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Mexican Food

I just moved to downtown from Texas, and of course will need a Mex fix now and again. Can anyone recommend a good spot--it doesn't need to be expensive or atmospheric. I'm just looking for the real thing!

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  1. El Serape in Braintree, and Ole in Inman Square (Somerville).

    1 Reply
    1. re: mibsphil

      Tu Y Yo in Somerville is my favorite-love the plantain empanadas.

    2. First, don't expect it to be as good as in Texas and you won't be disappointed. You don't say what part of town you moved to, but none of the Mexican places in greater Boston, with a couple of possible exceptions, are worth a trip across town. So, if you tell us your neighborhood, we'll tell you what the local options are.

      Here in Somerville, the best are Tacos Lupita, just outside Porter Square, which is really more Salvadorian than Mexican, and Taqueria la Mexicana in Union Square; both totally lack expense or atmosphere. In addition, some people like Tu y Yo in Powderhouse, but I've personally had a succession of bad meals there and won't go back without some serious prodding by my fellow 'hounds.

      By the way, Ole in Inman Square is in Cambridge, although it is right on the Somerville border.

      4 Replies
      1. re: DavisSquare

        Not to worry, my expectations aren't unreasonable, just looking for something that will be a fix. I plan on eating it only on rare occasions (I expect to eat a lot more of the foods I didn't have as much of in Texas now that I'm here). That said, I'm living in Back Bay close to the Gardens. Are there even any in my neighborhood. I saw Cactus Club, but that one looks dubious. I'm not even on a hunt for Tex-Mex, per se (though if there is one, I'd be curious even if it's bad, just so I could go by). Interior or coastal is always good.

        1. re: IHeartAsparagus

          As they say in baseball, good eye regarding Cactus Club, which dishes up a very poor excuse for Tex-Mex (though Zagat's reports their bar as being a good pick-up spot).

          In your immediate neighborhood is Casa Romero, which is probably your best bet. It has a little more in terms of sit-down pretensions than most local Mexican spots, and it has its foes on this board, but I enjoyed brunch there the time I went with Mrs. B. El Pelon in the Fenway isn't too far from where you are and does a pretty respectable job with taco joint fare.

          1. re: bachslunch

            I agree that your best / only option in the Back Bay area is Casa Romero. I used to live upstairs from this place, and I really enjoyed it as a neighborhood spot. I've since moved, so it's been a while, but I always enjoyed their mole, fajitas and their refried beans. Their sangria is also good, and would recommend that over their very small margaritas. It's also a nice atmosphere for a meal, not just a taco joint. (NOTE: It's down an alley off of Gloucester St., between Newbury and Comm. Ave.)

            My other favorites are:
            - Taqueria la Mexicana (Somerville, more of a taco joint...but my favorite, especially for carnitas)
            - El Sarape (Braintree, great food/more atmosphere...probably not worth a drive out of the city though)

            -----
            Casa Romero
            30 Gloucester St, Boston, MA 02115

        2. re: DavisSquare

          I'm with you on the negative sentiments for Tu y Yo. Way back when I had a good meal there, then a succession of bad ones like you experienced. Dry re-heated rice, ew.

        3. As a former Southwesterner now living in Boston, I'll echo DavisSquare's sentiment that you shouldn't set your expectations too high, particularly for Tex Mex, but there are some pretty good choices in town for other sub-genres, notably southern Mexican and Salvadoran.

          Another Texas transplant posted this question in June, which generated a thread with a lot of good information:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/408601

          I'll reiterate my personal favorites of the catchall Mexican genre: El Pelon, Tacos Lupita, Tu y Yo.

          1. Having relatives in San Diego (and visiting them as often as possible!), I've been a bit spoiled by the incredible Mexican food out there, but there are a few places I like for authentic food in the Boston area. Tacos Lupita in Somerville, El Sarape in Braintree, Taqueria La Mexicana in Somerville, and Cafe Azteca in Lawrence are a few that come to mind. Cafe Azteca is probably the best I've been to in the Boston area.

            1. For takeout there is Villa Mexicana in a gas station at 296 Cambridge Street across from Mass. General Hospital. Homemade salsa, chourizo, mole and very inexpensive. Open 9-9 except Th- Sat 9-11 and closed on Sunday.

              1. Don't overlook East Boston. Maverick Square has at least two places you might try, Taqueria Cancun (good) and Taco Mex (which I honestly haven't tried, but hear great things about). These are really Salvadoran or Salvadoran-Mexican places, but might be worth a shot since you say you're not necessarily looking for Tex-Mex. And easy access on the T (when the T's being easy, of course).

