Mexican Food Top Picks!

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Warped-5
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 14:56:58 (permalink)
Here's a basic formula for identifying a quality Mexican dining experience when you're not really sure:

Do the residents of the neighborhood eat there? If yes, it's a good place!

My wife and I have been using this simple formula all over the Chicago area for years and it NEVER fails...
#31
1bbqboy
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 16:02:11 (permalink)
I've been trying to order outside the standard "combo, rice and beans" fare. I've made it a point to try the soups at each place we go, and to order ala carte so we can sample more things.
Love chile verde, but Mexican seafood-crab enchiladas, shrimp
in cream sauce, fish tacos; well the pairing of fish and peppers is a good one indeed. One thing I miss in Oregon that we used to see in Arizona is Green corn Tamales. Loved those puppies. A delicate subtle taste that isn't there when made with regular cornmeal.
#32
zataar
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 16:51:29 (permalink)
I am really enjoying this thread. Mexican seafood soup can be really good. I tried one recently that was Caldo Camarone, with shrimp, lime and a very spicy pico de gallo type salsa on the top. Have any of you had huitlacoche? It's corn fungus, or corn smut as it's sometimes called. Pretty ugly, but a very complex flavor. It's hard to find on menus here in the midwest, but I've seen it in the southwest.
#33
cedwin
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 17:20:42 (permalink)
zataar, I also really like a good Mexican seafood soup and the best are relatively simple in ingredients, like the one you described. I've also had huitlacoche, but only in Mexico, stuffed in tamales. The flavor was not "mushroomy" but not unpleasant. I've never seen it available in any of the Mexican markets here.
#34
1bbqboy
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 17:32:20 (permalink)
http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/newsrelease/2003/061203/04plains.htm
Zataar,
Tom Isern describes "Santa Fe Railroad Mexican Cooking" . I think that fits KC's description when I was growing up.Deep fried Tacos are still what I long for, and they need to have peas. It sounds like KC'S Latino base has expanded beyond what was traditional in past times.
Bill
#35
UncleVic
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 18:55:15 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by bill voss

http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/newsrelease/2003/061203/04plains.htm
Zataar,
Tom Isern describes "Santa Fe Railroad Mexican Cooking" . I think that fits KC's description when I was growing up.Deep fried Tacos are still what I long for, and they need to have peas. It sounds like KC'S Latino base has expanded beyond what was traditional in past times.
Bill



Thanks for refreshing my memory here! If your in Grand Rapids and want a decent deep fried taco, there's a nasty looking hole in the wall restraunt called Chicos on South Division Street... Most awesome tasting fried tacos there! I dont recall if they added peas, I just inhaled them!..
#36
zataar
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 22:14:18 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by cedwin

zataar, I also really like a good Mexican seafood soup and the best are relatively simple in ingredients, like the one you described. I've also had huitlacoche, but only in Mexico, stuffed in tamales. The flavor was not "mushroomy" but not unpleasant. I've never seen it available in any of the Mexican markets here.
I agree that the more simple the ingredients in a caldo, the better. The fresher the better, of course.
Huitlacoche is available here frozen or canned. Both are surprisingly good. If you don't show it to someone or describe it, they usuallly like it alot. Tell them what it is and they tend to run....
#37
zataar
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 22:21:28 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by bill voss

http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/newsrelease/2003/061203/04plains.htm
Zataar,
Tom Isern describes "Santa Fe Railroad Mexican Cooking" . I think that fits KC's description when I was growing up.Deep fried Tacos are still what I long for, and they need to have peas. It sounds like KC'S Latino base has expanded beyond what was traditional in past times.
Bill

It's true that the hispanic culinary world has greatly expanded from what it was when we were young. I really enjoyed the Tom Isern link. Some of that food is long gone from the KC area. I miss deep fried tacos! Tarahumaran and Michoacan food is starting to be very popular here with some of us. In the mean time, chains like Mi Cocina are raking in the dough....
#38
Rex Allen
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 22:36:37 (permalink)
Bushie,
I believe it is called "Senior Diegos", Been there forever, and is still very good and as a good sign is patronized heavily by the Latino Population. Rex
#39
Bushie
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/04 23:25:49 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Rex Allen

Bushie,
I believe it is called "Senior Diegos", Been there forever, and is still very good and as a good sign is patronized heavily by the Latino Population. Rex


Thanks, Rex! I was just curious. The other thing that I loved there was the "pickle mix" of jalapenos, carrots, and onions. Low on vinegar, and I just LOVED the stuff.

