Desperately seeking good Mexican food in New Haven area
- Rudy Vener
I've recently moved away from my two favorite Mexican restaurants in
New Jersey and am missing them greatly.
If you know of a good authentic Mexican place in New Haven, Hamden or
anywhere nearby, I'd love to hear about it.
Most of the better known places like Su Casa and Cuckoo's Nest are more Tex-Mex then authentic Mexican. (Not that I'm against T-M, I even occasionally enjoy The Whole Enchilada, a "healthy" Mexican joint!)
For the real thing, try El Charro Alegre or Guadalupe La Poblanita. You can find reviews at the New Haven Advocate site:
(Yes, I know some readers of this forum don't like the Advocate, but it has better dining info than any other paper.)
re: Don Shirer
It may not be gourmet dining but the taco trucks down at Long Wharf are pretty good. Tacos beef/chicken $1.00. No Tex/Mex here most menus in Spanish, most customers Spanish. and no cheddar cheese to be seen. Beef taco just beef, onions,tons of cilantro(used like lettuce), seasonings, and this awsomw green sauce from a tupperware container. There are usually 3 trucks weekdays, 2 marked Ixtapa and 1 from someplace in West Haven. The West Haven one is usually the one I eat from. They all offer beef head and tongue tacos but I haven't gotten that adventursome yet.
I second Guadalupe La Poblanita at they're new location at the end of Chapel Street in Fairhaven. The food is great as usual, but in spiffy new surroundings. A large Mexican beer selection. Try the roast goat.
I'll second Baja's in Orange. My favorite Mexican restaurant around (I live in Hamden). Good fish tacos (which is No. 1 for me when it comes to Mexican restaurants). If you're looking for something closer, Ixtapa (on Whitney Ave. in Hamden) is pretty good, too. Not as good as Baja's, but decent.
Baja is terrible. My husband & I adore fish tacos and were so excited. Deeply disappointing. Deep fried fish? What is up with that? And what is a salsa bar??? Gringo fare in the suburbs. Try the Taqueria No. Dos down the road or Guadalupe in Fair Haven. No fish tacos, but at least the food tastes like it should.
I just had lunch at Baja's today. It is hard for me to put my finger on a rating for it or whether I will go back soon; probably not premeditatedly. I had many ups and downs while there. I'll try to flesh out this meal and you can decide for yourself.
First off, I was intending to go to Taquaria #2 but couldn't quite find it and I was running out of time. I had passed Baja so after a while I turned back. It is in a strip and looks a lot like a fast food joint, but it's not quite. You can certainly get food to go. The place has little atmosphere or charm. Kinda a stripped-down, no-frills eatery.
I think I was surprised at first when I went in and this very pretty but sour-pussed girl said, "whatta you want?" Stunned by her directness and NYC attitude that I said, "food." She said, "here or to go?" I said, "here." She said, "sit anywhere", so I sat. There was about five occupied tables (of mostly two people per), and she was dealing with it all and making drinks. Later, I think her boss came in. She still semed to be handling it all. That might explain her curt attitude and frequent frown. Service was passable but very minimal. At one point I was looking for the little condiment cups so I could try different salsas and she calls out loudly, "what do you want", like I shouldn't have left my desk in class. She gave me one cup when I said what I wanted. So I kept cleaning it out and reusing it. I didn't want to have to go sit in the corner...
I got a beer reasonably soon and then it took her a few minutes to get around to my order and then it was processed fairly quickly. While eating she came to the bar area, made drinks and splashed water on me. I'm not sure she noticed but she didn't act like it.
They give you a small plate and a basket of chips. The chips are the hearty (somewhat thick) type. They were OK. At first I didn't realize that you should take the plate and head to the "salsa bar". Once I figured that out I put two salsas on my plate but was not enthusiastic about how they were melding before I had a chance to try each individually. I did not care that much for the medium-mild cooked salsa; IMHO, not as good as Pace. The fresca pico de gallo was quite good. The red, chile sauce was medium heat and had a bitter taste. Couldn't get past the bitterness. The tomatillo (I'm assuming) was so hot I think it had a lot of serranos in it. It was not bad but probably over the top for most people. They also had lots of fresh lime wedges on the salsa bar. Nice!
The #6 I ordered is a carnitas plate consisting of two, large flour tortillas (too hot to handle), refried beans (with two american cheeses sprinkled on top), rice (fresh and done very well), carnitas (meaning something akin to roasted, pulled pork with a tomato seasoning) and (chuckle-snort) "guacomole". I can hardly control myself because we have just been talking about (on CH) the desecration of guacomole with mayonaise or sour cream! This was sour cream mutilation. I actually asked the waitress/cashier/bartender if it was guacomole and she resoundingly said, "yes!" Friends and comrades, we must rise up against this abomination before guacomole sinks to the lowly condition that home fries are just now resurecting themselves from! This was so sloppy-juicey with sour cream that it was seeping down into the lettuce pile it had been placed on. Just a vague resemblance to guacomole, but (thankfully) it was ok on the carnitas.
The carnitas meat was alternately slightly dry and stringy to juicy and tender. Mostly it was good though marginally seasoned enough. It was too much for me to eat. I had the second tortilla virtually filled with meat, for a snack later.
I will say that this is pretty passable food that I think falls in-between authentic Cal-Mex and New England Gringo Mex. I think I might give the edge to Mezcal (and I need to give them a fair shake), or possibly El Amigo Felix.
This plate cost me $10.50. With the Negra Modello my bill total was $15.50.
On the way out the waitress chirped, "have a nice day!" I have the George Carlin routine stuck in my head, where he says, "F you" in reply!
Not that Baja or the waitress/cashier/bartender was that bad. Just that I cannot forget Carlin and those priceless routines...
Guadalupe la Poblanita. It is authentic mexican and a great value; most of the other places are tex-mex