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New Haven County's Best Mexican?

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Any nominations? Any Southwest exiles out there care to weigh in?
I like Mezcal but there must be more out there...

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  1. Several previous threads on this subject. Here is one of them:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/164336

    1. I like Jalapeno Heaven in Branford.

      1. If you catch a crisp autumn day when the foliage is peaking, and you have time for a lazy lunch, go to Aunt Chilada's on Whitney Ave in Hamden. Their outdoor patio overlooking the golf course and Sleeping Giant mountain is a truly wonderful venue during that narrow nature's window. Their gringo mex is nowhere near authentic, but pleasant nevertheless. 'rita offerings are serious. Spectacular view at peak season, and makes the experience worthwhile.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          As I've said elsewhere, I can't believe anyone would seriously call their food good. Drink margaritas, eat the chips and salsa and skip the food!

          1. re: Scargod

            But the 2 or 3 weeks of glorious foliage can really make a special experience. Actuarially you will eat about 85,600 meals. How many of them so far really made a memory?

          2. re: Veggo

            I also would not at all recommend this for any food related reason. If folliage is important, take a walk.

            Aunt Chilada's used to be a decent place - long long ago. Now you get small portions of mediocre food - the prices being relatively high for what you are getting.

            You may eat many meals during a lifetime, and not many would be memorable - but why go to a poor place because of that reasoning.

            1. re: Jestner

              jestner, I guess I've been too nostalgic about this one. I grew up about a mile from the Sleeping Giant golf course which Aunt Chilada overlooks, and I rode my bicycle there for my first 9-hole "walk" there on August 20, 1962, at age 9. Alone, carrying my golf bag. I had to wait for the dew to dry on the first green. I still have my first scorecard. I'm 55 now, but I know every blade of grass there better than the Malavase or Butterworth family. For many of the early years, the proprietor of the restaurant at that time would bring me a big bag of french fries and sometimes a hamburger when he saw me on the green near the restaurant, because he knew I had played 18 and hunger was no obstacle because I was going to play 18 more when an all day ticket cost $2.50. He knew the last 10 cents in my pocket was to mark my ball on the green.

              1. re: Veggo

                Great story and I'm sure the golfing there is still great. However, Aunt Chilada's stinks. Seriously, the worst food I have ever had.

                1. re: acervoni

                  acervoni, you have provided a rare belly laugh with my coffee when the morning news is generally moribund. Hey, at least the free french fries were pretty good, 45 years ago, long before the mexican theme.

                  1. re: acervoni

                    I agree about Aunt Chiladas. ECK! I do not even know how they remain in business.

              2. re: Veggo

                Went to Aunt Chilada's and it was disgusting. I sent back my food. The rice & beans were horrible. My son asked if they had Carne Asada and they had no idea what that was. We ended up with plain ol' cheese quesadillas. I'm from the west coast and am having a hard time finding good mexican food. I would NEVER recommend Aunt Chilada’s.

                1. re: happiekamper

                  I see you are new to Chow/Chowhound and perhaps the New Haven area. It would help to know where you live or how far you are willing to travel to find good Mexican food. Do you want authentic or more Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex?
                  Search the New England board. Read up. There's lots of info if you are willing to take 20 minutes or so.
                  Here are some useful topics with good info: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/16433...
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/48349...
                  On this topic, start here and work down: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35225...

                  Guadalupe la Poblanita, in Fair Haven may be the best, authentic Mexican that is around. I think there is a fair consensus that that that’s the case. Some like Mezcal, in New Haven. More Tex-Mexy is El Amigo Felix, at the end of Broadway, in New Haven. Good luck! Report back.
                  Take the advice here and make up your own mind but don't go out unarmed and take pot-luck; there is too much crap out there. My tastes run from authentic to Tex-Mex (I'm from Texas). You can get a little feel for how Chowhounder's tastes run by who's (local) on their reading list, as well.

              3. The only place around New Haven I really like is El Amigo Felix in York Square. It's inexpensive and it has some very interesting dishes beyond the usual. The enchiladas stuffed with rock shrimp and the spinach burrito are two favorites. The margaritas are very good (not made with some bottled mix junk).

                This place is usually slow during the day and early evening, but it really gets hopping after 8 p.m. There's usually an eclectic crowd of students, families and couples there. The service has been very good.

                2 Replies
                1. re: shoes

                  I would agree that in the downtown/Yale university area, El Amigo Felix is the best and only place with food worth eating. If I have the time, I go out of my way to get to Guadalupe La Poblanita on Chapel.
                  Panchos Charlie's on Whalley in Westville is mediocre and not as good as El Amigo Felix. Viva Zapata was pathetic the couple of times I tried it.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    Hands down Guadalupe La Poblanita. Really nice people. Really great food. Really good value. We used to go to Baja in Orange and Jalapeno Heaven in Bradford probably the early 90s (?), but once we discovered Guadalupe La Poblanita, that was it for us.

                    http://www.blondieandbrownie.blogspot...

