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LA transplant looking for the Best Mexican Food /Markets in the Area (ESPECIALLY MOLE!!!)

I know this is an overwrought question, but I seriously miss LA Mexican food (I am Mexican By the way). I know that it would be a hard stretch to find an LA duplicate... but I'm looking for a place that is as authentic as possible especially in the following categories

1. Mole
2. A very good house salsa (especially salsa verde)
3. Good carne asada/fajitas/
4. Possibly Mariscos or at least shrimp tacos?

So Far I've tried :
-Jose's in Cambridge ( not too impressed though its better than other stuff I've tried)
-Anna's Taqueria... okay
-Boca Grande ( I think its pretty decent)
-Border Cafe (Tex Mex.. but the fajitas are my fave)

Please give me pointers... detailed suggestions.. hell... I'll even take your best suggestions on where to find mexican food ingredients so I can cook it my self.

Bonus points if you can tell me where I can actually buy any of the following items (preferably not online):
-Cast Iron Comal
-Clay olla
-Basically any authentic mexican cooking utensil..

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  1. To start , take a look at this thread about Jalisco in East Boston - love their birria-see pix: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/638840. Other places in Eastie are Angela's Cafe (many threads on board) really like her mole, pepian, guac, http://angelascaferestaurant.com/. Taqueria Cancun & Rotisceria Cancun. There are many other nearby, wonderful Latin places: Peruvian, Salvadorean...all easily accessible by T.

    1. Also pop in to try the burrito spot inside the gas station on Cambridge Street in Beacon Hill - Villa Mexico - if you are in the market for Anna's etc. The lady who runs the place is Mexican and may be able to give you the lowdown.

      Villa Mexico
      296 Cambridge St, Boston, MA 02114

      1. For shrimp tacos I'd recommend Dorado in Brookline.

        1. Welcome. In Somerville, Tacos Lupita (may be Guatemalan but does Mexican) has an excellent torta al pastor. I heartily agree on the Angela's rec in East Boston. The mole is excellent and the chorizo gordita is also very good. I haven't found a good Mariscos but again in East Boston, try Rincon Limeno, which is Peruvian but has excellent fried seafood and ceviche.

          Rincon Limeno
          409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

          1. There are several markets owned by Salvadorans/Guatemalans on Broadway in East Somerville that may have some of the utensils....Amigos Market is one. Probably similar markets near Angela's or ask the servers at Angela's.

            1. Unfortunately mexican food in this area is very weak compared with LA. Cooking it yourself is pretty much the way to go. For your cooking utensils and supplies I recommend El Chavo in Roslindale Village which also stocks dried chiles, mexican meats and cheeses, tortillas, etc. I don't think they have all the items on your list but probably most of them. also, all the lucha libre masks you could ever want.

              And as a bonus you can check out Romano's Pizzeria across the street which has some decent tacos de suadero, campechanos, asada etc... sounds unlikely but there it is. It's not LA quality (or Chicago, or NYC, or basically anywhere with a mexican population) but it's pretty good.

              Romano's Pizzeria
              311A Merrimack St, Lawrence, MA 01843

              1. my go to is Tacos Lupita outside Porter/Davis - great al pastor and tongue, no mole - and have generally liked Taqueria La Mexicana in Union Sq Somerville. they expanded a few years ago and it may be all in my head but it just doesnt seem the same since. Mexicana has a full bar, Lupita doesnt serve alcohol.

                Picante in Central Sq has a decent mole. ive only ever had the real deal once, so to my New England palate it's very passable! great salsa bar. serves beer and wine.

                1. Also in Somerville is Cantina la Mexicana in Union Square. Good food and very friendly owners. Ask Roberto where you can find the housewares you need.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: yumyum

                    Oh they must have changed their name when they expanded - yes Cantina la Mexicana is where I'm talking about.

                    cant wait for a Mexicano to report back about our sad offerings!

                    1. re: 5thAndNowhere

                      If the OP is okay with Boca Grande and Border Cafe, I would imagine he or she will do backflips over Angela's and Taqueria Jalisco.

                      1. re: robwat36

                        I've never heard of either of those places, i'll definitely try it =) Border Cafe is tex-mex in my opinion... but has good food - Boca Grande is better than Anna's lol

                        Boca Bar & Restaurant
                        11 Pine St, Waltham, MA 02453

                  2. I bought my molcajete at the Crate and Barrel downtown - it's not huge, but for $30, it holds enough salsa or guacamole for a small gathering.

                    As for ingredients/cooking utensils, there's a little storefront in Union Square, Allston called Mayfair Food that might be worth looking into. They have a lot of mexican/south american imports - sugars, grains, dried chilies, etc. and there's also a section for utensils. I've never purchased anything besides the ingredients, so I can't vouch for quality, but it's a possibility.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kriken

                      You can occasionally get a great deal on a molcajete at Marshall's or Home Goods, otherwise I've seen piles of them recently at Sur La Table.

