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Border Grill Tex-Mex in Sasazuka

n
nekkotachi Nov 16, 2009 12:49 AM

In general finding good TexMex in Japan is a challenge. There are few such places and chains like Zest may have the splashy "Disney-like" decor but lack authentic flavor or a reasonable price.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I decided to try a place we had seen several times but always passed by near Sasazuka. Our past experiences with Mexican food in Tokyo lowered our expectations but at the Border Grill we were pleasantly surprised!!

This hideaway looks typically local....if it were in Texas. The busty fiberglass replica of a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader astride the sidewalk in front of the entrance may have looked a bit tacky but lent to a homy sense of Texan ambience.

Striking was the lack of people there on a Friday night (or the other nights we passed by). Sasazuka isn't a hotbed of activity but this haunt deserves much more attention!

Maybe it was several previous bad experiences with Mexican food in Japan that lowered our own expectations or maybe it was because we were really hungry that we found the food to be pretty darn good! It still wasn't "authentic" but closer to anything we had previously partaken in this country. The prices weren't too bad either!!! We left there satisfied and will definitely go back. Our meal for two with drinks was under 5,000 yen.

Boarder Grill is about a five minute walk from Sasazuka Station on Nakano Dori north of Kosyu Street. Their website is: http//:www.border-grill.com

  1. Robb S Apr 16, 2011 04:14 AM

    Libre opened April 1 in Aoyama (near Franc Franc) and their burritos seem to be a bit more interesting than those at Frijoles. Spicier, more garlic, more onions, more avocado - they're quite tasty. They also serve quesadillas, but only after 5pm. It looks like a temporary pop-up shop, but apparently it's semi-permanent. There's some open-air seating upstairs, and just a few chairs in front - it seems to be geared more towards take-out.
    http://libre-burrito.com/

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robb S
      h
      hello_liza Apr 18, 2011 09:39 PM

      Looking forward to checking out Libre! I went to Tepito in Shimokitazawa fairly recently. Food was decent but it's the only place in Tokyo I've been to that has horchata, the magical hangover killer. Plus the chef whipped me up some proper spicy hot sauce! Supposedly they have live music but think it could be a nightmare in that small space...

      1. re: Robb S
        gkanai Apr 19, 2011 01:04 AM

        Wow, very excited to find something better than Frijoles (which, I agree, is missing that magic something.)

        1. re: gkanai
          l
          lost squirrel Apr 19, 2011 11:07 AM

          I think the 'magic something' might be salt!

      2. n
        nekkotachi Jan 30, 2010 08:09 PM

        We went to Border Grill again and I have to say it was way better than what I wrote last year! Since then we have tried several other Mexican places. While some were pretty good, (like Frijoles) none had the flavor this place does. Without sounding like a cheerleader, it is the best Mexican food, thus far, that we`ve tasted in Tokyo and a great value price wise! We still cannot figure out why the place never seems to be filled....maybe because it is a bit of a walk from the station, not in a Gaijin neighborhood, or is it the big fiberglass busty woman at the front door?

        8 Replies
        1. re: nekkotachi
          gkanai Jan 31, 2010 12:15 AM

          How about Salsita which was in Ebisu and I think now is in Hiroo? There's another Mexican place in Hiroo on the 2nd floor in the shotengai- I forget the name. I used to like Salsita when it was in Ebisu. Haven't been since they moved.

          1. re: gkanai
            c
            clarkjt1 Jan 31, 2010 01:01 AM

            I have visited Tijuana many times and have eaten street food with caution but relish. I am currently in Yokosuka, Japan and just happened to be frequenting an area called the Honch. I was craving some good mexican and happened upon the a hole in the wall restrauant called the Mexican bar cantina. I swear with my eyes closed I was taken back to Tijuana. Maybe it was the Habu Sake, maybe not, but it was good.

            1. re: gkanai
              u
              Uncle Yabai Jan 31, 2010 03:03 AM

              You're thinking of La Jolla in Hiroo. I'd rather poke my eyes out with hot kushiage sticks than eat there. And that's no hyperbole.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai
                gkanai Jan 31, 2010 08:22 AM

                LOL! Well I didn't endorse it. :)

                I've only been to Fonda de la Madrugada once and it was for a big party so I didn't get to order what i wanted. I don't really remember the food there. I should go back to see what it's like as a regular diner.