                Lots of other central-American food in Eastie if you're up for exploring.

                1. Try Jalisco and El Rancho Grande in East Boston. Tacqueria Mexico in Brookline or Waltham for horchata and lengua tacos.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: limster

                    second jalisco and el rancho grande

                  2. Hi,

                    I believe that Tacos El Charro in Jamaica Plain is still open. The owners were supposed to be retiring, but I've heard that they never did. If it is in fact still open, that would be an excellent place to try. It's pretty authentic and cheap and good.

                    -----
                    Tacos El Charro
                    349 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mwk

                      Tacos El Charro IS open - see our JP crawl - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/432652 - we had a great ceviche tostada there.

                      1. re: fredid

                        yes, still open, and pretty good. but not especially cheap.

                    2. It's not in Boston but not too far away for decent Mexican cuisine...Mexico Lindo on Main St. in Melrose. Never had a disappointing meal or service there...full sit down, full bar...decent margaritas and such.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Sal Monella

                        My last meal at Mexico Lindo was good, but not great (ordered a carne asada burrito). But the other times I've been there have been terrific, so I would still recommend it

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          I had lunch at Mexico Lindo yesterday, and it was my best visit yet. I left very excited to have it in my town. The menu seems a bit more sophisticated than in the past (haven't been in some time) with a broader offering of regional dishes. I had Albondigas, which I normally do, and they were simple but delicious, which they normally are. The real standout, though, was the Campecha - a delicious tomato based broth chock full of shrimp, octopus and avocado chunks finished with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro.

                          My other favorites are Taqueria la Mexicana, and while it pains me to write this... La Verdad. Granted, I've only been once - before the Manu Chao/Radio Bemba concert at Avalon, and will probably only return if Manu returns. The housemade tortillas were money, and the fillings were authentic, if not quite warm.

                          1. re: hiddenboston

                            The most disappointing meal I've had there was the chicken in mole sauce. The sauce was fine but the chicken was horribly dried out. But I agree, I always have a good meal there, not always great, but always good. Just make sure you don't get the house margarita- I am fairly sure they use sour mix for that one. The more expensive margarita doesn't use sour mix and it's SO much better.

                        2. Lots of good suggestions here already, especially the Eastie one. I'd add Taqeuria El Amigo in Waltham to your list as well. It's full of Mexican ex-pats every time I dine there, and I just love their tacos especiales.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Since this place is a bit off the path from the familiar Waltham restaurant rows, I'm adding a locator.

                            -----
                            Taqueria El Amigo
                            196 Willow St, Waltham, MA 02453

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              I have never seen/heard of Taqueria El Amigo, and it's quite close to where I live! I'll have to try it out. Is there anything that you recommend from there besides said tacos?

                              1. re: fbf242

                                The tacos especiales (with fresh avocado) are my clear favorites, especially the beef cheek, which is like fatty brisket or short ribs. I don't care for the burritos, which I think of as more of a Tex-Mex dish, whereas this place is real Mexican. I also like the Platillo Mexicano: a chorizo quesadilla, beef taco, chicken enchilada, rice, and runny refried beans for <$8.

                                They have sidra (carbonated sweet cider), Mexican Coke (cane sugar instead of HFCS, much better), Jarritos (Mexican fruit sodas), and pretty good horchata. Friendly little storefront, and telenovelas on the TV. My favorite Boston-area taqueria.

                            2. La Paloma in Quincy, next to the Wollaston T stop...that place and El Sarape are the best south of town...

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: known2eat

                                El Sarape, very good. La Paloma, very bad. In fact awful, just plain bad. La Paloma is to Mexican food what Chef Boyardee is to Italian food

                                1. re: jjbourgeois

                                  Unfortunately, I have to pretty much agree with this. I wanted La Paloma to be better, but it consistently dissapoints. They do seem to do well with very cheesy dishes (like nachos) and their salsa is very good, but beyond that the food is lackluster. Definitely not worth the inevitable wait. If you are in the area, El Sarape is much better.

                                  1. re: jjbourgeois

                                    My one meal at La Paloma wasn't all that great, either. Zagat consistently gives it high ratings, so there must be some people who like the place. Oh well, maybe they know something I don't know (or maybe I should try it again).