                2. Mezcal!!! And they have a liquor license now!
                  Aunt Chilada's is less than mediocre.

                  1. My favorite is Acapulco's, which is just across the river from New Haven County in Stratford. Get the Chile Rellenos, which are as good as any I've ever had, and I've had a lot.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: redfox697

                      In New Haven El Amigo Felix is the way to go. And someone already mentioned Jalapeno Heaven in Branford. Don't bother with Aunt Chilada's. If you're up that way, better to try Andale near Whitney and Sherman.

                      1. re: ugctenor

                        Tell me more about Andale... I found what seemed to be the restaurant's own comments which included (quote) "enjoy a hearty selection off authentic Mexican cuisine along with bar favorites that can include everything from wings to nachos."
                        Yea, sounds like an authentic Mexican place! Seems to be known more as a bar. Is it authentic, at all? I cannot find one review.

                    2. Mezcal is the best.

                      El Charro on grand ave also has great food, but is better suited to getting take out.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: EastRocker

                        Tell me more about Mezcal. I've heard a few say it's good (as well as a friend). Do they have any decent wines? We ate there years ago and my recollection was one of blandness and mediocrity. Is it just the style? Is it close to "real" Mexican? I just can't remember...

                        1. re: Scargod

                          I don't think they have much in the wine department. They have only been open a year tops, you probably went to the previous restaurant at that location (different owner/staff/chef) El Charro Allegre, which I agree was mediocre at best.
                          That said, I love it over there. Great authentic dishes, casual environment. I enjoy the cactus salad and ceviche he serves. The verde sauce on enchiladas makes me want to lick the plate. He also has a lot of dishes that I haven't seen at other places in the area like mahaca and some chicken cooked with chipoltes and raisins. Oh and he also rotates the salsas that come out with their fresh made chips. The entire staff including the owner are very friendly.

                          1. re: EastRocker

                            Can't be the place I went to; I'll have to try it!! Thanks

                        2. re: EastRocker

                          Finally got to Mezcal this evening. It is a smallish place that could seat 60-70 people. There is no bar. It is kind of a homey, neighborhood kind of place. While we were there, three young girs danced for the customers. I think they were friends with or related to the owners. It was fun. They were cute. There were quite a few kids with their with families, so this does not seem to be a hot spot for the college crowd.
                          They serve substantial chips and a mild tomatillo sauce. The chips are good but not thin and fragile. You can ask for a hotter sauce. Their roasted pepper salsa is quite good and almost hot. Guacomole salad is not on the menu. I asked for an appetizer of toasted bread with beans, cheese and pico de gallo.They did not have the bread to make it. I asked for chicken flautas and they came back again saying they were out and they could only do beef. The beef flautas were covered over with sour cream, chopped tomatoes and lettuce which made them hard to pick up and eat neatly. The ground meat filling had rice in it. Usually flautas are made with shredded meat. They were pretty tasty, all things considered.
                          I had the pork dish which simmers for a long time, so they say. It simmered long enough. Most of it was quite tender and juicy, and there was a lot of it. It came with pseudo refried beans, rice and a dab of guacomole. Probably they were not refried beans at all. Slightly soupy; they tasted good. The rice was fine.
                          SO had a chicken burrito. The chicken was dark meat; quite moist and flavorful. There was guacomole in the buritto.
                          Beer and wine is really cheap! $2.00 for a Dos Equis and $3.00 for a glass of wine! You can get a decent meal here without breaking the bank, too.
                          I'd say the meal was fair to good. Nothing very special. I'd say they have styled the food more for the gringos on State and Orange Street. Perhaps there are some bright spots on the menu but we did not get to see them shine tonight.

                          1. re: Scargod

                            I have never had a problem with them running out of something I ordered, I suspect that situation was unique to Cinco de Mayo.

                            Some of my favorite dishes there:
                            Ensalada de Nopales (cactus salad)
                            Tostada de Tinga
                            Chicken Mama Gude
                            Enchiladas Verdes
                            and some steak thing with cactus that i can't remember the name of.

                        3. I'm surprised by the comments about Aunt Chiladas, we go there at least 1-2 times a month. They have great fajitas and I think ther salsa is the best around. The quacamole can sometimes be hit or miss also I love their margaritas don't have more than 2..Andale is another good place up that way.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: redhed94

                            Again, I'd like to know more about Andale. There's no reviews of it that I can find.
                            Personally, fajitas are not representative of what "Mexican food" is about. They are easy, fast to prepare and almost foolproof; anyone can make them. However, chile rellenos, tamales and enchiladas are complex and time consuming to make properly. Complex flavors, textures and freshness in those are what I grade a Mexican place by. A good, fresh salsa and freshly made guacomole come second.

                            1. re: Scargod

                              Oh, Scargod, you are a harsh task master. What about the taco trucks and a BYOB six-pack, next time I drive through?

