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Boston Best Mexican Food?

My College "kid" is home to San Francisco Area from Boston telling me that there are no great Mexican restaurants in Boston. Please, tell me it isn't so. Where should he try?

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  1. just search Angela's on this board and give him directions....

    1. Tacos El Charro.
      Angela's Cafe.
      Tacos Lupita.

      3 Replies
        1. re: robertlf

          Not sure...used to hear great things, but haven't in years.

          1. re: robertlf

            I'm a fan of Tu Y Yo. But this is not a college student burrito place. More like stuffed cactus (needles removed). Only one dinner I did not fully enjoy -- on Valentine's Day - too busy.

        2. Much as I love the places below, including Angela's, none of them are on par with places you can find in the Mission in SF. Recently tried Cielito Lindo in Beverly and I would definitely add it to the Boston list. But still not SF quality.

          2 Replies
          1. re: StriperGuy

            Amen to that. I am a S.F. native and I keep getting disappointed with the Mexican food here. seems like any hole in the wall in the Mission is better than the "best" mexican food here. but i havent tried Angela's yet, so i'll try not to be such a snub and give it a shot

            1. re: craveyummyfood

              I brought a few transplanted SF Mexican food snobs to Angela's this weekend and they were pretty excited overall. The posole wasn't what they were looking for but the carne asada, with a bit of the (I think) rajas con crema on the side got high marks, as did the guacamole and beans. They were excited to go back and explore more of the menu.

          2. Are there particular dishes or styles that your son is looking for? I agree that Angela's is worth a shot (and a fun excursion if he doesn't get a chance to explore Boston all that much), but it's specifically Cocina Poblana, so might not have what he want. There are many things that aren't well represented here (e.g., Oaxacan cuisine), but if there's a specific thing he's looking for, it's sometimes possible to find a passable rendition somewhere. For example, if he wants gorditas, Tacos Lupita (recommended above) is Salvadorean and has pupusas, which might satisfy the craving :)

            If he's looking for burritos, that's a challenge, since that's really more California food than Mexican food, so even in places in the Northeast with sizable Mexican communities, the local population may not have come through California and adopted the burrito. There are a few places around that explicitly model themselves on California burrito joints (Boca Grande, Anna's, etc.), including one which amusingly has a "Watsonville" burrito--I suspect they're banking on people in Boston having no particular associations with Watsonville! I personally have found my experiences at these places unmemorable or worse (including much, much worse), but they may just be inconsistent, because I know that some people love them.

            15 Replies
            1. re: another_adam

              While I like Angela's quite a bit, I think it is quite far from serious Cocina Poblana. Good, but not fabulous. I don't think any Mexican is well represented here. This is Boston, we make do with what we have.

              E.g. I don't know any place that cooks their meat over charcoal. Noone serves cabrito. I have never had a mole pipian here that was made truly from scratch, and even Angela's mole, my guess starts with a jar of Mole paste...

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Yeah, I definitely wasn't disagreeing about the assessment of the Mexican scene here, just echoing with the general sentiment that Angela's is one of the few places with recognizable renditions of things :) In style and selections, I'd put it together with some of the Poblana "oval plate special"-type places that one finds in CA. But yeah, one definitely has to set their expectations accordingly.

                (Though I must admit that my conclusion that great Mexican food isn't to be found in the northeast has recently been overturned, after discovering that there's a thriving Oaxacan community with a couple decent restaurants in Poughkeepsie, NY! Perhaps there are similar finds to be had in western MA)

                1. re: another_adam

                  Poughkeepsie, sort of doesn't surprise me.

                  Quite a few of those towns, not too far outside NYC have thriving immigrant communities quietly doing their own thing. In New England we get more of the Khmer, Hmong, Vietnamese, Cambodian crowd in Lowell, Cranston, Lynn, etc.

                  Good food from Mexico is SO VERY HARD to find in the north east; Poughkeepsie is lucky. Almost worth the 4 hour drive. Heck, not too far a drive from my dad's.

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  Oh my, where did you hear that false rumor about Angela's mole? Angela makes her mole from scratch over two to three days. It's one of the dishes Angela is most proud of since it takes so much work. Unless they've changed everything since we've been there, all of her sauces (pipian, adobo, etc.) are homemade. We used to be able to chat and spend time with her and she'd tell us personally about her recipes, Pueblan specialties, and cooking at restaurants in Mexico.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Hey Rubee... I've had her mole, several times. To me, having made mole from scratch myself, it doesn't have the oomph of made totally from scratch.

                    I don't taste the raisins, the sesame, the recently roasted chiles, coriander, recently lightly toasted, and ground; I don't get that from her mole. Smooth, nice enough, but no complexity, no zing. aA mi, no tiene amor.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I wonder if it's changed (haven't been there in more than a year)? I've made mole from scratch also, and we eat our fair share traveling locally and in Mexico as that's Ernesto's favorite dish.

