. | On Highway 62 Near Highway 3 | 812.256.2048 | charlestownfeedstore.com

Sitting outside the Charlestown Feed Store was an old giant wagon, shining with color, with row upon row of raw West Virginia glass. I took it as a sign to see what other things – beside feed – I could find at the feed store. I met a beautiful parrot named Goldie, saw the largest collection of vintage coolers and got some good information and stories from Luke, who works at the store. I heard the legend of the haunted Seven Penny Bridge, (or Ten Penny Bridge, if you search online) and got directions to the Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve. Still, I was sure I had more pennies in the floorboard of my car, and I headed out to explore Charlestown.

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CHARLESTOWN STATE PARK 

12500 Indiana 62 | 812.256.5600 | www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2986.htm | $7 entry fee

Charlestown State Park sits just off Hwy 62 on 5,100 acres of land formerly belonging to the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, and on the banks of the Ohio River. The park boasts several marked trails rated moderate to rugged and ruins of ammunition plants in the hills.  I began my adventure at the Riverside Overlook and trail No. 6 which immediately had me running up a steep, rocky ascent. Once I cleared the climb, my run had me along the ridge of the woods with a steep drop-off and the most spectacular view in the park of the river. It was at once both terrifying and beautiful, quiet on the path and breathtaking. I kept the course which wound me back down to creek beds and back up. I was easily distracted by bits of a ruin which took me off trail and off course, just a bit lost but reveling in the adventure of trying to reconnect with my path. Eventually, I found my way back to my car and to my map to Rose Island. I have heard of Rose Island since my childhood. My Granny lived down the road, worked in the ammunition plant and told of picnics at the popular amusement park. In the 1920s, the park, only accessible by steamboat, ferry or a suspension bridge, boasted a small zoo, a pool, shooting gallery, dance hall, cafeteria, ferris wheel and roller coaster and hotel. The Depression closed the park temporarily and the flood of 1937 destroyed the park entirely. These days a short hike down the steep, paved hill and crossing over the Porterville Bridge will drop you at the entrance of Rose Island. There are a lot of really remarkable ruins and historic markers guiding you along the paths with photographs of what once belonged here. A bit of imagination helped to fill in the river banks with thousands of people bustling around the peninsula on a beautiful day. I explored Rose Island quite a bit, knowing I was stalling the run back to my car. At the end of this trip, I will have run 10 miles and the last leg was up another steep incline. As a reward, I asked some fellow explorers a bit of advice on what food I should stuff in my face.

otharocks distantclearing

NINE PENNY BRANCH STATE NATURE PRESERVE 

3143, 3019 Tunnel Mill Rd

The back roads of Charlestown are peaceful, curvy and perfect for a gorgeous Saturday drive. I wound my way down Tunnel Mill Road and took in the sights, the hills and woods, farms and fields. The Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve sits just off the road with a small parking lot and a path leading you away. A quarter of a mile in and you are really alone and seemingly far from civilization. The path curves and slopes down, winding back and forth between trees and vines. I came to a rough-hewn rock bench high above a creek below and spared a few minutes to sit and enjoy the solitude. Eventually, I made my way down the path across a bridge and eventually into the creek bed. It was an easy mile in and a rough run back uphill to get out.

pizza

THE CHARLESTOWN PIZZA COMPANY

850 Main St. 812.256.2699 | www.ctownpizzaco.com

I met a trio in the ruins and immediately the Charlestown Pizza Company sprang out as the best pizza in the area. As if I need any more of an excuse to visit a good pizza place, the next bit of advice had me hooked instantly.: “You have to get the Mashed Potato Pie,” said Morgan Cooke, and I thanked her for ruining my diet because I was certain that is exactly what I was going to get. I ran extra hard off the paved path through the woods, pushing myself thinking about all those calories I was about to ingest. The restaurant sits off the square in the heart of Charlestown. The menu description is as follows: “The Mashed Potato Pie: sauced with garlic butter, then a hearty layer of mashed potato, bacon and cheddar cheese and finished with diced green onions. Served with your choice of one sauce on the side.” It is a perfect amalgamation of pizza and baked potatoes, and fell right out of comfort food heaven and into my belly.