                    2. If you are ever in or near Waltham there are a few Mexican grocers on Moody street and a Guatemalan restaurant near by and Taqueria Mexico restaurant right off Moody near Main st. across from the park.

                      Taqueria Mexico
                      24 Charles St, Waltham, MA 02453

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: catspercapita

                        Taqueria Mexico is my favorite Mexican in the area. I even like it more than Angela's. The grocers are pretty good too: that's where I get my corn husks for tamales.

                        Taqueria Mexico
                        CLOSED, Brookline, MA

                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                          Decent little grocery with good assortment of Mexican Items:

                          Mayfair Foods
                          506 Cambridge Street
                          MA 02134-2006
                          (617) 782-5539

                          There is also one on Moody in Waltham.

                          A very good one in Union Square (or street) in Lynn.

                          Tropical Foods in Roxbury is pretty good.

                          So is Hi-Lo Supermarket in Jamaica Plain.

                        2. re: catspercapita

                          i like taqueria el amigo better than taqueria mexico but i had an excellent birria (made with goat) a few months ago at taqueria mexico

                          1. re: galangatron

                            I never liked Taqueria Mexico. I don't think they use sufficiently fresh ingredients.

                            Taqueria El Amigo is a fun little place with good food, a bit out of the way but a quick detour from Russo's.

                            Taqueria El Amigo
                            196 Willow St, Waltham, MA 02453

                            1. re: Luther

                              Luther - it's funny how the luck of the draw comes into play and shapes our lives. I went to Taqueria El Amigo a few times with not good results. One time a bad shrimp dish there kept me close to home for a day and a half and another time it was just a big shrug ho-hum. I'm determined to try it one more time, but every time I get the inclination my car seems to head down Moody st. to Taqueria Mexico. Even on busy nights I've done pretty well there.

                              Taqueria El Amigo
                              196 Willow St, Waltham, MA 02453

                              Taqueria Mexico
                              CLOSED, Brookline, MA

                              1. re: catspercapita

                                True. My opinion is based on about 5 visits over 2003-2005. I haven't been since, so maybe I should try again.

                        3. La Internacional is a good Guatemalan/Mexican market in Union Square Somerville. Between them and Christina's Spices in Inman Square we were able to make a very good mole. Olecito has shrimp tacos. I am no expert on the subject so while I can say that they are appetizing, I can't vouch for how they would compare to your ideal.

                          12 Springfield St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hckybg

                            I am also from California and I have given up on eating good Mexican food in a restaurant so I make it myself. La Internacional is the best I have found. They have the best selection of dried chilies to make mole.

                          2. HiLo in JP is a good Latin market.

                            There's a Mexican place in Arlington that makes a mean tableside guacamole in a proper mortar - Ole I think? I will second Tacos Lupita near Porter.. I love that place.

                            You probably would have had better luck with the utensils in LA. Actually, if you are ever passing through Hartford, CT, they have a nice Latin district with some good stores and eateries (Park st.). I picked up a proper molinillo there..

                            Cazuela - kitchen store in Concord, MA has some nice larger ones

                            Comal - American cast iron is about the same as Mexican cast iron. Lodge makes a good round griddle that would function the same..

                            Ollas and the like - good luck. For good stuff, an online spanish-themed store or someplace like Bram in Sonoma is your best bet.

                            Metate - you are really going pretty hardcore here.. you are going to start making fresh masa?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: grant.cook

                              The Mexican place in Arlington is Zocalo. I think it used to be called Ole. It's owned by the same people who own Andale on Summer Street in Boston. Though the Zocalo website seems to have disappeared. Anyone know if they are still open?

                              1. re: stomachofsteel

                                Hope so. I got burritos from there about six weeks ago and the place was hopping. Love the carnitas burrito with a bit of smoky hot sauce and their tasty guac.

                                1. re: bear

                                  They also make a great spiced mashed potato quesadilla and I think their guac is great, too.

                                2. re: stomachofsteel

                                  Zocalo in Arlington is open. I was there for dinner on Saturday.


                                  203 Broadway, Arlington, MA 02474

                              2. You have moved to the wrong place. Think lobster rolls and chowder.

                                Just kidding.

                                Great responses above.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  I want to second that, really GREAT responses above. Makes me proud to be a CH'er.

                                  I really hope the OP posts back on what he finds. Since I left SF, I've had to radically re-adjust my Mexican expectations. I actually lament the departure of Baja Fresh, which I thought was pretty good (way better than Anna's for example) when it arrived. I actually have to admit (guiltily) that I recently went to La Paloma for some "gringo" Mex, and thought it wasn't half-bad, with OK salsa, great warm chips, good, reasonably priced margheritas, and pretty good other food.

                                  But it ain't Cal-Mex, that's for sure.

                                2. You liked Jose's?! Please share what you have had there that was decent. We wanted to love that place, but we didn't. Folks are so nice there, but the food wasn't.

                                  1. I think the closest to Cal-Mex fare around these parts is Felipe's Taqueria in Harvard Square.

                                    Felipe's is quick, cheap and does not have any liquor license. My favorite thing there is the carnitas, but everything is pretty good and fresh.

