As a Texan living in Boston, the choices are weak at best. Most of the Mexican restaurants serve more traditional Mexican fare as opposed to Tex-Mex. I assume you're looking for Tex-Mex. The Border Cafe (either location) has a few good things but not very consistent. They don't even serve refried beans! The nerve! The closest I've found to South Texas style is probably Anna'a Taqueria in Brookline. It's simular to the taquerias you find in Larado and places like that. Not fancy but really good. The Austin Grill has a few good things including Migas (a very Austin type thing). Do NOT order the Chicken Fried Steak. It's awful. Most of the places are so-so and you have to keep looking for what you like. Good luck.
Rio Grande in Marblehead has a bit of a following, and we always come out of there thinking the food is even better than the last time (the mere gringocity of the neighborhood/decor/waitresses made me very skeptical the first time). But I don't know what true Chowhounds think of it. Anyone?
Probably not too "authentic" (more like a Friday's wannabe), but the food is great. And Sunday nights they have all-u-can-eat on fajitas, too. Not a buffet, but actually the real dishes...served with "bottomless" refills. Although, do all-u-can-eat fajitas a couple of times -- even GREAT ones -- and you'll swear off Mexican food for a LONG time....
re: Jim Wong
re: C. Fox
Just to give my qualifications, I am a Texan born and bred, now living in Boston for the past 8 years. My suggestions
1. Baja Betty's in brookline village is very vegetarian friendly. I don't know for sure whether they use lard, but you could call and ask and I would bet they don't use it. Good luck with that.
2. Lots of good Mexican in Jamaica Plain: Tacos el Charro (highly touted, I thought it was ok) and Acapulco (a family favorite) both are quite authentic old Mexican favorites. I wouldn't call them Texmex or Calmex. More like the Mexican food I ate in Texas as a child, simple and comforting. Mariachis at both joints on weekend nights.
3. Forest Cafe is not great at all.
boy it's been a while since i've been at chowhound!
i'm originally a californian, and my quest for good mexican (albeit cal-mex rather than tex-mex) has led me to one great find, taqueria mexico, in waltham, close to waltham, on the street kind of behind main st. tasty stuff, and mariachi hat decorations to boot.
I'm not a chef but from my perspective (having lived in Texas and California) is seems that Cal-Tex is a little more bland and less "hot" with more of an emphasis on sauces. Tex-Mex is big on heat and cheese and basic ingredients. Lot's of beef, pork and chicken. Cal-Mex is a bit more traditionally Mexican and has a wider range of ingredients and more fish dishes.
I don't know whether you'd consider it Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex, but Sol Azteca on Beacon Street near the St. Mary's T stop is very good. A mark of their authenticity is that they have dishes with mole sauce, something I had in Mexico all the time but have only rarely encountered in the U.S.
For fun-house tortilla-chips-and-margaritas tex mex food, Fajitas 'N Ritas on Route 9 by Brookline Village isn't bad, but is nothing special.
re: Justin Kerber
I, too, yearn for really great cal/tex/mexican good. One place that I have been liking a lot lately is Cafe Ole in Cambridge (Inman Square). Great salsas, enchiladas, moles, etc. Large selection of mexican beers.
You can find reviews at boston.com and citysearch. Go quicly, though, it is starting to be "discovered." It got a best-of-boston in improper bostonian this summer.
> From: Joeseph Schmodin
> Newsgroups: ne.food
> Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 01:49:47 GMT
> Subject: Tu Y Yo (Extremely Good Mexican, 2 weeks old!)
> Well folks, I think we got something special here.
> I was headed over to East Asia in Powderhouse Sq. when I walked past the 2
> week old Tu Y Yo (here on in referred to as TYY in my review.) I almost
> walked past, but something told me "Eat here". Tu Y Yo means You and Me in
> Spanish, as some of you figured out, a great name. Doncha wanna take a date
> there already?
> What a surprise. Unpretentious yet highly ambitious, the only restaurant
> that might favorably compare is Ole, and the two are quite different
> cuisines, Ole being more "traditional", least in this country. Chicken mole,
> etc. I'm much more excited about TYY than when Ole opened it's second branch
> in Inman about 1 1/2 ago. Forest Cafe? Ha, ha, ha, forget it.
> It's a couple doors down from the respected East Asia like I said.
> This is a Mexican-owned Mexican restaurant. TYY is gunning for mid-high
> priced Mexican, while still hanging on to the take-out crowd at Tufts. Quite
> a tough tightrope to walk, if you ask me. Note that they are only open for
> dinner only!
> There is no chips and salsa. There is not a single tortilla chip to be
> found. No burritos, fajitas or margaritas, no liquor license either. Beans?
> Only in one appetizer, seems like a concession to a item that absolutely
> needed it. Just no concessions period to "stand-bys", a rarity in "ethnic"
> restauranting. The decor is tasteful, yet cheery. Save the linoleum floor, a
> bit cold, but a nice light blue color that generally matches. I would say a
> subdued festive, it works, 'specially for us Cambridge types who reject
> places like Borders out of hand as a tourist trap. The menu is very
> selective and spare. There are 5 appetizers and 11 entrees. That's it!
> The server informed me that the cuisine is real Mexican (sure you've heard
> that before) mostly from Mexico City and a little south of the city. And
> some other region that escapes me. It washes, seeing it was a bit more
> refined and cosmopolitan. Doesn't take itself too seriously, however, the
> entrees, or rather "Especialidades" are sub-titled "Autentic [sp] Mom's
> On to the food.
