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Aug 23, 2010 09:27 AM

Good Mexican, Manchester NH

We've been to a few different places, and we're wondering what everyone's favorite in the area (or a short drive) is. We've been big Consuelo's fans. Tried Marco's on Goffstown line, it's new and just okay. Loved Tacos Colima on a recent visit in Nashua. What else is there?

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  1. we haven't been in a while but loved El Mexicano on Wilson in Manchester. We love Consuelo's too. Just north in Concord is still one of my favs at Hermano's and south in Lawrence is an excellent Cafe Azteca. There is also a new lil place on Valley St. in Manch that is just a few blocks up from Stop nShop/Walgreens (moving east on Valley).

    El Mexicano Restaurant
    197 Wilson St, Manchester, NH 03103

    1. I wouldn't recommend Hermano's. I don't see what people like about the place ... I found the service to be horrible and the food to be overpriced and unimaginative. La Carreta's in Manchester is good ... and inexpensive, for what it's worth. I can't say that they're any more imaginative with their selections, but I've never had a bad meal there, the service has always been good, and the drinks are great. There are, of course, the Margarita's restaurants in a few locations ... I know there's one in Concord and one in Manchester ... but they're essentially a chain restaurant and, in my opinion, not very original.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ira_M_Weiser

        Ira, thank-you for substantiating a thought I've had for YEARS regarding Hermano's in Concord. I've read glowing recommendations, on-and-off, for a long time with virtually no rebuttal, so I thought it was perhaps just a personal issue.

        The ORIGINAL Hermano's location was amazing, in their little space on Pleasant Street Extension, I think in the same place where Green Martini is (or was?). Bruce and Roberta owned Diversi's Market on Main St for a a few years before venturing into the Mexican food venue. Diversi's was a little convenience store, with some bongs and pipes too. Then with their opening of Hermano's in the early-mid 1980's they set a scene for an exciting food experience almost unprecedented in sleepy, boring Concord. The lines of people waiting for a table on a Friday or Saturday night literally went out the door into the street. It was really special in those days, while it lasted, but that's been over for a long time. When you ordered their pastor de avocado back then, it was fresh, plentiful, satisfying, delicious, and you could actually find slices of avocado in it.

        Since their move to their bigger location.... what - 15 or more years now, I keep going back every few years or so to see if anything's changed, but am continually disappointed. The food is nothing special these days, and the drinks and food are considerably overpriced for the quality, IMO. But who's to argue with their success, it's Concord, after all - I'd just rather choose to drive 20 min south to La Caretta in Hooksett for something cheaper, better, and with better service and no attitude.

        1. re: Dave B

          small world, ex hubby and I lived at Hermano's back in their old location at least on a weekly basis if not more and so true, they were outstanding then. I still enjoy them because NO ONE can make that fantastic garlic lemon sauce that I'm addicted to in many of their dishes. They still do a fabulous chicken garlic nachos that I just can't find anywhere. We like La Carrata's too, but enjoy Cafe Azteca in Lawrence even better.

          1. re: lexpatti

            I've gone to Cafe Azteca in Lawrence a few times over the years. The food is more "honestly" Mexican than most other restaurants in the genre. By that, I mean, it's more the kind of Mexican food you can find in Mexico, as opposed to Tex-Mex or Cali-Mex, etc. That said, the food may take some getting used to. However, the cooking is great, and the wait staff, when the place isn't overcrowded, is pretty good.

            The only bad thing about Cafe Azteca is parking. At certain times of the day, it's impossible to find a spot within a quarter mile of the place...!

            Cafe Azteca
            180 Common St, Lawrence, MA 01840

            1. re: lar3ry

              Thanks for the tip on Cafe Azteca. We're always looking for something different ... so we'll give them a try!!