                                    1. re: hiddenboston

                                      La Paloma is a funny place. People either absolutely love it or absolutely loathe it. I hesitate to ever recommend it to others, because I have no idea which "camp" they will fall into. Personally, I like it for certain things. Their Paella is good, and that's what I usually stick to when I go. The nightly special is also pretty decent usually. I think what turns people off is the strangely sweet meat mixture they use in the tacos and burritos etc. It's just not out of any Mexican cookbook I've ever heard of.

                                      1. re: mwk

                                        I agree that it's a mixed bag.
                                        I end up at the tiny bar there with friends and it's a fun place but the food is definitely uninspired.
                                        I guess I'd compare it to a decent but completely inauthentic local Chinese food place.

                                        BTW, any recent reports on Ole in Inman Sq.

                                        I haven't been in ages and was hoping it had improved. I had some great meals there a few years ago.

                                        1. re: joestrummer

                                          Ole still rocks. I can recommend the pozoles, ceviche, and generally anything seafood. And of course the fantastic tequila selection and perfect proper margaritas.

                                        2. re: mwk

                                          Many years ago, we had good friends living in Quincy who took us to La Paloma, and we loved it. Mind you, this was before they had a liquor license and we used to bring our own margaritas in a thermos. I've been wondering what the place is like nowadays and may just have to try it to find out.

                                      2. re: jjbourgeois

                                        La Paloma served me possibly the worst food ever. I cannot fathom how they even stay open.

                                        That BBQ-saucy filling is absolutely sickening. Frozen food from the Stop and Shop next door would be preferable. And their salsa really isn't anything special.

                                      3. re: known2eat

                                        I love La Paloma. Their salsa is always fresh and the service is excellent.
                                        A friend of mine persuaded me to try El Serape a while back and I don't think I'll ever try it again. The mole sauce tasted sickly sweet, like Hershey's syrup, and the chicken was woefully overcooked. The drinks were overpriced and watered down. The salsa tasted like ketchup and I had to ask the waiter repeatedly to bring me a fork.

                                        1. re: heatherfields

                                          See...my point about La Paloma proven again :) Love it or loathe it. I don't know why that particular place provokes such strong responses from people.

                                          1. re: mwk

                                            I know...I'm thinking that either the place is incredibly inconsistent from night to night, or the food is inconsistent from dish to dish (or a combination of the two).

                                            1. re: hiddenboston

                                              I live nearby and was determined to give it more than one try. I tried at least three difft. entrees. It was consistantly dreadful. But the worst was the beef burrito filling. That was obscene.

                                              Now if we crave Mexican we go to Salsa's in Southie. Again not wonderful but 1000 times better than LP.

                                          2. re: heatherfields

                                            I hate to outright disagree with anyone, but even a novice Mexican eater would realize that LaPaloma is on par with Acapulco's which is not much better than Taco Bell. Plainly and simply, that place is a disaster. I live and work no more than 5 minutes from the place and have given it many chances to redeem itself. It stinks. I can't see how anyone would give it a passing grade. El Sarape is the only decent Mexican I've had south of the city.

                                            1. re: Guinness02122

                                              Guinness02122, I tend to agree, though I'd put La Paloma a little above Acapulco's (not much, though). And yes, El Sarape is excellent. Another place south of Boston (though a good amount further than Weymouth Landing where El Sarape is) is Mexico Garibaldi on Atwells Avenue in Providence. It's a tiny, charming place that is serves authentic, fresh Mexican food. Thanks to BostonBob for mentioning this place; I probably wouldn't have found it otherwise.

                                              Their Web site:

                                              http://www.resmexgaribaldi.com/

                                              1. re: hiddenboston

                                                If you are going to go down to Providence, its also worth poking around Central Falls, RI (1st or 2nd exit in RI) although at night it does get sketchy. Columbian, Mexican, other central american, Portuguese.... I haven't always succeeded, but each time I head down that way I try to check out something new there and/or something over in East Providence, Fox Point,.... Central Falls and Cumberland seem to be less hounded, although I don't watch the NE board that much.

                                                1. re: itaunas

                                                  Yeah, Central Falls has a similar restaurant scene to Chelsea and East Boston, from what I hear. I want to get to Stanley's down there, too, but haven't been able to make it yet.

                                        2. for SoCal style mexican food go to Taqueria Mexicana.

                                          I grew up in L.A. and this is the only place in Boston I've found with Taco Truck quality mexican.

                                          Of course, your from Texas so your really looking for Tex-Mex, so try Border Cafe, which isn't great, but its very Tex Mex.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Nechushtan

                                            Oh, please, please don't go the the Border Cafe

                                            1. re: raddoc

                                              Or if you do go to the Border Cafe, go mainly for the Margaritas, which are actually pretty good.

