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Mar 4, 2008 10:05 AM

REAL Mexican in S. CT

I'm a fairly recent transplant to the area from Northern CA, and I am absolutely certain that there is good Mexican food to be found around here; I just haven't found it as of yet. Not the lard-leaden joints that have nachos on the menu, but fresh, flavorful faire is what I'm hoping to find.

Any recommendations would be highly appreciated!

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  1. this is a topic of ongoing debate on here.

    in my opinion the most authentic mexican around is to be found at Mezcal on Mechanic St. in New Haven, and I have tried most places within a 15 mile radius at some point.

    also good is El Charro in Fairhaven (New Havens hispanic neighborhood)

    do not under any circumstances, no matter what anyone says, go to:
    Aunt Chilada's, Viva Zapata's or Su Casa

    6 Replies
    1. re: EastRocker

      Thanks East Rocker. Are te three you mentioned just horrifically bad?

      1. re: wineaux73

        I would say that those three are very americanized, which depending on your point of view can be good or bad. Some people love them for some reason, I am nto one of them.

        for example:

        1. re: EastRocker

          I agree with eastrocker you would be better off going to the supermarket and getting a mexican TV dinner then going to Aunt Chilada's

          1. re: EastRocker

            Recommend reading the EastRocker posts on this topic---educational and good reading. A So Cal native, imagine my confusion and horror when I discovered my first year here, that the green flecks in Su Casa's salsa were oregano. When mixed with garlic and tomatoes, isn't that Ragu? La Poblanita Guadalajara made me feel better, and I'm told by CT friends (who have lived in San Diego) that Baja in Orange is as close as I'll get in CT to what I'm after. I also cherish finding the tortilleria on Grand, all the smells coming out of there are dead on, and proximity to C-Town for the rest of the ingredients is a plus too.

            1. re: Julie S

              Thanks Julie! I agree with you on Baja, they do have some great stuff, but the ambiance is a little lacking. Interestingly the owner of Mezcal (my current mex of choice) worked for many years as a waiter at Baja's before going into business for himself.

          2. re: wineaux73

            I would say "yes", but I have not been to Su Casa.

        2. The Chile Rellenos at Acapulco's in Stratford are as good as any I've had, and I've had some good ones.

          2 Replies
          1. re: redfox697

            I was told there was a great Mexican place in Port Chester, NY, but can't remember the name. I might have to look that one up, although that's a bit of a drive for me. I went to a Spanish tapas-type place in Port Chester called Sonora that was fantastic. They had the most delicious drinks. It was really wonderful in every way.

            1. re: wineaux73

              You might be talking about Coyote Flaco
              I haven't been there in a couple years, but I do remember it fondly.
              My favorite on-the-cheap-authentic place is Tacos Mexico in Norwalk.

              Coyote Flaco
              115 Midland Ave, Port Chester, NY 10573

              Tacos Mexico
              82 Fort Point St, Norwalk, CT 06855

          2. Here is a thread about authentic Mexican places in Bridgeport:


            I suggest you search posts by Adamclyde, he is another California transplant currently living in CT. He has written about a lot of good places in Stamford/Norwalk/Westchester.

            1. We REALLY like Puerto Vallarta in Middletown. "Authenticity" means different things to different people, but the owner (who is Mexican) told us that they don't serve chili because, in his opinion, chili is Tex-Mex and not really Mexican.

              They have a truly outstanding "sampler plate" that you might want to try


              7 Replies
              1. re: Redstone

                Thanks Johnny. I will do that!

                That makes sense that chili is more Tex Mex. Remember when it was easy to find Tex Mex? It's fallen to the wayside as of late. I still like it at a hybrid of Mexican food. I'd love to check out the tried and True Tex Mex places like the ones Anthony Bourdain showed on his No Reservations segment on the Tex/Mex border.