              2. re: gkanai
                Robb S Jan 31, 2010 10:30 PM

                Salsita was great (but I also haven't been since they've moved). La Jolla is horrible.

                1. re: Robb S
                  steamer Feb 1, 2010 06:19 AM

                  Went to Salsita in Hiroo a few months ago for lunch, it's still pretty good.

              3. re: nekkotachi
                Robb S Jan 31, 2010 10:32 PM

                I thought I'd check out Border Grill for lunch, but it turns out they don't bother to serve Mexican food at lunchtime, which seems kind of strange.

                1. re: Robb S
                  l
                  lost squirrel Feb 1, 2010 06:12 PM

                  Similar to Tacos Amigo (or something like it) in Kanda. At lunch, they open the door just to sell regular bentos. It's very odd.

              4. Robb S Nov 16, 2009 05:51 AM

                I'm no Tex-Mex expert, but I enjoyed Frijoles in Azabu-Juban (http://www.frijoles.jp/). They serve "gourmet" burritos and tacos (soft-shell).

                8 Replies
                1. re: Robb S
                  l
                  lost squirrel Nov 16, 2009 08:31 PM

                  There is a 'period' attached to your link Robb, try this for the others in the thread clicking:
                  http://www.frijoles.jp/

                  EDIT: Thanks Robb for that link, reading the menu started my heart beating. I've debated creating my own big burritos but the cost has always kept me away. I can't wait to try it.

                  1. re: lost squirrel
                    l
                    lost squirrel Nov 19, 2009 05:20 PM

                    I went to Frijoles last night and was very happy.

                    It is a complete copy (rip off?) of Chipotle in the US. The menu--everything is exactly the same, even down to the drinks and the bags that the chips come in. I hope the Frijoles people paid for the menu/concept because it'd be a shame if they got sued for copyright infringement.

                    1. re: lost squirrel
                      l
                      lisajla Feb 4, 2010 08:37 AM

                      Looks like they are double the price of Chipotle. In the US, Chipotle is cheap food. 11,00 Yen for a veggie burrito is expensive.

                      1. re: lisajla
                        u
                        Uncle Yabai Feb 4, 2010 01:51 PM

                        11 yen for a burrito? What's in that burrito? Probably don't want to know!

                        1. re: lisajla
                          Robb S Feb 4, 2010 04:17 PM

                          Y800 for their chicken burrito seems pretty reasonable in Tokyo, considering the huge size. Yes it's more than McDonald's, but I wouldn't call it expensive.

                          1. re: Robb S
                            l
                            lost squirrel Feb 7, 2010 09:23 PM

                            Maybe if you just get a single set at McDonalds!

                            Before my, ahem, diet began - I spent an average of 1,000 at McDs every time I went. I think I might go for lunch one of these days to try out the new NY Burger.

                            1. re: lost squirrel
                              steamer Feb 8, 2010 07:03 AM

                              That's pretty serious, i've been on the 240 yen 2 cheeseburger diet lately, I don't know of any cheaper food in Tokyo, well unless it's the 2 hamburger 200 yen diet.

                    2. re: Robb S
                      l
                      lost squirrel Nov 17, 2009 06:30 PM

                      Metropolis had a little write-up about Frijoles in this week's issue:
                      http://metropolis.co.jp/dining/dining...

                    3. l
                      lost squirrel Nov 16, 2009 01:40 AM

                      I think this is a better website, the above goes to a US place.

                      http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e544100/

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: lost squirrel
                        n
                        nekkotachi Nov 16, 2009 02:04 PM

                        Thanks! This address is much better. The web address I posted was off their English business card and hadn`t tried it.

                        1. re: nekkotachi
                          l
                          lost squirrel Nov 16, 2009 08:30 PM

                          So they used a US companies web address without checking it first? Classic! :-)
                          I'll still give 'em a try.

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