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Feb 17, 2008 06:11 PM

Authentic Mexican food Southern NH

One of the things I miss about not living in California, is truly authentic Mexican food, it is my favorite ethnic food, but I do not care for most of the American-Mexican restaurants that we have around here. I much more enjoy small Mom and Pop shops serving more than the usual fare. Here in Manchester...La Carreta is fine not great, Hermano's the same, Shorty's really isn't Mexican, Consuela's is good and authentic but more like a Mexican sub shop than a restaurant.

Has anyone come across the out of the way, hole in the wall Mexican joint with killer food in the Southern NH area?

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  1. El Mexicano on 197 Wilson St., Manchester. No frills- sometimes dodgy neighborhood, but great food. There is a Hispanic market across the street too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: edinaeats

      is that near 3 Cousins Pizza? I happened to be near there the other day the the store front. That's what prompted me to start the post. Definetly not Manchester's best neighborhood. My favorite Mexican food in Boston is in a similar neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, Tacos el Charro.

    2. I'm from Colorado, I feel your pain brother.

      Cafe Azteca in Lawrence, MA is pretty good. Don't know if I'd go so far as to call it killer, but it's about the best I've found.

      1 Reply
      1. re: humin

        From Colorado here too...LaCarreta is the closest in the Manchester area to authentic mexican food. Thanks for the Cafe Azteca tip humin!

      2. I agree with both suggestions, El Mexicano in Manch is very good and we love Cafe Azteca but only been once after many chowhounders sent me there. Need to get back to try more but we really loved it. Hubby won't go at night though, can be a sketchy neighborhood across from teh Common - we went on a Sat. afternoon. But same is true about El Mexicano - can be sketchy at night in that neighborhood. Still worth it for great mexican.

        6 Replies
        1. re: lexpatti

          I agree with Lexpatti and edinaeats about El Mexicano. The food is as authentic as it gets for Manchester. Had some of the best carne asada and manudo there.

          1. re: rmsoul

            This sounds like the kind of place I am looking for. Someehere with menudo, pozole etc. Do they have tounge and/or goat?

          2. re: lexpatti

            Lexpatti you are right, that area of Wilson Street is not the place to be at night.

            1. re: lexpatti

              Agree with El Mexicano being in a sketchy neighborhood. We went on a Sat afternoon in the summer

              1. re: lexpatti

                Being female, a Southern NH native, and having lived the past 10+ years in wacky parts of Boston and Brooklyn ...going essentially anywhere I please at night (except east new york) I find it hiliarious anyone could be sketched out in good old manch vegas! Don't be afraid of the brown guy NH!
                Unless you are going to be dining in Valley Street on the guard's night off, you're gonna be okay!

                1. re: butter and whiskey

                  Manchester is perfectly safe huh? I live right next to Centra High School, and a murder happened less than a block from me last year, and I live right on the edge of the good side of town.

                  There were 13 murders in NH last year, and 4 of them, almost a third, were in Manchester. And Manchester's violent crime rate is twice that of the rest of the state.


                  It seems like every time I pick up the paper lately I'm reading about some guy who was beaten unconcious and robbed, right near where I live.

                  While it's true that NH's violent crime rate is only 25% that of the national rate, Manchester's is twice that.

                  But you're right, Boston is more dangerous. Mass has a violent crime rate equal to the country's average, but Boston itself has a rate twice that. But most of that is in the south west part of Boston. Were you hanging around Roxbury?

              2. Second Cafe Azteca in Lawrence, family run, reasonable and excellent food. Been going there for years.

                1. I am not an expert...what makes La Carreta not authentic? The one in Nashua was great the one time I've been there...I went to the one in Manchester and it wasn't as good.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: observor

                    La Carreta is more Americanized Mexican food. They are good but they are doing the same menu every Mexican restaurant has done sine the 1950's for the American Palette, much like chinese restuarants all have the same basic menu that hasn't changed in eons. it is not an authentic example of the cuisine.

                      1. re: observor

                        much of the authentic mexican cuisine is much spicier, and the chili's have much more flavor. Not hot, but spicy. And sour cream is not used often. Corn tortilla's.. soft... are the normal. Hard taco shells are not common in authentic mexican. Lot's of marinated pork, like in carnitas. Lime squeezed on everything! Lots of fish and shrimp. This is just my observations from living in Colorado where there are many native mexican's living, and from our travels throughout mexico.

                        1. re: snl1129

                          I would add, if cheese is used it is cotijo, more or less a Mexican paramasan.

                          1. re: snl1129

                            Boy do I miss those roadside stands where they roast the chilis for you !! Still looking for a good green chili sauce here.

                            1. re: rmsoul

                              My ex husband is mexican and grew up in Colorado, he loved loved loved the green sauce at Hermano's - he litereally went through 1 1/2 tubs of it on his meal (while I could only handle a nice tablespoon). It's soooo hot but good, they usually bring a red sauce and a hot sauce to the table but they always joked with him that he could eat so much of the green. He grew up with non-english speaking grandparents who cooked only authentic mexican and he always said "most people wouldn't enjoy the real thing".

                              1. re: lexpatti

                                Okay so I have done the spectrum and here it is.

                                Margaritas <--> La Caretta <--> El Mexicano

                                Margaritas is great family fun, good drinking, downtown on Elm St. and its Mexican is probably the most mainstream.

                                La Caretta was great - definitely still family oriented, little less mainstream (Tamales were very traditional).

                                El Mexicano is not that family oriented (fewer tables, cafe style) but very authentic and very good.

                                All three have the place in the Spectrum of Mexican food, I think La Caretta is very good mix of both ends of the spectrum.

                                1. re: bergzilla

                                  I don't agree. I think the beans at La Carretta are bland, and if I recall the rice was only so-so, and everything else was either too greasy or wet resulting in soggy tacos.

                                  And Magraritas while more flavorful is practically inedible for the same reason most fast food joints are. Low quality beef and chicken + canned crap.

                                  The best mexican I've had in the area are El Mexicano and Hermano's in Concord.

                                  edit - Sorry, I don't mean La Caretta. There's some mexican place off Elm St I was thinking of. I have only eaten at La Caretta once, and I did not enjoy the food, but I don't remember what I ate and I think it deserves another try eventually.

                              2. re: rmsoul

                                Yes..the green chili's roasted in Colorado that come from New Mexico in the fall...very good! I love the green chili in Colo.