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Argentinian or decent Mexican?

Anyone know of any Argentine resteraunts around Boston? I haven't been able to find any, so even if it sucks, getting even decent empanadas or slow grilled meats may at least quench the apetite.

On top of that, is there any decent mexican in this town? With as cheap as food is in Boston, you'd think one could find good Mexican food at an appropriate price, even Boca Grande is more expensive than I want to spend on Mexican food, let alone the exceptionaly average quality they serve.

Though, if anyone knows of any place that makes a good taco, I may be willing to spend some money on that, I haven't been able to find a good taco since I left SoCal....

Thanks!

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  1. El Pelon on Peterborough St is both cheap and delicious. Their tacos are great, the best probably being the fish tacos. Great fried fish, limed onions, pickled cabbage and if you like it spicy they have 2 very tasty, and unique, hot sauces.

    1. Tango is an average Argentine grill in Arlington (my Argentine relatives won't go there if it was in Argentina).

      You can find empanadas at a variety of Latin American places. Try the ones at La Mamma's (they're Chillean); they make stuff to order if there isn't any in the display case, so ask what the fillings are for the ones on display and order something that's not available.

      Alterative: Brazilian fried snacks (salgadinhos) are good at Muqueca and Cafe Brazil. (They're labeled as tira gostos on the menu at Cafe Brazil.) Consider the conzinha de frango (minced chicken in a shell of mashed potato, deep fried) or kibbeh (a Brazilian variant of the Lebanese dish of the same name).

      Of course you can slow grilled meats at Brazilian churrascos -- Bahia Grill (East Somerville) and Oliveira's (East Boston) are decent economical choices where you pay by the weight.

      8 Replies
      1. re: limster

        I've had empanadas at a few places, but none all that good. I went to Cafe Brasil over this last weekend and was not wholy impressed. I actually think Greenfields (the all-you-can-stuff-down-your-pie-hole Brasilian) was better. The empanadas at Cafe Brasil were also lackluster, the fillings where either dry or tasted day-old.

        I'll have to check out Tango, sounds like its my only bet around here.

        1. re: Nechushtan

          Definitely try the hot made-to-order ones at La Mamma. If they attempt to sell you one from the display case/heat lamp, run away.

          1. re: Dax

            La Mamma is right near me, I'll have to swing by tonight and pick up a selection to try.

          2. re: Nechushtan

            Tango does everything on a charbroiler as far as I can tell, so I wouldn't call it slow roasted. They also are a bit pricey for what they are, although I think their seasoning is excellent and things like the skirt steak come out well, the ribs tough. Its the best we have and a decent experience.

            Probably your most consistent slow-roasted meat in town is going to be Pork shoulder, which is regularly offered on Brazilian buffets and other places like Izzy's (much different seasoning from Argentina, though) also do an excellent job.

            Green Field can be excellent and is the one churrascaria currently offering beef ribs in the boston area (oven roasted I believe), plus they offer Fraldinho (skirt steak)... so it is the closest you will get Argentine cuts in a Brazilian rest. I have, however, had a really awful meal there and they seem to really be skimping on the food so its not on the recommended list for now. For churrasco, I would go with limster that the simpler less expensive places are better. My picks would be Churrasco Grill or Gauchao in Somerville, or Picanhas or Sal e Brasa in Everett. (Bahia Grill I find really lackluster for churrasco, not so good salgadinhos, and good offerings on the buffet on days when there is plenty of turnover.)

            Brazilian empanadas are always baked, not fried and your best bet for these would probably be a Brazilian bakery. I would tend to avoid the shrimp ones. There are several places which fry "pastels" to order, including Pastelaria Broadway and Petiscos in Somerville. Also fried are rissoles, which are have a similar dough to a coixinha, but are rarely fried to order. Muqueca has some nice salgadinhos. I usually eat off the bar menu at Cafe Brasil, but do not think a whole lot about their salgadinhos. The snacks I like there are frango a passarinho, torresmo (bit hit or miss), sometimes the linguica. Their churrasco offering is pretty bad, but one thing special they offer is tutu mineiro, and the fango c/quaibo and feijoada are pretty good.

            1. re: itaunas

              great info, thanks!

              I enjoy the Brazilian in general, though I find the spices a little too strong and over power the meat, Argentinian spices I find are more complimentary.

              1. re: Nechushtan

                I was under the impression that at brazilian rodizos the meat is only seasoned with salt....are you referring to the empanadas?

                1. re: Nechushtan

                  There is quite a wide variety of seasonings for churrasco.

                  Picanha (a horseshoe-shaped cut with a rind of fat) is usually seasoned with only sal grosso which is sprinkled on and then theoretically knocked off before slicing.

                  A whole rack of beef ribs is often coated with an even larger coating of coarse salt, so that it forms a crust while roasting and can be peeled/scraped off when done. (A whole picanha done this way is also excellent)

                  There also are coarse salts which have other flavors, such as garlic and black pepper.

                  Alcatra (the cut just below picanha) is often either marinaded or sometimes studded with garlic.