              As for the "Old Hermanos," I agree and I understand that it was a great place many years ago ... until they moved. I have good friends in Concord that used to frequent the place ... and my wife and I did go there with them once loooong ago. At the time, however, and even though the food was quite good as I recall, we lived in Manchester and ... well ... didn't think it worth the drive to go back again. We now live closer to Concord and we gave Hermanos two tries ... once not long after they moved to their new location and then "the last time." :)

              It's really a pity that Hermanos can't do better than what they're doing. Concord could use a good, MORE authentic Mexican restaurant. Don't get me wrong, Margaritas is fine ... for a chain-style Mexican restaurant ... but quite frankly their biggest draw is eating in an old jail cell ... and not really so much the food. It's just as far for us to travel to La Carretta's in Hooksett (is there ANY easy way to get to Hooksett?? <smile>), for better, less-expensive food ... so we go there.

              For us ... where we live ... eeeeverything is 1/2 an hour away ... if not more ... so going out to dinner is a bit more of an event ... and I'm more picky with my dollars when it comes to a meal out. I am very disappointed when a meal doesn't satisfy and I'm less likely to give a place a second chance, let alone a third, after a poor experience.

      2. La Carreta has three locations in New Hampshire: Nashua, Derry, and Manchester. The food is pretty good there and arrives very quickly. Although they have the same name, they are individually owned and their menus vary slightly between locations.

        La Carreta used to have a location in Keene near the Colony Mill, but it closed. I've heard that (one of?) the chefs opened a different restaurant, which I'll explain in the next paragraph.

        I've noticed over the last few years a couple of newer restaurants opening with nearly identical menus as La Carreta, as well as presentations/taste of food. Perhaps they are also some sort of franchise from La Carreta; I've decided to call the style "New Hampshire Mexican." The two restaurants that I've discovered are Cancun, in Bedford, and Pedrazza's in Keene. (Pedrazza's is the one that I heard has a chef or cook from the old Colony Mill La Carreta.) If anybody has any further information on how these restaurants are related, I'll be happy to hear about it.

        La Carreta Mexican Restaurant
        139 Daniel Webster Hwy # 3, Nashua, NH

        La Carreta
        545 Hooksett Rd, Manchester, NH 03104

        La Carreta
        35 Manchester Rd, Derry, NH 03053

        3 Replies
        1. re: lar3ry

          Lar3ry, I got a chuckle out of your "New Hampshire Mexican" comment, as you hit the nail on the head. But we must made-do with what we have here in terms of NH Mexican food. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, all things considered.

          Along the same vein, see a fairly recent thread about El Tapatio in Nashua/Amherst (on 101A). Muy similar to La Carreta in the formula, so much so they are probably connected, as you eluded to. I just happen to find something a bit fresher-tasting about La Tapatio's food compared to La Carreta, but they're new so we'll see if that holds up. For the more authentic experience, I remain a fan of Tacos Colima in Nashua.

          1. re: Dave B

            I think some of the staff from El Tapatio may be from the Nashua La Carreta - they look very familiar to me. But, I'm there about once a week so maybe that's why they look so familiar to me! ; ) LOVE the Mocajete - we pretty much order it every time we go there, It doesn't look like much when you put it down but once you start eating it ........ there's a lot of food there!

            1. re: southie_chick

              I remember we had this exact conversation in the review of El Tapatio. We now at least have a definition of what is going on with these places..."New Hampshire Mexican". Much like the thread I started months ago concerning "New Hampshire Italian". lol

        2. I’ll throw in another vote for El Mexicano, and recommend Taqueria La Guadalupana on Valley Street which opened a few months ago. I’ve had tacos, sopes, and gorditas at La Guadalupana, and all of them were scratch made to order, and completely delicious. Fresh corn tortillas and a big fistful of cilantro are a perfect delivery vehicle for just about any kind of meat.
          And, I have to echo what others are saying here about Hermano’s. It was a step up from most of the Americanized Mexican food available in the eighties, but it’s a pretty clunky menu in 2010. I’d honestly rather eat at Margarita’s, because at least it’s honest about what it is: gloppy, greasy, fatty, cheesy pseudo Mexican food, perfect for piling into a stomach that’s already well full of booze . Hermano’s is the same stuff with all the fun sucked out of it. They’re actually smug about the fact that there’s no lard in their bland refried beans. The place is always packed, though, so why tweak a working formula.