                                    Felipe's Taqueria
                                    83 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Gabatta

                                      Never been impressed with Jose's. The last Mole I had there was the Dona Maria jar Mole. If I'm going to eat Mole from a jar, I'll do it at home. The owners have opened a new place in Wayland called Viva which is more upscale. Super friendly, guac made fresh tableside in the molcajete, etc. The first time I went, they had a mole special which was good. The second time, the food was OK.

                                      I have come to like Tu Y Yo the best over the last couple of years. They have the Somerville location, and one in Needham with a completely different feel (and full bar). It's a bit expensive, but the slower cooked foofd and emphasis on sauces make it enjoyable. They normally have a coupe of different moles, and the menu varies slightly between the two locations.

                                      Still not the same as my favorite moles from El Agave in San Diego, but 3000 miles will dumb down your taste buds.

                                      1. re: Gabatta

                                        Very good call on Felipe's. I forgot about it, but it's pretty close to Cal-Mex, which relies much on freshness.

                                      2. I'm Mexican and have been in Boston for over 6 years now. I can safely say good Mexican food in Boston is as common as good Chinese food here. Dorado in Brookline is pretty good as far as the variety. Anna's is completely overrated and by far the most bland Mexican food around here. Zocalo is pretty decent, but every time I eat there I have to ask for salt because they're too afraid of over-salting their food. I would recommend El Pelon out in Brighton or El Triunfo in the South End. They come pretty close to good Mexican around here.

                                        As for shopping I would go to Hi Lo before they close and become a Whole Foods. I know they have ONE aisle that is mostly Mexican foods. I've seen tortilla presses and molcajetes there once in a while. You can also get peppers, cilantro, tomatillos there for cheap if they have them. A comal: I would just buy a Lodge cast iron one from Crate and Barrel or Target.

                                        I've given up shopping locally for Mexican situations, but luckily I can rely on my mom to send me some Mexican ingredients once in a while.

                                        Good luck on your search and welcome to Boston!

                                        El Pelon
                                        2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135

                                        35 Stanhope St, Boston, MA 02116

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: lime_green

                                          I don't get your comparison. Good Chinese food is easy to find in the Boston area.... but you seem to be saying Mexican is not?

                                          1. re: Luther

                                            Oops, messy wording on my behalf. I'm simply saying good Mexican food is not easy to find in Boston just like I can't seem to find good Chinese food. Maybe I need to scour more places? There's nothing wrong with that.

                                            1. re: lime_green

                                              In all seriousness, if you read the semi-weekly thread of "where is the best Chinese food outside Chinatown" or "inside Chinatown" or "best non Sichuan" or "best dim sum" there is very heavy discussion here and you won't be short on options.

                                          2. re: lime_green

                                            Have you tried Tacos el Charro in JP? I've sent a few Mexican friends there and they loved it.

                                            1. re: lime_green

                                              I'm a little confused by this. There is extraordinarily good Chinese food in the Boston area. But it is true, that there are also many very poor Chinese restaurants.

                                              I think the situation is not entirely different with Mexican food. There are many terrible Mexican places in the Boston area, but also some excellent ones. El Pelon and Tacos Lupita are both terrific for fast, inexpensive Mexican food. Felipe's Taquería has a wonderful condiment bar and fresh ingredients. Tu y Yo and Angela's Cafe are both excellent restaurants for dinner. Cantina la Mexicana and Taqueria Mexico are also quite good. There are more authentic Mexican restaurants, especially in East Boston/Chelsea.

                                              Don't become discouraged if you don't happen upon great food by going to random restaurants. The great food is here --- the board helps to uncover it!

                                              El Pelon
                                              2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135

                                              Taqueria Mexico
                                              CLOSED, Brookline, MA

                                              1. re: lime_green

                                                Anna's is good sometimes (though all-veggie burritos are impossibly bland and there's no hot sauce) if you don't think of it as Mexican food. It's just... Anna's. It has that weird sticky doughy burrito-skin and charred chicken appeal all its own.

                                              2. Try Emiliano'z in West Medford on Boston Ave. Really good food. Run by a father and his family. The chef is the father/owner. Great Pozole on certain days. Non-greas and lots of love/care put into the food.

                                                1. Another vote for Tu y Yo (http://www.tuyyo2.com/somerville.htm) -- very friendly place, and many *real* Mexican dishes not seen in most so-called "Mexican" restaurants.

                                                  1. Another vote for Angela's Cafe in Eastie. Her mole, guac and fresh salsas are all great. There are lots of small neighborhood stores in Eastie selling all sorts of ingredients and equipment. For fresh ingredients, Market Basket in Chelsea has amazing variety.

                                                    1. I second Las Lupitas in Somerville, especially that torta al pastor.
                                                      And for a shrimp taco, try Olecito in Inman Square. It's fast and good. Get two.

                                                      12 Springfield St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                      1. Big fan of Angela's, and also El Sarape in Weymouth.