                  The most common marinade is vinha d'alhos, which is closest to a portuguese marinade. This is often used with pork and chicken hearts. There is a variety of other marinades -- lime based, soy sauce, just oil & garlic, even mayonaise based (this is more common than you think and the pork loin at Churrascaria Rodeo in Woburn was done this way). Sazon is often used in sausage and most of the pre-seasoned meats at brazilian butchers use this.

                  So the basic seasoning is coarse salt and the two cuts most touted as the "real churrasco" are usually only seasoned with coarse salt, but at a rodezio you will often encounter other seasonings.

                  1. re: Nechushtan

                    Cool -- many thanks for the informative rundown.

            2. Ole in Inman is good mexican.

              1. Personally, there's no Mexican restaurant in Boston proper that does anything for me. My fav is Mexico (in Providence), and I think Mexico Lindo in Melrose is pretty good (it took a fellow Chowhound to convert me to the place). I went to school at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, so I share your good-Mexican withdrawal pains.

                1. I agree that many, if not most, Mexican restaurants in the Boston area are average at best. My favorites are El Sarape in Braintree, Mexico Lindo in Melrose, Taqueria La Mexicana in Somerville, and, yes, Mexico Garibaldi in Providence (thanks, BostonBob, for the tip on that place). I have been spoiled by all the incredible Mexican places in the San Diego area, though. Some of the dumpy little taco shacks by the side of the road in North County are miles above anything in this area, and the nicer Mexican restaurants in the San Diego area? There's just no comparison. I really wish Fidel's in Solana Beach would open a branch in Boston... :-)

                  As for Argentinian food, I do like Tango in Arlington. They have excellent steaks there, in my opinion. Not sure as to its authenticity, though.

                  1. I'm not a beach guy, but as long as there are tacos del mar, AND trees to keep the sun from hitting my pasty white skin, I might have to go there some day!

                    Are there any other Argentinian restaurants in the Boston area? I can't think of any beside Tango....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      Cinco de Mayo in Chelsea, for Mexican food. Went there about a year ago, not since, but they had a good and very authentic chicken mole. Bar area is alluring with X-mas lights but would recommend sitting in the more bland family area based on our single adventure there. Nice mostly Spanish-speaking folks running the place and in the place, except for a couple of not quite as nice Spanish speaking fellows in the bar area who were a bit too enamored of the waitress.
                      139 Winnisimmet Street
                      Chelsea, MA 02150

                    2. I use to go to Tacos El Charro in Jamaica Plain. A bonus is that they have mariachi music on the weekends. Not bad menudo and goat, brain and chorizo tacos. Ask for the pineapple tamales.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: chef poncho

                        Isn't Tacos El Charro closed, or about to close? I've been hearing rumors about this for a year now, but perhaps it is still open?

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          I had previously asked about this on the board and it was said that even though have been trying to sell it for a while, Tacos El Charro is still open. No mariachi, you need to go to Tijuana on Broadway in Chelsea instead.

                          I think its pretty hard to get an earnest read on Mexican on this board, unless you know the other posters that share your tastes. For some folks the gold standard is mole (frankly, most restaurants use a base for this), others carnitas, others cabeza, and yet others margaritas. This also makes it hard to recommend restaurants. I usually start making sure a place has good beans, corn tortillas, and rice... if its got that much (and maybe agua fresca de jamaica or at least pacifica) I can get by.

                          1. re: itaunas

                            agreed, Mole is good and all, but give me a quality taco or buritto and a good side of mexican rice and refried beans with plenty of fresh chips and I'm a happy man. Which is why I find Boston mexican so frustrating, hopefully one of the suggested places will quench my mexican food craving.

                            1. re: Nechushtan

                              If you can make it out to Waltham, Taqueria Mexico and Taqueria El Amigo might fit this criteria. You also have the option for gorditas there which are recommended. They tend to have heavier, chewier chips which I like, but a lot of folks consider them less "fresh." I cannot compare them to El Sarape yet, but maybe someone can talk about the beans there.

                              I used to frequent Taquerial Cancun in its old location (same owner as Mi Pueblito I believe), but the place in East Boston where I would probably orient you is El Rancho Grande but I can't comment on their beans.

                              Taqueria La Mexicana does me for a rice and beans fix in Somerville, plus they have good juices and appear to have fresh chips. Taco Loco (which is more salvadoran, but changed their sign to say "mexican grill") on Broadway is less expensive... Tacos Lupita has better fillings, but doesn't get me my soupy bean fix. There is one more taqueria on the lower part of Broadway (I thought Taqueria Tapatio closed which was also salvadoran)

                              1. re: Nechushtan

                                Update on lower-Broadway taquerias. Tapatio is still open, although their sign which also features "Mexican Grill" is obscured by a tree outside. Montecristo (which I haven't tried) is closer to Louie's and Taco Loco is closer to Sullivan Sq. I believe all are salvadoran, but not 100% certain about Montecristo -- their name would suggest El Salvador to me.

