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Mexican hole-in-the-wall Fairfield Cty?

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MasterofLightChick Jan 6, 2008 11:45 AM

Please give me some good Mexican hole in the walls or even El Salvadorean, etc.. I am so tired of the same old names that keep popping up in the 'best of' lists which are not authentic and so Americanized. I do not want to see a 'burgers' section on my Latin menu! There have got to be a bunch around?!

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  1. southlake RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 6, 2008 01:51 PM

    you want it, you got it........the epitome of "hole in the wall" mexican is located at 22 wall st. in norwalk...........el mexicano restaurant......food is better than in mexico.......great mexican beer too.......

    1 Reply
    1. re: southlake
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      MasterofLightChick RE: southlake Jan 8, 2008 01:21 PM

      Sorry, but I don't agree with you on this recommendation. I've been several times and it still is sub-par. Yes, it's as close to authentic as we have here in Connecticut, but it's still not what I'm used to from L.A. A place I tried in Bridgeport the other day was better than El Mexicano - it was on Park Avenue/North Avenue.

    2. JohnnyCT RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 7, 2008 05:59 AM

      Here is a thread about the Mexican scene in Bridgeport.

      www.chowhound.com/topics/403597

      I was at La Poblanita recently and it seemed like they were going downhill. I heard they opened a place in Fairfield so maybe that has something to do with it, or maybe it was just an off day?

      This is my favorite Salvadoran place in Bridgeport:

      www.chowhound.com/topics/354982

      Look up adamclyde's posts to find some great info about latin food in Norwalk, Stamford, and Port Chester.

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        drepp RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 7, 2008 06:39 AM

        Try mi rancho in bridgeport, they have great tamales!

        11 Replies
        1. re: drepp
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          MasterofLightChick RE: drepp Jan 8, 2008 01:31 PM

          I have been to this place and liked it. It's getting me closer to that awesome food I left behind in L.A. but I still want to find more. Thanks JohnnyCT for the links - I've now got a bunch of choices to keep me busy in Bridgeport! Do you ever go exploring in Port Chester? I drove around there one day but wasn't successful in scoring any hole-in-the-wall finds.

          1. re: MasterofLightChick
            adamclyde RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 9, 2008 05:20 AM

            As a fellow L.A. native, let me just say a few things. First, don't expect to find the sheer volume of great places to try from and don't expect to find the regional variances of mexican food that you find in LA. There are no guelaguetzas, monte albans, king tacos or tacos baja ensenada.

            Now, that said, good (very good) mexican food can definitely be found in the area. It's pretty exciting since a decade ago this wasn't the case at all.

            As for Port Chester... give tortilla los gemelos a try. Excellent carnitas tacos and tortas. Very good sopes (buche and birria). Pretty good pozole, good chilaquiles, etc. Across the street and up a bit is el kiosko. I like the cemitas, huaraches, etc. Los paisanos, back down the hill has pretty decent barbacoa tacos (chivo ones there).

            And beyond mexican, there's great colombian, salvadoran, guatemalan and peruvian there too.

            Take a look at some of the past Port Chester mexican posts. There's a lot there.

            Also, if you get down to White Plains or New Rochelle, there's great stuff there. Hand-made tortillas, cochinita pibil tacos, quesadillas with huitlacoche... don't fret, you can get in your fix.

            1. re: adamclyde
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              MasterofLightChick RE: adamclyde Jan 9, 2008 01:13 PM

              What's your favorite in White Plains? Ooooh, hand made tortillas - where? And, thanks for all the suggestions in Port Chester. I have a feeling I'll be the only gringo blonde girl trying to get some good grub in these places!

              1. re: MasterofLightChick
                adamclyde RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 9, 2008 02:22 PM

                saw your other post on white plains. regarding your other questions... the hand made tortillas are at la herradura in new rochelle. You'll see a post or two of mine on it somewhere.

                And... you won't be the only blonde person there if I've got all my kids in tow... :)

                1. re: adamclyde
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                  MasterofLightChick RE: adamclyde Jan 11, 2008 01:11 PM

                  Oh, adamclyde, adamclyde, out of the 25 or so new hole-in-the-walls to try in the area, I ventured to Port Chester today to go to Tortelleria los Gemelos. And, when a parking spot opened up right in front of the place, I took it as destiny that was the place for me today. My problem is I am looking for a Casa Vega (Sherman Oaks) clone. It was o.k. that this place was not but every single thing I ordered except for the sopas was off in one way or another and it wasn't crowded. It was such a disappointment I can't even tell you. Basic rule, I want my Mexican place to slap down a bowl of handmade chips the second I sit down. You know this didn't happen there as they are extra ($4) and though home-made this batch wasn't the best.

                  Then, I tried to salvage my day because I wasn't full from lunch, so I headed to a bakery recommended by Jfood in Stamford for the "best cupcakes" near the Stamford train station. I took one bite and threw it away! I'm a Magnolia cupcake girl, so like mine a certain way, but this place was so old school East coast bakery - lots of fluff with little taste and reason to let the calories for this junk.

                  Then, third time was finally a charm when I sought out Los Portales in Norwalk on the way home, which saved the day with some tasty little morsels. Not the original Mexican meal I had hoped for, but some nice new options to get into my belly. One standout was a churro which was more like a Polish homemade donut - light and fluffy like grandma used to make. I like that little place.

                  So, next trip to Port Chester will be Kiosko, which looks to be more in line with what I seek for a proper Mexican meal.