#40
1bbqboy
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/05 11:45:33 (permalink)
Bushie, I get that side at my favorite place in the Rogue Valley, Muchas Gracias--24hr drive thru & 24 hr breakfast Burritos. It's free as a sort of condiment; served up in a french fry paper boat..Ours has a whole bunch of Cilantro in the mix too. Don't know whether it's a west coast thing, but I didn't grow up with it.
Great stuff.
#41
Bushie
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/05 19:25:10 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by bill voss

Bushie, I get that side at my favorite place in the Rogue Valley, Muchas Gracias--24hr drive thru & 24 hr breakfast Burritos. It's free as a sort of condiment; served up in a french fry paper boat..Ours has a whole bunch of Cilantro in the mix too. Don't know whether it's a west coast thing, but I didn't grow up with it.
Great stuff.

Bill, I think it IS a west coast thing. Can't remember ever getting it anywhere else. The uniqueness is the absence of a strong vinegar flavor and the crispness of the veggies.

It was also served as a free "condiment" at Diego's, but I would always pay them for a container to take back with me to the hotel. Better than popcorn.

I tried a bunch of places like this in southern CA, but I only found one in Riverside that I thought was comparable. (Can't remember the name of that place, either. Looking back, I should have taken notes.)
#42
olphart
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/21 18:45:30 (permalink)
Bushie, we went to a place in Georgetown on 29 at or near Austin St (I think) that I thought was pretty fair. If memory serves me it was in what used to be a drive-in restaurant at one time. Do you know the place?

I saw you mention Nuevo Leon before. Can I assume that is the same chain as the one in Bastrop? There is also an Amaya’s in Bastrop that I have grown fond of. Seems like I saw mention of them in Austin as well. I love the tacos at Amaya’s.

I am still learning my way around the eateries of Bastrop. Love to find a good seafood and pizza place there.
#43
EdSails
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/22 12:33:10 (permalink)
Had an unusual tamale last week---an epazote tamale. Seems epazote is an herb and essentially it was a corn tamale with that seasoning. Unusual but tasty!
#44
cedwin
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/22 13:49:34 (permalink)
EdSails

Epazote is commonly used in many frijole dishes in Mexico, and supposedly it has a reputation for reducing gas. I think it's a great all around herb for Mexican cooking
#45
Wholebelly
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/22 14:00:49 (permalink)
We actually have some pretty good Mexican here in Connecticut.

1) Fish Tacos and Shredded Beef Tacos from Bajs's in Orange. Excellent Baja California style mexican.

2) Shredded Beef Enchiladas and Black Bean Soup from Sloppy Jose's in Milford. They've been around forever and I never tire of the food or waitstaff.
#46
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/22 14:25:40 (permalink)


Uncle Vic - the burrito from my favorite place, The Spanish Village
#47
wingandaprayer
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/24 15:15:37 (permalink)
It has occurred to me that this topic could be narrowed to what style of Mexican food is your top pick. In Arizona, we get primarily Sonoran style Mexican food. Sonora is the Mexican state directly south of us and is the principal beef producing state in Mexico. Do not go there if you are a vegiterian. Most of the seasoning is done with the Poblano and Jalapino chiles. The tortillas of choice are Tortillas de Harina or flour tortillas as opposed to Tortillas de Maiz or corn tortills which are more popular farther south. Most of the best Sonoran style food involves wrapping meat in a huge flour tortilla. There are endless choices of ways to prepare the meat; carne asada, carne seca, birria (my favorite), chile verde, chile colorado etc. Most Sonoran style food is mildly spicy, at least to my taste. New Mexican style is a whole nuther story. The chile capital of the world is Hatch,NM and they grow some fire.
My favorites in Tucson are:
Mi Nidito on S. 4th Ave.- Birria (second only to my wife's)
Michas also on S. 4th- Machacca
Tania's on Grande- Pozole Colorado
Sanchez' on Craycroft- Chile Colorado

In Silver City NM:
Nancy's Silver Cafe- Chiles Rellanos

In Magdalena, Son Mex (on the way to San Carlos):
Taqueria Tres Diamontes- Tacos de Carne Asada

I have never had any good Mexican food in California, but remember that these are the people who convinced a nation that Taco Bell serves Mexican food.
#48
EdSails
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/24 16:14:35 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by wingandaprayer


I have never had any good Mexican food in California, but remember that these are the people who convinced a nation that Taco Bell serves Mexican food.



Not all of us in California eat at Taco Bell.

#49
UncleVic
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/11/26 01:21:16 (permalink)
LoneStar.. Your killing me.. Looks damn tasty!
#50
enginecapt
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/04 00:28:48 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by wingandaprayer


I have never had any good Mexican food in California, but remember that these are the people who convinced a nation that Taco Bell serves Mexican food.


