Mexican (and other) in Lowell
I have to take a group of French exchange students to lunch in Lowell, in the context of a tour on the city's history and immigrant groups.
I thought of ending with a lunch at a Cambodian or Laotian place, as a significant recent immigrant group -- either Simply Khmer or Phien's Kitchen -- based on recs from the board.
However, someone pointed out to me that France is full of Cambodian places, b/c of the French colonial connections to the area. They suggested looking for Mexican places, since that is something this is missing in Europe.
I did a quick search for Lowell, and only saw a quick mention that a place called Mr. Jalepeno is supposed to be good, but no recent reports with more detail. Can anyone provide a more detailed report? Or do you all have any suggestions for other good Mexican or other Central American regional places in Lowell?
Hi all, Thanks for the suggestions. Wanted to report that we ended up at Babylon, both because of its location (walking distance of the city center) and the group's preference. We had a good meal. The waitress there suggested that since we were a large group, we should order a few Babylon chickens and some hummus and baba ganoush. We did that -- the chickens are de-boned, the served over a stuffing of a seasoned rice with peas, maybe some fruit, and some nuts (all mixed into the rice). The chicken was very moist and nicely, mildly flavored. The baba ganoush was excellent -- very, very smooth.
I'll have to go back to try some of their other things. The chicken arrangement worked well for the group, but meant that I didn't get to see many of the menu items. So now I have to get back to Lowell both for some Cambodian food and to explore this menu more.
There's not much of a Mexican community in Lowell. I've never tried Mr. Jalepeno, Mambo Grill is OK but nothing special, and I definitely wouldn't hold it up as an example of authentic Mexican cuisine. I can't think of a good tacqueria type place around there. If you want to take a drive up to Lawrence you can find some good stuff. Tacos Lupita is delicious.
If you're into Indian, Udupi Bhavan on Middlesex St is a hidden gem that's the best Indian I've ever had anywhere. It's Southern/vegetarian style and stupidly good.
If you're looking for really recent immigrants, there's a great new Iraqi restaurant called Babylon on Merrimack St.
If you want some immigrant food that's been around longer, I have a soft spot for the Greek comfort food at Olympia on Market St. I'm getting hungry, it's unfortunate that every time I'm in the area I'm usually already being fed by my mother. I also wouldn't overlook the Cambodian food in Lowell because it's some of the best food you can find up there.
I see what you mean about bringing French students to a Cambodian place but I agree it is Lowell's best feature. I don;t recall Mexican being a strength in Lowell. It's not even called Senor Jalapeno. How about south Indian (Praya)? I don't recall Indian food being strong in France.
Lowell has always had a reasonably large Portuguese population (and some restaurants) and thus a number of Brazilians have settled there since. Churrasco in particular would be fairly different than French food and the French were some of the first international fans of Feijaoda (although most local Brazilian restaurants serve this only on Saturdays). Oasis Grill is one that has been there forever and is nothing fancy, but its not very near the train (2mi?). If train isn't your method of transportation, its also near one of my favorite Portuguese bakeries Lowell Portuguese Bakery. Beira Rio might be something worth checking out, was running some deals on all you can eat churrasco (rodizio), but still a hike from the T and its been through 4 different names and a few owners, so hard to comment on consistency if its still open! There are also Columbian, Dominican, and Salvadoran places, but not been a regular in the area for a while (I think its also possibly discussed more on the Northern New England board).