> At first, I was going to have Calabazas Albajo, breaded zucchini with
> veggies, comes with rice and salad for $7.95. But I was so impressed with
> the spare, obviously selective menu, so had to go for the most expensive
> item, the Pescado Tlaloc for $13.95. It's "fried fish in Tlaloc style".
> Tonight it was haddock. Chose it over the other fish dish, which is Pulpo
> Pichirilo, "octopus in a vinagreta sauce with vegatables." I will try that
> When have you had fish, other than fish tacos, at a Mexican place? I've
> always wanted to try, since you'd think Mexicans have access to good
> seafood. Actually, Forest does have fish, but it sucks.
> Going a bit overboard, I allowed the server talk me into a moderately priced
> ($3) mushroom Quesadilla, expecting nothing special. (Good thing I did, the
> portions are correctly sized to enjoy 1 app. and 1 entree. Plus he gave me a
> free drink. Nice guy.)
> My Quesa came first, and I had already forgotten what it was I ordered.
> Didn't look like any Quesadilla, of course. I just knew it looked good. The
> quesa was a sealed, puffy half-circle, like a mini-calzone, that was
> deep-fried. It was placed on a nice ceramic plate, split in half. The other
> server asked whether I wanted red or green sauce, and he obliged me with
> both when I couldn't immediately make up my mind. (I was the only diner, it
> was quite early, around 5.)
> The first server (perhaps the owner or one of them) came back and encouraged
> me to eat with my hands and spoon the sauce on the plate. (sort of salsas,
> but not really) Dip in and enjoy. A bit of a surprise, seeing how nice a
> place it was, 'course I went for it. It was very good. The outside was
> krispy kreme good, the filling nice and hot, flavors were very subtle for
> Mexican. (Didn't lose warmth from being a relative flat object like most
> quesas.) A minor complaint is that the diced carrots were a bit hard. They
> also serve quesas with Tuna, Cheese, or Shrimp. They seem a bit small for 3
> bucks, but it's really good. 8 out of 10.
> The fish dish was wonderful. Again, a bit small for what you'd expect, but
> you gotta lose your concept of Mexican being bargain food, with lots of it.
> The presentation was very good. A finely pan-fried piece of haddock,
> overlayed with the Tlaloc sauce, which turned out to be a mild Red Bell
> Pepper/piquant Red Pepper and Onion kind of sauce. It worked well with the
> fish I believe. The little mound of reddish colored Mexican rice was on the
> side, topped with some garnish. The salad completed the dish, nothing
> special, just lettuce and half slices of decent tomatoes. The dressing came
> in a regular "fish n' chips" vinegar dispenser, a dark vinaigrette with
> herbs in it. It wasn't very vinegary at all, which was fine, since it let
> the fish stand out. The fish had a great balance of firmness and moistness
> to it. The pieces separated easily, occasionally held together by the
> browned fried sections on top and bottom. Again, subtle and more complex
> than typical Mexican. Blindfolded, I might of guessed vaguely North African.
> 8 out of 10.
> As a bonus, the server gave me a sample of on of the "Fruit Waters" that
> seems to be a specialty. It's very much like juice, but distinct. They had
> Orange and Cucumber! today. The Cucumber Fruit Water was great, cleared the
> palate, was sensibly lightly sweetened and diluted with some water. Pretty
> much like the name says. 9 out of 10.
> You can get away fairly cheap, (11 bucks with tx/tp) or you can pay little
> over 20 bucks like I did. Actually, you'd probably pay more at Forest, and
> like I say, it's no comparison. (For a neighborhood bar with food of
> interest, try the Plough.) You'll probably want to spend more, since
> portions are modest, actually a more appropriate amount of food. They do
> have some combos for $7.95, mostly a selection of appetizers and fruit
> water. I would skip them and get an appetizer and a entree.
> I was asked to fill out a feedback card and when I asked for a business
> card, it had one of the chef's name on it. Yet another sign of pride in
> Very good, a must try. With a bit more decorum, (Curtains, Candles, Rugs,
> Wine, etc.) it could be a super romantic place for dinner in nerdy
> Powderhouse Sq. Extremely good for 2 weeks old already. Once they convince
> people that this is an experience to compare to maybe mid-priced Spanish
> restaurants, not burrito joints, there will be no stopping this place,
> hopefully. I didn't even describe the rest of the very interesting menu, but
> I leave that to the rest of you fellow foodies.
> That's the review and all the food that's fit to eat!
> -Joe Schmoe
> Tu Y Yo
> 858 Broadway
> open 4-10PM 7 days
> Take Out available
> Bar Stool Service available for lonely epicurians
> no liquor license
re: Joeseph Schmodin
Anna's Tacqueria is really a good pick. A few locations exist -- Beacon St., Harvard Ave. in Brookline/Allston, Porter Square. I've only been to the Harvard Ave. location. I think that it's a notch above Boca Grande (and Boca's a helluva good tacqueria -- as is Baja Betty's). Same basic set-up: cafeteria-style food line, tables with high turn-over. For a really worthwhile cholesterol bomb, try a carnitas quesadilla with refried beans, jalapenos, pico de gallo, and a little bit of guac.
re: C. Fox
Haven't been there in a long while, but it still exists. Last I heard, they were having labor and PR issues -- the rumor was that some Jamaican guys who worked in the kitchen wanted to work as waitstaff, and the restaurant allegedly didn't allow it -- the Harvard kids got upset, etc. That was about a year ago.