At first I was going to good naturedly jump on you for this, but then I saw that you're in Arizona, and now I understand it's the effect of the relentless sun that has so cross-wired your taste receptacles.
Then again, there's that California/Arizona rivalry......
BTW, don't forget, it's the Nation who fell for that line of BS from us.....
#51
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/04 05:50:55 (permalink)
Casa Carlos in Marysville, California, is the Holy Grail of northern-style Mexican food as far as I'm concerned. I grew up on that stuff. The place has been open for more than 40 years, and at the same location for about 30 (but has expanded to about four times the size it was when it originally moved there). I especially like the chili colorado (either by itself or in burritos).

I left Marysville in 1988 and have moved a lot since then, but if I go to a northern-style Mexican restaurant and they don't make their beans, rice, chili colorado or tortilla chips like Casa Carlos does, I don't eat there.

I specify northern-style because there's a lot of different regional cuisines from Mexico, to say nothing of Tex-Mex (which I will eat, but don't think of as Mexican).
#52
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/04 05:53:33 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Lone Star



Uncle Vic - the burrito from my favorite place, The Spanish Village


ACK! Lunza's Rule No. 1 of Mexican food: If it's covered with yellow cheese, it ain't authentic. There is no yellow Mexican cheese.
#53
1bbqboy
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/04 10:34:56 (permalink)
20 years ago I might have agreed with you, Lunza. Nowadays I think Mexican-Americans are assimilating into whatever geographic region of the US they've moved to or were born in and they use ingredients available locally.(Tex-Mex in Lone Star's case) I like the synthesis of cultures when having a dish more than the supposed authenticity of having "true & real" ethnic cuisine.
The Latino folks that live around here (southern Oregon) eat at the burger stand and the Thai Buffet and the BBQ right alongside everyone else. Those are the influences they know, not roasting a goat in a pit. They don't remember how their grandma fixed it in the old country, cuz , this is the only place they've known. It's fine with me, if they like Cheddar instead of Fresco. If I think it tastes good, I'll wolf it right down....
It's the beauty of America.
#54
Farfromhome
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/04 10:50:11 (permalink)
I miss Spanish Village That was one of my favorite places when we lived in Houston. And Lunza it may not be authentic Mexican with yellow cheese, but its authentic Tex Mex I'm a Tex Mex addict having grown up on the stuff and I had several favorites when we lived in Houston. Spanish Village is really good and its been around forever. Other places that I really liked were Fat Marias in Pasadena, Tia Chucho on Highway 6 over in the far northwest side of town in Copperfield was another real favorite. My favorites in those places were the standard combo plates with cheese enchiladas, tamales, chili con queso, tacos, chili rellanos and of course the rice and beans. Another good one I loved was Tortugas which was more "beach" type Tex Mex and my favorite dish there was the chicken campeche which was a grilled chicken breast with grilled shrimp, peppers and mushrooms covered with a baby chihuahua cheese and rice and charro beans on the side.

There is good mexican food in So Cal, just its different from Tex Mex. One of my favorites here in Santa Clarita is Don Cuco's. Their tortilla soup is excellent, as is their serape (sp?) which is a layered tortilla dish with chicken, green chilies and cheeses. Another good place we had Mexican food at was in Sunland and I can't remember the name of the place but I ordered the combo of tamale, beef enchilada and tostada with rice and beans and it was really good.
#55
enginecapt
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/04 20:43:39 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by bill voss It's fine with me, if they like Cheddar instead of Fresco. If I think it tastes good, I'll wolf it right down....
It's the beauty of America.


And the sharper the better. I was raised 70 miles north of the border, and autentico is good, but I like nothing better than a sharp chedder top hamper where applicable.
#56
UncleVic
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2004/12/08 05:40:55 (permalink)
Lone Star... It's 5:30am and that burrito is still looking good... My fav wont open till 11am... (I should take a picture to preserve the moment)...
#57
Richard Brooks Alba
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2005/01/06 16:00:38 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by wingandaprayer