                                              1. re: hiddenboston

                                                And if you DO go for the margaritas, do NOT get a house one. Not trying to insult your intelligence, but the house stuff comes out of a tap in the wall and it's made with stuff you wouldn't serve an annoying 21 year old on his birthday. Well, maybe;) The cajun stuff at the Border is good. I like Cafe Azteca in Lawrence and Mexico Lindo too. I live in the Merrimack Valley, so I've been going to Casa Blanca lately. Food is good and the drinks are better :)

                                                1. re: BaileysMom521

                                                  I think I need to clarify--I was told I enjoyed the Margaritas on the nights I had them there. :-D

                                                  So you like Casa Blanca? Is that the place near China Blossom on Route 125? I think someone else told me it was good, but I don't know much about it. Is it authentic Mexican, or more Americanized, or a bit of both?

                                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                                    Kind of same ol' same ol' but good. http://www.casablancamexican.com/cont...

                                                    And yes, right after China Blossom.

                                                  2. re: BaileysMom521

                                                    Can you talk about Cafe Azteca a bit? I've just heard about it from a couple of people.

                                                    1. re: BillieJean

                                                      Very friendly staff and I think there's a band on weekends but I've never been late enough (always working). I've always had an excellent meal. Here's a nice link for you :)
                                                      http://www.hiddenboston.com/CafeAztec...

                                                      1. re: BaileysMom521

                                                        Thanks! I actually tried it last night and liked it very much. Nice atmosphere, great staff, and the food was fresh and delicious. I had chicken tacos and they were outstanding--definitely going back.

                                              2. re: Nechushtan

                                                I agree,
                                                Growing up in the Boston area Mexican food was the last thing I was looking to try until I came to So. Cali. been here since 1989 there's a big difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican both are excellent depending on your prefrence. Now I'm spoiled I don't go to any Mex. chain rest. I have the real deal Mexican Rest. where they don't speak english or have a green card.

                                                The frejolies are the best and so is the rice and I try and eat everything. The hotter the sauce and peppers the better the meal. I fine the off beaten path or corner shops in the heart of Santa Ana or Long Beach.

                                                I'll be coming to Boston in the near future so I'll have to head to Union Square and try a few lunch and dinner specials with a Negro Modella

                                              3. If you're in for a trip to East Boston, Angela's is a brand new little place on Lexington St. (and Brooks) that does fantastic homestyle Puebla cuisine.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: matthewjbell

                                                  Sounds great, any favourite dishes there? how's the mole poblano?

                                                  1. re: limster

                                                    Mole Poblano at Angela's is amazing. Check out this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/439520

                                                    Also like Taqueria Jalisco in Eastie, but there is not much in the way of TexMex here. The tacos de lengua at Rosticeria Cancun in Maverick Sq (NOT the same as Taqueria Cancun nearby), is pretty good.

                                                    1. re: jbowen1519

                                                      Great, many thanks for your tip, just ate at Angela's last weekend. Have you had the birria at Jalisco? Would love to hear about that-- it's on my list of things to try there.

                                                      I like Rosticeria Cancun too, but it's been a while since I've been back. Their pupusas are pretty good too. I'm also hoping to hear more about the new place that's opening in Maverick Sq, Cactus Grill -- it was supposed to scheduled for an opening this week.

                                                  2. re: matthewjbell

                                                    Hey, hey! We're (East Boston) just a couple of stops from downtown! But the T is doing renovations and shuttles next few weekends...

                                                  3. I can't believe no one has mentioned Anna's yet!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                      What about Rudy's in Teele Square, Somerville, for cheap enchilada combo plates and a wide range of moderately priced margaritas?

                                                      Or Jose's in North Cambridge, Sherman Street, IIRC. Jose's used to serve up some strange if enjoyable fare (ricotta in the enchiladas) but now seems more focused.

                                                      Not that I know anything about Mexican food, being a Brit, but I like these spots. As well as Tacos Lupita of course.

                                                    2. If you find yourself in Worcester, check out Tacos Parilla Mexicana. The real deal!

                                                      -----
                                                      Tacos Parilla Mexicana
                                                      138 Millbury St, Worcester, MA 01610

                                                      1. I just moved to Boston from Andover, Cafe' Azteca (in Lawrence) was one of our favorites. But our more recent favorite, and much closer to Boston although still a drive, is Three Amigos in Stoneham. Hole in the wall in a strip mall on Rt. 28. Very, very tasty.