                1. re: Redstone

                  Thanks for that tip. We will definately try it! Being a Texan, I miss Tex-Mex. As far as what is here, I really don't care what the label is, I just want it to be good and somewhat authentic. Yes, I believe chili is not an authentic Mexican dish but in Texas, it was highly influenced my Mexico. In Tex-Mex, you can sometimes get a sauce on tamales and enchiladas that is a mild (and usually thin) chili con carne. Chili is usually only served at "Chili's", which doesn't claim to be Mexican anything. I believe theirs is highly influenced by Frank Tolbert and Wick Fowler of the Terlingua, chili cook-off fame.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    As a recovering New Mexican, I can attest that chile (w/o out beans!) is very New Mexican and is very diff. from Old Mex.,Tex Mex, Arizona & So Cal. Within New Mex. the great chile debate is between Chimayo red chile and Hatch green chile. I think an extention of the old saw is in order. Never discuss religion, politics or Mexican food in polite company. I just returned from a week in Austin and am going through taco truck detox. Loved it. Will try Puerto Vallerta instead of O'Rourkes and try to find Mechanic St. or the taco trucks in NH.
                    Gracias a la Vida

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      I have been to New Mexico more times than I can remember (usually to ski at Taos or Santa Fe) and I grew up on Tex-Mex. I've eaten it all over Texas for 50 years. When in my 20's, I once had three Tex-Mex meals in a row.
                      A couple of months ago I was in Austin for a week, myself. I ate as much "Q" and Tex-Mex as I could stuff! One evening we ate at Fonda San Miguel, the famous "Mexican" restaurant in Austin, which (as I understand it) has a good representation of specialties and unique flavors from a number of different Mexican geographical areas. Pics are from Fonda San Miguel. I have not been to Mexico, so I cannot say I know any of the distinct regional styles of Mexican cooking but I know it can be simple, bland (and meatless) or fancy and spicy. For many years (in Texas) I ate at the "Taqueria Gaudalajara", a very small restaurant where the majority of the patrons (and waitstaff) spoke Spanish and where they served menudo, soft tacos with tongue or "barbacoa" and had a great chicken mole. I guess in my old haunts I felt comfortable, but here, I'm unsure about areas and I have a companion who doesn't like iffy or sketchy places (and wants a glass of red wine with her meal) so that is limiting us.
                      Last night I made chile rellenos with a chicken mixture infused with chipotles in adobo, potatoes and sharp cheddar. I coated the poblanos with batter and baked them till brown and bubbly. I made a sauce from dried Guajillo peppers and poured that over them. We had them with seasoned hominy and fresh guacomole. We were swooning!
                      I know I am hurting my arm, patting myself on the back, but I don't do this too often. Mexican food can be simple or really labor intensive. That's why I don't make tamales often. That's why I'd like to find the reliable restaurant that doesn't take a half-hour to get to. I'm just outside of New Haven and getting to Guadalupe La Poblanita takes us a half-hour. :( Fortunately it's BYOB, so we can have a good wine.

                      1. re: Scargod

                        "If God had wanted Texans to ski, he would have give them mountains!" From men's room wall in bar in Durango, Co. Where do you'al get a Frito Pie? Taco's al Pastor? A pork tamale?
                        Why does it only cost $.50 to talk to the devil in Houston?
                        Local phone call.
                        I've got my Yankee wife lovin' Mex comida. I cook it more than half the time. Get CARE packages sent from N Mex. On the other hand, try finding a lobster or clam roll in Austin!

                      2. re: Passadumkeg

                        (more) Photos I meant to be in last post. Grrrr... Chowhound's inflexibility!
                        Also from Fonda San Miguel. These are making me hungry!

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Now I'm really pissed! I had TWO images selected for the above post and Chowhound's wonderful site only uploaded one of them... and, now I've tried again and it didn't upload or add it at all.
                          Anyway, just imagine another beautiful (baked) poblano chile stuffed with a mixture of spinach, goats cheese, raisins and pine nuts, served with a tomato sauce....

                    2. Does anyone know of any places in Fairfield County for good Mexican food? I loved Azul Tequila in Norwalk but they closed so now I am looking for somewhere new. Any suggestions??