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Bring it on, big boy! Any time, any place. You can translate the Spanish I miss.
                                How about bringing down some fresh Allagash Black (or just surprise me)? I'll spring for the tacos.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  What no Pearl? Shiner Bock? Live Oak Ale(very, very good)?
                                  Sorry, I just drink very local, MDI beers. Google Atlantic, Bar Harbor and Jack Russell (Maine Coast) and Belfast breweries. Not bad 3 award winning breweries w/in 15 mi of my house. Don't Conn. liquor laws violate the 6th amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment?

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    I've had the Live Oak Pilsner... or perhaps it was the Pale Ale?
                                    Yes, Yummy. I'll pass on Pearl. Right now I am supplementing my creative juices with Ipswitch IPA. It is so nice here, in the NH area, today I think we will have lunch on the deck! I could make burritos, errr.. NE-Mex roll-ups?
                                    Did you see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50642... ?

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      NE-Mex roll-ups! How about a burrito from Gringo's Burritos in Bar Harbor. The owner is from the Mexican state of Minnesota! It's beautiful here too but our back yard and woods is still full fo snow w/ 6' piles along the driveway. Took out of the freezer this am some roasted green chiles and chorizo and corn tortillas from Austin(What a difference!) for din. tonight. Last night had carne asado verde corn tacos w/ pintos & salad. Ever have buttermilk w Mex. food? Learned that from mi cunadas (sister-in-law's) family. Tasty and I won't fall asleep grading compositions as I would if I had a cervesa.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        I know it's not in New Haven, but Fiesta Cinco De Mayo in Willimantic (1228 Main Street, 860-423-9524) is pretty darn good Mexican food, at reasonable prices.
                                        Should you ever find yourself in the Willimantic area, Fiesta Cinco De Mayo is defiantly worth going to.

                                  2. re: Scargod

                                    So Marco el Loco (aka Pass....keg Mainiac) and his wife took us up on the offer today. They came to our house and we had some guacomole and blue corn cornbread (Nevada corn). I think he liked both. We then headed for Guadalupe la Poblanita, in Fair Haven for a mid-afternon lunch.
                                    There were only three other tables occupied at about 3:30. We ordered cervezas, salsa, pico de gallo and chips for a start. Their guacomole was freshly made but starkly plain. I'm pretty sure it was just mashed avocado. Still, we had the stuff on the table to doctor it up, just about any way we wanted. Marco and wife ordered cheese chile rellenos and roasted goat (cabritto). It had a dark red chile sauce on top and the bite I had was juicy and tender. Nice sauce but not enough of it. I ordered beef chile rellenos and SO had spicy pork burrito. My chile was delicious with a mild, almost orange, tomato based sauce on top. It had potato mixed in with the beef and it was not just ordinary ground meat. The buritto was delicious, as well. The rice was rather plain. It was slightly redish in color, fluffy, soft and delicious. The pinto beans are plain and bland, with no particular seasoning note, but well cooked and salted. I had a cabritto soft taco with some raw onion and cilantro inside. It was a little uninspired. I don't think there was any lime or seasoning added. I think Marco's cabritto was a little jucier. It was still a decent taco.
                                    We had a great time and Marco conversed fluently (gracias, 10 years in NM for that), with the owner's daughter, and our waitress. She may be part owner, for all I know. I don't think I saw Mamasita.
                                    I got a WERU tee-shirt and two bottles of very nice premium Maine beer as a gift from Marco and we had lunch with very nice, new friends.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      Hey, Tex, I just stumbled upon this post! Funny, we had just met, it was such a short time ago, but in certain ways, a long time ago. We are now fast friends. The cabrito was very good and the owners were muy simpatica. The rellano was eh. I much preferred Tappatio, on Grand accross from the C-something or other Mexican grocery. But the best meal was the one we cooked last month t your house. Your ribs and my lingua, literally.

                              2. re: redhed94

                                Aunt Chiladas is downright inedible as is Andale!!! Sorry but neither serves what can pass for being Mexican food. Aunt Chiladas' Margaritas are from a mix - so sugary.

                                Next time you are in the mood for Mexican - try Baja's in Orange on the Post Road, decent Margaritas made from scratch and an actual salsa bar; also La Carreta on State Street in New Haven; Taqueria Mexican in Wallingford on Route 5; La Poblanita in Fair Haven.

                              3. El Tapatio at Ferry and Grand in Fair Haven is pretty good. It's mexican food, cooked by real mexicans, for mexicans. Here, you won't find ground beef tacos, or tostada salads, or big margaritas with umbrellas. You'll find Cabeza, Lengua, and carnitas. Tamales and Sopes, Tamarind juice, and liquados. Their waitstaff speaks minimal english, and it's in the heart of vibrant Fair Haven.. but the food (and their jukebox) is inexpensive, and authentic.