                                                        1. I know it is controversial on this board but I love the tacos at La Verdad on Lansdowne St (across for Fenway Park)...I have been there several times, but only to the take-out window and have enjoyed the fish, carnitas, chicken and carne asada (my least fave of the bunch) as well as the grilled corn.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: saridt

                                                            Tried La Verdad recently myself, getting the chicken, carnitas, and fish tacos. Thought they were reasonably good, if probably not the first choice for those seeking authenticity in this item -- more like an upscale interpretation, perhaps. These were accompanied by a bean and slaw concoction that was greater than the sum of its parts (slaw and beans a bit dull by themselves but worked better as a tandem livened by what was likely salt cheese). They seemed a little pricey for what you get, if not as ridiculously overpriced as the bar tacos at Bonfire.

                                                            1. re: bachslunch

                                                              Once again it pains me to recommend this spot, but in response to your comment, the tacos at La Verdad were easily the most similar to the ones I had growing up in California and visiting Mexico often - especially Las Carnitas. And I really dig the handmade tortillas. The flipside, I have noticed with chagrin, is that certain items probably don't sell too well to the Fenway crowd. The linguas I tried probably should have been made more recently than it seemed.

                                                            2. re: saridt

                                                              What did you think of the grilled corn? TV diner had it featured on their dining segment and it looked interesting, although extremely messy!!

                                                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                                                The grilled corn is out of this world. Actually I've only had it at Toro, but I presume it's the same recipe at both Oringer joints. Can anyone confirm?

                                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                                  The show did mention that they served the corn at Toro as well, so I would assume it's the same recipe. I planned on going their yesterday, but thought it may be too crowded since the show had just aired. Ended up with a gorgonzola, prosciutto and potato pizza at Artu, so I'm definitely not complaining.

                                                            3. I just visited El Sarape in Braintree for the first time on Friday night.

                                                              It was a little tricky getting a table as no one seemed to be hosting, but we did some sleuthing and got a booth in the front room where a man was singing and playing guitar. Lots of people at the bar watching the Sox game. When we asked what kind of beer they had, our waitress told us "we only have Mexican beer," which was music to my ears. She brought out the beer, some fresh homemade-looking chips and a very watery salsa. She then asked if we wanted guacamole, and although initially deterred by the $6.50 pricetag on the menu, we gave it a shot. Two small ice cream sized scoops of gaucamole were brought out and we weren't really wowed by it.

                                                              For entrees, I had the Chicken Mole Poblano which was out of this world good. The best mole I've ever had was in Ensenada, and to my best recollection this one was right on par. My husband order the Carne Asada which came with a large piece of chorizo and a chorizo enchilada. It was also delicious.

                                                              Total bill came to around $50 with tip. El Sarape is located on the border of Braintree and Weymouth, not easily accessible by public transportation.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: DotDiner

                                                                Yeah, the mole at El Sarape is probably the best I've had in the area, although the mole I've had at Mexico Garibaldi in Providence MIGHT be better. Too close to call, though, IMO.

                                                                1. re: DotDiner

                                                                  If you like Cilantro, try one of the Cilantro dishes next time you go there. They are my favorites. Also, if you are into it, the fried Mexican chicken liver appetizer is out of this world good.

                                                                  Oh, and it will very soon be accessible by the MBTA Commuter Rail, which is opening a stop a block away. However, if you want, you can also easily get there via the #225 bus out of Quincy Center.

                                                                2. I would try Zocalo in Brighton. They have a dish called Cochinita Pibil, which is a slow roasted pork with bursting flafor, that is truly amazing. I'm from Southern California and have been hunting for good Mexican food for 7 years here. And this dish made me forget my favorites back home...

                                                                  1. I went to Tu Y Yo again this weekend, and I have to say I'm still quite impressed with it. This time I got the Chile Relleno de Camarón...a huge poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp, cheese and black olives, and topped with some kind of red pepper sauce. It couldn't have been better. Other guests got the Salmon in a guajillo sauce served with potato and shrimp cakes; the Tinga, which is slow-cooked, shredded sirloin, flavored with assorted peppers; and, in my humble opinion, the all-star of the table- Pollo Fortín de las Flores, which is chicken breast covered in a creamyish wine sauce made with scallions, red peppers, mushrooms, and I think cheese. Top the whole thing off with cactus cake, made with a a tequila-infused frosting, and you have what amounted to a really unbelievable meal-I highly recommend this place.