                      As I mentioned, I'm not guessing - we've talked to her personally many times, and she's told us not only that she makes her mole from scratch every week, but also how she does - the usual myriad of ingredients, fruit/variety of dried smoked chiles/nuts/sesame seeds, soaking, pureeing, straining, simmering, etc. I think in the first two months she opened, E had her mole 5-6 times.

                      I would just hate to have that information be said if it isn't true, especially after learning how hard she works in the kitchen making the sauces her hometown of Puebla is famous for.

                      1. re: Rubee

                        I hope I am wrong. Sort of sorry I even said it now. And of course you guys have certainly eaten way more mole then me.

                      2. re: StriperGuy

                        Pipian doesn't need raisins. I make it in my restaurant from scratch (when it's on the menu), and I use duck fat, lettuce and turnip greens, tomatillos, garlic, onion, cilantro, epazote, cumin, serranos, pepitas, peanuts and chicken stock. I can't even think of a brand of mole paste for a pipian that would help, plus it's easy to make.

                        No one uses charcoal, as you mentioned, but it's probably a zoning issue, and not enough Bostonians eat goat to support its place on a menu. Even Angela, as well as my admitted friends at Cantina la Mexicana are dying to use chicken or turkey legs, but Bostonians will only eat white meat.

                        1. re: almansa

                          Which is your restaurant?

                          I knew pipian didn't have raisins. Dried fruit for poblano.

                          1. re: almansa

                            Plenty of BBQ in Boston that uses actual wood, and quite a few of the Brazilian Churrasco places use charcoal.

                          2. re: StriperGuy

                            While I have to agree that I do not love angelas mole, it is my understanding that "mole" is like indian "curry" - every region, town and family has a slightly different rendition of the basic recipe. From reading your posts I suspect that you, like me, prefer bold flavors and assertive spices - angela's is surely homemade, just not the way you would make it in your home.

                            1. re: tdaaa

                              Mole, really loosely translated almost means "sauce." "Mole poblano" the chocolate based... And yes there are as many moles as there are Pueblan kitchens. That said, honestly I still don't feel the love with Angela's mole.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                I'm in agreement with you, although my "gold standard" mole poblano is from an upscale mexican restaurant in Philadelphia, which is another city not famous for mexican restaurants.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Yes... Mole is derived from the Nahautl word for sauce which eerily matches the pre-modern Indian definition of a Curry which has nothing to do with the spice blends... it just means a thick puree of certain viscosity & Indianess... but in both cases the definitions are less restrictive than defined by 20th century writers.

                                  In the 20th century definition... Mole is typically a complex sauce that features chiles & nuts / seeds as the required ingredients with a wide range of other players.

                                  Mole Poblano is but one regional style of a category of Reddish Brown Moles broadly referred to as Colorados / Coloraditos. In other words... most municipalities in the Southern states have their own take on Mole Colorado... which may or may not contain chocolate.

                                  Convresely there are Green, Yellow, Red, Black, Yellow & Orange traditional Moles as well as contemporary favorites like the White Chocolate, Rose Petal, Coffee, Tamarind based moles et al.

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    Amen! and where do I find "contemporary favorites"?

                      3. It's not in Boston and I am far from a Mexican food expert but we love La Siesta in Winthrop. The food has always been fresh and delicious. I think their Chipotle Wings alone are worth the drive. Each time we've been there the owner has come over to the table. He told us that he uses his mother's recipes so all the dishes are what he grew up eating in Mexico. I'd love to hear what others think of this place. http://www.lasiestarestaurante.com/

                        1. I've only been to Mexico some 40 times and live part-time in San Diego, San Jose, Atlanta. There are plenty of overpriced good Mexican restaurants but I wouldn't call them 'great'. Some of the highly recommended ones here I have gone with my Guatemalan friend and none of them really stand out enough for us to crave a repeat visit. I'd repeatedly write less than flattering reviews on citisearch and they'd repeatedly get erased.

                          1. Having been spending the past few days around LA and stopping at random taco stands whenever time permits, I can say that Tacos Lupita in Somerville is better than half the places I've tried so far on my trip. Remarkably good corn tortillas, meat (my favorite is the al pastor), and sauces, especially the excellent red sauce. It won't win a bake-off with the best of LA or SF, but I'm newly impressed with just how reliably good their Southern Mexican and Salvadoran fare is.

                            1. Thank y ou so much for all of your input. My son will have several choices now.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: foodie327

                                I still like Casa Romero. Their food is closest to my "grownup" experiences in northern Mexico

                                1. re: maggie may

                                  I completely agree...while some of the best Mexican food is from those hole in the wall places, Casa Romero is a welcome change of pace. And it has the best pork dishes i've ever had.

                                  1. re: maggie may

                                    Oh, god, please do not send someone from SF to Casa Romero. We went there shortly after moving here from SF based on several recommendations that this was "the" Mexican place in Boston. It was so bad, and so disappointing, that we were sure that we had made a huge mistake moving here :-) Casa Romero is definitely NOT authentic, has terrible, sloppy food, and seems to cater mostly to people who don't know what Mexican food is supposed to be.