          3 Replies
          1. re: crowdingthepan

            I just noticed that it's possible to attach photos. Gorditas, tacos and sopes from Taqueria La Guadalupana:

            1. re: crowdingthepan

              I went to Taqueria La Guadalupana today for the first time. I was happy to find that the owners/staff didn't speak English. Had fun ordering with a pleasant and willing staff member (or part owner? no idea!). I tried to order a burrito carne asada and a couple carnitas tacos. I was pleased about the tacos--2 soft corn tortillas, meat, onions, cilantro, with the red and green container of salsa on the side (loved the red--nice and hot). Because of the language issue I didn't get the carne asada burrito I was hoping for, but more like a braised meat/rice/beans/cheese deal that was quite tasty anyway. Part of the difference was definitely what I ended up asking for, I said yes to beans and cheese once I sort of got lost :). My critical thoughts on the food are: if I were in LA, I wouldn't go back. The competition there is intense and as a result you get incredible taste and cheap prices. Here in New Hampshire, you get cheap prices, and if you get REALLY lucky you get great taste. So, being in New Hampshire, I'd go back. It's definitely Mexican cooking, even if it's not the best street Mexican food on the planet. I liked the staff/owners. I mean come on, how many of us have a real Mexican Grandmother making us tasty stuff to eat? Another tell-tale indicator for me was the beans & rice on the side that came with the burrito. They weren't the standard disgusting from-the-can you would expect here, they had flavor, were properly salted and seasoned, etc. I could taste a smoky flavor from the grill or whatever. I actually ate them, whereas usually here I would pass. My biggest criticism is that neither the flour nor the corn tortillas were home-made, they all had that icky acidic smell and rough texture of commercial tortillas.

              I came home and looked up how to say a few key phrases so that I could order better for the next time. So, all in all, being very picky, I will go back to this taqueria.

              1. re: cmztrav

                yes, we were so happy to also have Taqueria La Guadalupana, besides Consuelo's, in Manchester. Have eaten there a few times, always good, I've had a waitress young woman who did speak perfect English, maybe the younger generation in the family or hired help. Man, I love gorditas and they have pretty good ones.
                Consuelo's is all about the street tacos (al pastor, carne asada or chorizo) and the agua de jamaica for me. Their veg burrito was also good, I branched out one time!

                The Taco Fest last spring in Manchester was a great idea, but a fiasco because everyone went out for it and none of the restaurants prepared enough food! After a couple places we hit, then the lines were long & by the time we got to the counter they were out, sometimes even out of the substitute they had scrounged up. But of course Taqueria La Guadalupana always has taco ingredients so we ate there and filled up at the end of the night!

                I live in Concord but won't eat Mexican in Concord, what's the point?

                El Mexicano Jr is also very good, down n dirty.

                I hope you all hit the Latino Festival in Manchester in August? Some good food and music there.

                El Mexicano Restaurant
                197 Wilson St, Manchester, NH 03103

            2. El Rincon Zacatecano Taqueria
              10 Lake Avenue
              Manchester, NH 03103

              Go. Eat. Rejoice.

              I'm from Arizona and have brutally high standards... This place is as close as I've come to good Mexican food in New England.

              2 Replies
              1. re: willongboarder

                The south end of Manchester has a high concentration of great ethnic spots--visited Saigon Market (whole fish and pork belly) and the Spice Market (halal goat) yesterday; drove by Zacatecano, an African market, a place selling lamb bbq, and other funky and authentic spots. Maple Street starting at S. Willow is a good place to start.

                1. re: whs

                  What's the lamb BBQ place called??? El Rincon Zacatecano IS great. I had some killer fresh tamales there and several first class tacos de lengua, followed by a little gratis loaf of pan dulce. I've got some pics around somewhere, but I can't seem to find them. Sadly, the owner is hyper religious, so no Tecate to wash it down.