It has occurred to me that this topic could be narrowed to what style of Mexican food is your top pick. In Arizona, we get primarily Sonoran style Mexican food. Sonora is the Mexican state directly south of us and is the principal beef producing state in Mexico. Do not go there if you are a vegiterian. Most of the seasoning is done with the Poblano and Jalapino chiles. The tortillas of choice are Tortillas de Harina or flour tortillas as opposed to Tortillas de Maiz or corn tortills which are more popular farther south. Most of the best Sonoran style food involves wrapping meat in a huge flour tortilla. There are endless choices of ways to prepare the meat; carne asada, carne seca, birria (my favorite), chile verde, chile colorado etc. Most Sonoran style food is mildly spicy, at least to my taste. New Mexican style is a whole nuther story. The chile capital of the world is Hatch,NM and they grow some fire.
My favorites in Tucson are:
Mi Nidito on S. 4th Ave.- Birria (second only to my wife's)
Michas also on S. 4th- Machacca
Tania's on Grande- Pozole Colorado
Sanchez' on Craycroft- Chile Colorado

In Silver City NM:
Nancy's Silver Cafe- Chiles Rellanos

In Magdalena, Son Mex (on the way to San Carlos):
Taqueria Tres Diamontes- Tacos de Carne Asada

I have never had any good Mexican food in California, but remember that these are the people who convinced a nation that Taco Bell serves Mexican food.



Before you go dissing California's wealth of Mexican cuisines, just remember that Sonoran cooking isn't exactly held in high regard in Mexico [well, except in the northern states of Sonora & Chihuahua, perhaps] - and is more to blame for the beef & flour tortilla-centric menu that Taco Bell offers than anyone or anything in California or Mexico. (Wherever ANYBODY thinks that Taco Bell now serves Mexican food, blame ignorant gringos that got fooled by PepsiCo.)

When I long for real Mexican food, away from the burrito-philes, there are few places north of the border that will do except for a select group of places right here in California. Places that offer more choices than just chicken or beef, that don't substitute cheddar or jack for queso fresco just because they're cheeses, that don't use mole [whatever type it is] as just another sauce, that don't even offer combination plates. Most of the time, though, when I'm really jonesing for a quick fix (which means I can't make it to a local mercado/tienda to pick up supplies), I'm perfectly happy with a stop at a fruit vendor on a local corner to grab some prickly pear chunks['tunas'] or whatever fruit is on hand, topped with a squeeze of lime juice and chile powder; if there's a "paletero" ['popsicle vendor'] handy, I'll get something refreshing and not too sweet, like a cucumber (w/ chile!) popsicle. My own test for checking prospective places out: they have to serve fresh "aguas" [fresh {non-carbonated} soft drinks] like tamarindo, jamaica, horchata, etc. - and they really need to have a specialty that doesn't involve beef or flour tortillas [dry or wet...], like pozole, or menudo, or birria, or cecina or mariscos or alambres or really anything that isn't part of a combo....

As for what Bill Voss said ("They don't remember how their grandma fixed it in the old country, cuz , this is the only place they've known"), this isn't an entirely clear assessment of the situation - while in some areas of the U.S. are communities of immigrants from the same region in the 'old country,' there are also cases of non-homogeneous immigrant communities that couldn't sustain any single version of a home cuisine, so that some sort of culinary pidgin is developed. (And since it's fairly clear from the postings at Roadfood that few people here are sticklers for authenticity in their "Mexican" food, these experiments in "cocina mezclada" ['mixed cuisine'] are still considered fairly tasty by the hoi polloi.) And THIS is comepletely separate from the fact that a majority of the immigrants are men - who, like many of their gringo brethren, don't cook anything that doesn't require a huge fire and lots of meat. (BTW - THEIR MOMS were far more likely to cook for them than their grandmas)

Even in a decent-sized burg like San Francisco, we had people arriving here from the Yucatan for a long time before there were enough Yucatecos here to sustain a restaurant that served the specialities of back home (like pollo pibil or pok chuc). And as good as the food is, people keep coming in an asking for burritos....
Buen provecho,
Richard
Berkeley/SF, CA
#58
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2005/01/06 16:31:10 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Warped-5

Here's a basic formula for identifying a quality Mexican dining experience when you're not really sure:

Do the residents of the neighborhood eat there? If yes, it's a good place!

My wife and I have been using this simple formula all over the Chicago area for years and it NEVER fails...

That is a good formula, and it works for Chinese too!
#59
Lone Star
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RE: Mexican Food Top Picks! 2005/01/06 16:44:34 (permalink)
Hi Richared, have not seen you post in a while!

Why is Sonoran cooking looked down upon by other areas?

There is a truck vendor near my neighborhood who has started selling pollo asada and roasted corn. What I love about the corn is it is seasoned with chile and lime, and I believe it has mayonnaise of some type and butter, but I am not sure. The vendors don't speak English and I don't speak Spanish well enough to find out. They roast the corn in this huge drum like roaster that resembles a minature cement mixer.
#60
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