Cherokee Street around the 2600 block is the center of a growing Mexican community in St. Louis, and there are a lot great spots there. They tend to be little hole-in-the-wall places, nothing fancy, but great food. I'm kind of partial to Azteca for chorizo tacos. There's also a place on the north side of the street that's connected to a grocery store that serves turkey mole in weekends. You can't always find someone who speaks English in some of these places. Once I went to Azteca and couldn't think of the Spanish words for "to go," so I ended up eating in the restaurant.
For truly authentic Mexican, I would have to recommend my fav which is:
Pueblo Nuevo Mexican Restaurant
7401 N Lindbergh Blvd
Hazelwood, MO 63042-2120
Phone: (314) 831-6885
I drive from the east side to eat here and love the food and the service. The Morales family does a great job w/ authentic Mexican dishes and they have a great tequila selection as well. Real margaritas too upon request..ya know the squeezed lime juice, etc.thing. Deelish!
Pueblo Nuevo is good, but I don't feel like it's as good as it was before it expanded swallowing up the former Velvet Freezer store front. I got turned on to it when I was a cook at the Racquet Club Ladue, becuase I asked our tennis pro, whom was Mexican, where he personally went for Mexican food. He said the owners of Pueblo Nuevo were from his village and that was enough for me.
One nice thing there, is that you'll see goat, and a few other things you just don't tend to see in St. Louis.
I also second La Vallesana, and really, many of the places on Cherokee are all excellent Taqueria's. If you speak Spanish, so much the better, because the few times I've found myself in the neighborhood, there was a lot of pointing going on, but it couldn't have been more worth it. The first time I went I wanted Tacos al pastor, and they were out, so I just pointed at the torta another customer had, and said give me that. It seemed to catch them off guard that I was unconcerned with what "that" was. It was awesome though. I'm torn each time I go, and always fold for the tacos though.
They also have an ice cream joint across the street. They have a bunch of great flavors you wouldn't normally see. The one I had the one time I went was pine nut. It's a good thing La Vallesana isn't close to me, because I'd be there several times a week, because it's also ridiculously cheap. This amount of flavor should cost more.
I will add to the list, however, Senor Pique. It's on Manchester Rd, in I assume Manchester just East of Baxter by the BWM dealer. It's the first place I had Tacos al Pastor, and it along with a lot of the other dishes, are more authentic then the El Maguey's of the world. They don't have any sort of traditional tacos or burritos or the typical Mexican sampler platter fare. Service can be a little spotty, and the margaritas aren't great if that's s must for you, but the food is excellent, and when you're looking for a nicer Mexican restaurant this fits the bill.
...and while I speak of margaritas I'll also throw Las Palmas into the mix, and specifically Las Palmas in Woodson Terrace on Woodson road. There are three Las Palmas in the area, and from what I gather, they were at one time all owned by the same people. They are now not, and the only originally owned one is the Woodson Terrace location. Though the menus are the same at the other two, this one if far more consistent. The first time I ate there in about 2000, all the vegetables were cut (turned) in such a way that someone in the kitchen had clearly worked in a nicer kitchen at some point. I really don't know how authentic Las Palmas is, but what I do know is that it's well cooked and full of flavor. They have a corn/jalapeno creamed soup on the menu that is consistently one of the best soups I've ever had in the city. They have a great crabcake. They have some of the best refried beans around. But, more then anything, they have the Las Palmas margarita. That's specifically what one of them is called, and even a small pitcher yields you at least a half gallon of delicious intoxicating nectar.
2801 Cherokee St, Saint Louis, MO 63118
Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant
4030 Woodson Rd, Saint Louis, MO 63134
14424 Manchester Rd, Ballwin, MO 63011
Pueblo Nuevo Mexican Rstrnt
7401 N Lindbergh Blvd, Hazelwood, MO 63042
thanks for the detailed review of the Mexican choices in St. Louis.
Am I wrong in assuming that all of these "authentic" restaurants use lard in the refried beans, tortillas, etc.? We don't eat pork products, and stick to vegetarian items when we eat out, so we haven't gone to these "real" Mexican restaurants.
We are stuck with "Zuzu" in Clayton, which uses vegetable oil. Not great food by any stretch, but tasty. Certainly better than Hacienda.
Can you recommend a good Mexican restaurant that doesn't use lard as a regular ingredient?
Thanks, p.j., who would love some great Mexican food.
My vote for best Mexican (and I've tried a lot) is a little place on Cherokee called "La Vallesana" (I probably spelled it wrong). Don't look for a sign. It's a little "shack" - must have been an ice cream stand many years ago. It's painted with a lot of brightly colored murals on the outside, and on the east side is a small area with tables and some umbrellas. It is one of the family places along Cherokee Street, a few blocks west of Jefferson (cross street California, I think). I usually order the Tortas - unbelieveably good. I went there today, in fact, even though it was really hot outside - it's just that good. Most people would not stop here, but trust me you will be rewarded. This place is flat out great. I don't know if it's open for dinner: I'm always there for lunch.
Totally different kind of food, but I also love Nacho Mamas - not exactly Mexican, but really tastey and the best margarita's in town hands down. It's not far from you - Manchester Road in Rock Hill.
Go to La Vallesana for lunch - you will love it!
Then I'm a fan of el Maguey. I think their Concord plaza location is the best I've tried. The Burrito Jalisco (this must be an American or even midwestern thing) is really good, but NOT authentic in any way. ;-)
We are in South County and have a couple decent little places with tasty food. Las Fuentes and Tequila both serve similar menus to el Maguey with reasonable prices and great service and good Americanized Mexican food. They have my kids eating tacos w/ white cheese instead of "orange" so that's a start, you know?