                                I was actually on a mission for feijoada (Branca's) and my companion couldn't do much walking, so I couldn't try all 3 in one sitting which I will do soon. I did stop by Tapatio which was the closest, but I tend to prefer it. Definately much more of a "Taqueria and Pupuseria" than Mexican grill and no mexican refried beans to be seen. Tacos were $1.50 with beef, pork, tongue, and chicken (whatever fillings you want from their fixins, including guac). They had a glass front fridge stocked with Pupusas to be griddled. Lovely looking fried yucca and a nice looking seafood stew, with a $9 plate to "basically try everything in the case." Big burritos, but not certain what beans in them. Fresh and inexpensive, so still good for a quick fix. I think Taco Loco has a larger menu. Still Taqueria La Mexican for soupy beans....

                          2. re: chef poncho

                            Tacos El Charro is Todd English's favorite mexican, he said. (Which makes it the only thing in the entire world I'd agree with him about.)

                          3. BTW, try Tu y Yo in Powderhouse Sq. A pleasant selection of dishes that exhibit Oaxacan and Yucatan personality. No as good as an Oaxacan place I visited in LA a few years ago, but great for the area.

                            The Salvadorean and Mexican places in East Boston are probably good places to start for tacos.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: limster

                              Powderhouse Sq? I'll have to look that one up =)

                              I've heard there are some good Salvadorean resteraunts around, any you'd care to recommend?

                              thanks!

                              1. re: Nechushtan

                                Up College Ave. from Davis at the rotary where College, Broadway, Harvard, and Powderhouse Blvd. all come together (did I miss any?). BTW, I've been severely disappointed by Tu y Yo all three times I've been, like almost inedible disappointed. Others (whose opinions I respect) clearly disagree.

                                1. re: Nechushtan

                                  Tacos Lupita is Salvadoran and Mexican. The closest one to you is probably the one outside Porter Square close to Elm and Sommerville AVe. Excellent torta al pastor and chorizo tacos.

                              2. I second El Serape and Tango.

                                1. Re: Argentinian, La Casa de Pedro in Watertown Square is technically Venezuelan (more sort of pan-Spanish/South American), but they have parrilla as well as empanadas that remind of ones I tried when I traveled to Buenos Aires--drier inside, darker breading. Otherwise I would concur with the other posters, for the true Argentine meat obsession go with a Brazilian churrascaria

                                  1. Speaking of Argentina cuisine in Boston, is there any place I can find Quilmes beer?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: veritas7

                                      I have seen it around, but do not remember exactly where.

                                      I think one place might be Barrios Liquors - (617) 623-3344 (they deliver also) on Broadway in Somerville and there is another liquore store which has a more central american clientel roughly about 3 intersections further "up" Broadway going towards McGrath. Just before or at cross st. If these two carry it SavMor on McGrath might too, but I have not seen it there.

                                      The other place on the Cambridge side of the river is La Internacional Foods in Somerville. Its a food market, but they have a wider selection of at least central american beers (the owners are guatemalan) and might have quilmes (617) 776-8855. Joe's package store across the street is worth a visit.

                                      If not, East Boston, Revere, Chelsea or Lynn. Or in Waltham try the convenience/package store on Charles St.

                                      1. re: veritas7

                                        Tango in Arlington serves Quilmes, and they also have very good beef empanadas and pastel de papa.

                                      2. Mexican: Jose's on Sherman St. in Cambridge and El Serape in Braintree. Tu Y Yo in Somerville is ok, but menu choices too exotic for me personally. Midwest Grill in Cambridge decent Argentine, but haven't been there in years.

                                        1. Different cuisine but same region, Venezuelen hole in the wall on Washington St., Dedham, almost to West Rox line - Viva mi Arepa. Have gone for arepas & empanadas for lunch - - also have dinner menu including steak. Very inexpensive, nondescript place - not fancy at all. Feels like you're in South Am once inside!

                                          1. I love El Triunfo on East Berkeley Street in the South End. It is a great little hole in the wall with one little picnic table to sit at, so we usually get takeout. And it is super cheap. There are some great little taquerias in East Boston in Maverick Square. I am not sure if Taqueria Cancun is still there but that was my favorite. Neither of these are in great areas, but if you love Mexican I say its worth it!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jules127

                                              I think Taqueria Cancun is replaced by Rostericcia (sp) Cancun in Maverick Sq. Not a beautiful area but not a problem to cruise around. As long as the ass fondler isn't on the loose. I'll reiterate my rec for Taco Mex just a few doors down.

                                              1. re: Joanie

                                                no, Taqueria Cancun has not replaced Rostericcia. Rostericcia is still there!
                                                :)
                                                Taqueria Canun was replaced by Taco Mex a few doors down and it is fantastic!!!!
                                                *drool*
                                                I came across this forum because I was trying to find the menu online (I lost mine :( and I want to order it for lunch!)
                                                Also Tequilas is further down east boston... across from orient heights t station and its pretty good too. A better neighborhood than Maverick.

                                                *more drool*