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Providence dinner - Latin American food

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My friend's birthday is next weekend. She has mentioned a few times that she has a hankerin' for some Latin American food, which I think she would define as anything from Tex-Mex on down. There will probably be a group of about 6 for her birthday. Do you have any recommendations as to where we should take her?

She'd like for it to be in or around Providence. I'd like it not to be Tortilla Flats, because I've never had great food there. I'd also like it not to be Taqueria Pacifica, because although I think the food there isn't bad, I think she'd prefer a sit-down-order-at-your-table kind of place. She's lived in the southern US, so I think I need to find a place that has good food - mediocre wouldn't cut it for her. (She's not a food snob, I just don't want to disappoint her)

I'm at a loss. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Don Jose Tequila's has outstanding authentic Mexican food. The best nachos on the planet, and a tequila bar that is just outstanding. It's on the hill. I've been there with J&W chefs who all rave how it's the only thing in RI for authentic Mexican.

    1. Taqueria Lupita in Central Falls would be my choice for awesome *real* Mexican food if you don't mind it being outside of Providence. Here's an old review I found on them for ya:

      1. For gourmet Mexican food (at non-gourmet prices) check out El Rancho Grande at 313 Plainfield St, Providence. Maria, who opened the restaurant with her son, does all the cooking and insists on authentic and high quality ingredients. Great sangria too! I was just at the fund-raising event Food For Thought this week and their food was some of the best there.

        1. I got a bit lost in the super long Mexican food thread, but figure I'd add my recommendations as well. I've spend about seven years living in Mexico, and my husband is from there and has only been in Rhode Island for four months.

          We found Don Jose Tequila's revolting and not "authentic" at all. Would never go back there. We also were not pleased with Taqueria Lupita and found it overpriced and not very good.

          Places we DO like: Maya Azteca on Pocasset, although the crowd gets dicey the later you are there. We also like Tierras Mexicanas (especially now that they have moved and have a restaurant rather than taqueria and also serve alcohol. Located in Central Falls. Oh, and El Tapatio is great...but of course they do certain things to cater to the non-Mexican crowd.

          We've friends coming in from NY shortly (one of whom has only been in the US for a few months as well) and will go to either Chilango's or El Rancho Grande and will report back!

          1. to back up others: Chilangos on Manton Ave just past Atwells or Taqueria Lupita in Central Falls

            2 Replies
            1. re: celeriac

              Oh good lord, do I love Chilangos. Is it ever open??

              1. re: modysoul

                No kidding! I am happy, though, that Chilangos being closed one day (I think it was Good Friday) helped me discover Mi Guatemala a few doors down, which is also very yummy!

            2. Thanks for all your responses. I've bene to Don Jose's and thought it was fine. Not outstanding, but not bad. Chilangos is probably the top of my list because the atmostphere is pretty good. What's El Rancho Grande like? That sounds promising.

              Are there any a bit more upscale Latin-American restaurants in Providence?

              1 Reply
              1. re: amees

                Atmosphere-wise, El Rancho Grande is a bit quieter than Chilangos but definitely still casual.

                I forgot to mention that I, too, like Chilangos. Especially when I get a hankering for their version of a Salty Dog (grapefruit soda & house-made tequila).

              2. I have to say, we were terribly unimpressed with Taqueria Lupita in Central Falls. The food wasn't very good, the totopos were from the day before, and it was pricier than it should have been. And they were sloooooowwww.....the food we ordered (tacos and tostadas) should have been grilled up lickety-split, but it took forever, way longer than tacos should take.

                We ended up at El Tapatio on Saturday night, and everyone loved it. There were those Americanized touches that always confuse my husband, like coleslaw accompanying the meals and that ubiquitous cheese melted over the beans. But the carne asada was divine and hubby was psyched with his pork in green chile sauce. They do put names on things that we're not used to, but what you actually get is delicious.

                The salsa was kick a$$ and the best that hubby has encountered this side of the border, and the aging bus boy was more than happy to give us containers of it to take home. I did wonder where the handmade tortillas went, or if they're not doing that anymore...but it was ultimately for the best as they fill you up so fast.

                1 Reply
                1. re: GabachaYucateca

                  Just tried El Rancho Grande....and I think it is superb. Very authentic, ordered 3 dinners for takeout and they gave me 3 tamales gratis. The complexity of the Mole sauce on the enchiladas was outstanding. Most dishes are 8-9 dollars max. The portions are a bit larger than Taqueria Lupita. Boneless chicken dishes are very spicy, especially the one made with pumpkin seeds. They are not byob...beer is 3-4 dollars each. My fave Mexican in the area...