                                    Since then we've found quite a few gems that stand up to Californinan Mexican restaurants. We're fans of Angela's in Eastie, Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham, and Rostiria Cancun also in Eastie. If you want more of a "sit down restaurant" experience, we like Ole in Inman Square - like everywhere it has its ups and downs but lately has been more up than down.

                                    1. re: Sgt Snackers

                                      Ditto that on Casa Romero. I have spent mucho time in Cali and the SW...yes it is amazing CR survives but on ignorance I guess. I love the place in Waltham too and Cielo Lindo in Beverly also is pretty good. It's beyond me why SOMEONE can't replicate real Mexican cuisine here in NE. It ain't rocket science and the ingredients can be had.. WHY OH WHY OH WHY ?!?!?!

                                      1. re: ipsofatso

                                        While it is certainly a totally different scale, I had some pretty tasty tacos at Romano's in Roslindale Village yesterday. What a nice surprise.

                                        We were at the farmer's market and asked a couple of the market volunteers where they suggested we have lunch. They laid out a tour of the area for us that was wonderful. It was great to be directed by people who love the area and their local businesses and are proud of their neighborhood.

                                        We'll return soon to spend a longer time exploring Roslindale.

                                        Penny
                                        http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                2. Taqueria Mexico in Waltham. It's on a side street off of Moody and is cheap and fantastic.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: qwertyu

                                    I second that...have it every Friday for lunch!

                                  2. Hands down - Jalisco in East Boston. Tiny place, big menu. Amazing homemade salsas.

                                    1. I still do not understand why people who come from places outside New England with good regional food are "shocked" when they cannot find that same quality of their regional food in Boston. If you like Mexican food and are from California or Arizona, please undestand that Boston will not have as good Mexican food. Similarly, if you come from Philadelphia and like cheese steak subs please understand that Boston will not have as good cheese steak subs. Or if you come from Texas, please understand that Boston does not offer first rate Texas BBQ food.
                                      What Boston (and New England) does offer that you will not find elsewhere, IMHO, is fabulous New England seafood dishes like fish, lobster, chowder, etc. as well as very solid European and Fusion food (and Speeds!)
                                      So if you son cannot find good Mexican food in Boston, fine. Ask him what he thinks of the Boston's lobster rolls, Speed dogs, and North End Italian food, or pizza from Regina Pizzaria or (further away) New Haven, CT.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Delhiwala

                                        Could not agree with you more, Wala.

                                        1. re: Prav

                                          I just checked out Angela's website and I'm drooling. As I've heard many good things about Angela's, I passed on the recommendation to a nephew who just graduated from college and wanted to take out his family for helping him achieve his great education. I did not see prices, so I would hate for the kid to face $20-ish entreees as he plans on having about a party of 10 or so. Any heads up on prices ???? Thanks.

                                          1. re: Buddernut

                                            Something along the lines of $6 small guac, $9 LARGE guac (amazing and enough to feed a table), $2 tacos (chicken/carne asada), $2.50 al pastor, $3 for a fish taco (but you need to order 3 of those). Entrees were in the $10-14 range if I remember correctly. Also there are probably a bunch of things that are less than $10.

                                            1. re: rknrll

                                              Thank you so much...that fits this young fellows "shallow pockets" nicely.

                                              1. re: Buddernut

                                                Oh also...the tacos are small but quality is superb - and I'm not sure if they do reservations or what, but it's a pretty small place...so he may want to look into it.

                                            2. re: Buddernut

                                              He should be aware that it's a small place- a part of 10 might be tough to seat all together.

                                          2. re: Delhiwala

                                            of course you are right. i'll try to get over myself. i'm a Cali transplant and have been "just visiting" boston for 14 years! . . . i guess i need to check out some other chowhound threads about good seafood in boston because quite honestly, i find that the seafood that i got on San Fran's wharf has been better than anything that i have tasted here. i guess i just havent found the right places. we tried jimmy's on the wharf and i was underwhelmed, but maybe i did not order the right dishes. and then again, it doesnt help that i dont like oysters,clams,mussels and firm flesh fish.

                                            1. re: craveyummyfood

                                              For starters Jimmy's is horrible. And "i dont like oysters,clams,mussels and firm flesh fish" more or less = "I don't like seafood."

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                What does that mean - firm flesh fish? Like tuna and swordfish? What does that leave behind? Trout? Salmon? Cod? Just curious.
                                                If trout fits, CYF, try the whole roasted bronzino at Kouzina in Waban(Newton) or the whole roasted dorade at Blue Room. Bet you'll like 'em.

                                          3. Had a rather excellent meal at Taqueria El Amigo last night. VERY unpretentious place but the tacos: lengua, al pastor, and carnitas were really top rate as was the small order of guac. The guac was fresh and delish.

                                            Also had tres leches cake and a bottle of water. The whole dang tab was $12.40. Hell of a meal for crazy small money.