                  1. re: MasterofLightChick
                    adamclyde RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 11, 2008 01:33 PM

                    I guess I'm not following what you want in a mexican restaurant. If you went to mexico, you'd almost never find a bowl of tortilla chips on your table. Are you looking for a california-style mexican restaurant or a mexican mexican restaurant? tortilla chips shouldn't be the benchmark (don't get me wrong...I like them too).

                    What was off at los gemelos, exactly? The food bad? No doubt, all of these places are inconsistent... (I too have had a bad meal at gemelos, btw) but then again, I don't think I've ever been to a mexican restaurant that isn't inconsistent.

                    Again, never been to casa vega, but I've been to a LOT in so cal over the years... Like I said somewhere else, comparing the quality of mexican food out here, as a whole, with the quality of mexican food in other parts of the country (like LA or Chicago or Texas, etc.) is a losing proposition. That said, I do think there are some good places for a fix.

                    Anyhow, give la herradura in new rochelle a try. It's pretty nice inside. They'll give you chips when you sit down. And the beef tacos (get herradura style) are good. With hand made tortillas. sounds more like what you are looking for. I really like the taqueria style places, so that's what I mainly focus on, which may or may not be what you want in a place.

                    Good luck! I do hope you find what you are looking for, but it sounds like you certainly won't find a replacement for the specific restaurant you liked in sherman oaks (where my in-laws parents lived, btw).

                    1. re: MasterofLightChick
                      adamclyde RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 11, 2008 01:41 PM

                      oh. btw, if you go kiosko. Get the churros just down a bit at the uruguayan bakery on the corner (panaderia uruguayan?). They are filled with dulce de leche. $1 each. The place bakes them off premises, so they aren't warm-fresh. But still worth the buck.

                      And, don't forget the paleteria fernandez on main in port chester for home-made mexican ice cream pops. Great stuff there (plus in the winter, they sell champurrado, elote and tamales.

                      1. re: adamclyde
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                        MasterofLightChick RE: adamclyde Jan 11, 2008 02:31 PM

                        Ooooh, churros - I stopped at Los Portales in Norwalk on the way home and had one. I know exactly what you mean and look forward to trying your recommendation.

                        You're right, there are 2 types of Mexican places - California style and the little taquerias, the latter of which my brother owned in SF - Nick's Crispy Tacos, btw, which was (and is) a popular place with delicious crispy tacos - the exterior shell soft, the interior one crispy...yummy.

                        For now, I'm looking for more a sit down place with the chips, the salsa, the sangrias or margaritas on the rocks and an array of platillos to choose from. To date, the places like this I've been to around Fairfield County are very Americanized, unlike how they were in Cali. And, I totally get your point about comparing.

                        Los Gemelos was off in a couple ways. They were on with the sopas, which were very tasty. And, I can see if you want the vast array of meat tacos, then this is your place. The chips themselves were off today - a little too baked and overdone. Now, I will gladly take an overdone chip over a piece of processed junk like you usually get around here, so I'm o.k. with that. The salsa served with them was fresh (again a huge plus) but the components simply did not gel together. You could taste each one individually but on the whole they didn't mesh and form a tasty little treat you want to devour up. What was absolutely awful was my enchilada plate with red sauce. O.K., I'm used to the enchiladas swimming in the sauce, but let's say 1 cup of sauce would be alot, this plate had 4 cups of sauce and completely drowned out everything. You couldn't taste a thing even after dumping it off and having red splatter all over the table! The rice was fluffy and delicious and the beans good though very meager. And, the service was less than desirable with no one there.

                        The pupusa place next door looks pretty good. Lunch special buffet was something like $6 - almost the cost of my chips at the place I ate. I do think the place up the street, Kioska, looks better and will definitely add the New Rochelle place to my list. I'm starting a cleanse fast on Monday so plan to eat out as much as possible until then! :-)

                        1. re: MasterofLightChick
                          adamclyde RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 11, 2008 05:59 PM

                          based on your description, go to la herradura in new rochelle. The food itself at kiosko isn't as good as los gemelos, though it is more gringo friendly.

                          The thing about taquerias (and los gemelos in particular) is to stick with what they do best - tacos. Enchiladas aren't usually a good bet there (or at any real mexican place as far as I'm concerned), or would be tortilla chips, etc. The carnitas taco at los gemelos is really the star. It's still the best carnitas taco in the whole area. Get that or the carnitas torta. You'll leave satisfied. Don't get anything catered for the gringo on their menu (burritos, fajitas or, even enchiladas in their case). It's a tortilla factory, so the sopes and tacos are best.

                          FWIW, the places you've been to - los gemelos and los portales - aren't americanized at all actually. They may or may not be good, but not americanized.

                          Oh, and definitely avoid the pupusa place next to los gemelos. It's not good at all. But, just around the corner is el rincon salvadoreno, which is very good if you want pupusas (get the pupusas con chicharron).

                      2. re: MasterofLightChick
                        jfood RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 11, 2008 02:19 PM

                        Oops, sorry you did not like the cupcake, but it is the best in the neighborhood.

                        Trying to compare to a NYC bakery is not a fair challenge in many things. If that is the benchmark, stay away from lots of things you took for granted in the city, i.e. bagels, deli, street meat (other than hot dogs).

                        Oh well.

                    2. re: MasterofLightChick
                      southlake RE: MasterofLightChick Jan 9, 2008 07:40 PM

                      i am a gringo who lives in port chester.......and there are mucho of us dining in these latino places!! no need to fret!!

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