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Mexican Food Rant

Our Best (and Worst) Mexican Food Restaurants


Mexican Food Rant

If you've read our 'about us' page, you know that we grew up in the Northeast, lived in Europe for a bit, then moved to California (and are now back East). Suffice it to say that in our Mexican food education, moving to California was a revelation. All that stuff we'd been eating growing up that had seemed OK at the time, was no so obviously inferior to the REAL Mexican food. Why, oh why, is there just so many restaurants out there parading as Mexican food? And when people tell you one is going to be good, and trust us - it's really authentic - why is it so often just a mirage?

So for this week's food blog, let us enlighten you with our picks for the best - and the worst - of Mexican Food Restaurants we've had over the years. 

The Worst - Taco Treat, Great Falls, MT

At this point you're probably wondering why we were eating Mexican food in Great Falls, MT. That is, in fact, an excellent question. It's where Amy's mother's side of the family is from, and when you've lived in Montana you're whole life it can be really tough to recognize good Mexican food because you've probably never had it. Which is why you take visiting family members, such as Mike and Amy, to eat at the Taco Treat. The enchilada sauce was congealed to the point that it might have been best categorized as plasma. Just not good.

The Worst - La Paloma, Quincy, MA

This restaurant actually has a fairly good Zagat rating, which only goes to show that most Massachusetts locals don't know what Mexican food is supposed to taste like. We ordered a chile relleno, and it was a bell pepper. Stuffed with a pork chop. And served in marinara sauce. When you actually butcher both Mexican food and Italian food at the same time, it's really just unforgiveable.

The Best - Old Town Mexico Cafe, San Diego, CA

Suffice it to say that there is GREAT Mexican food in San Diego. Old Town Mexico Cafe is the Mexican food restaurant I wish you could find in every city. Tortillas are homemade and heavenly (you can see little old ladies making them by hand in the front window), it's not fancy or expensive, and everything is authentic and delicious. We've had the pleasure to eat here on several trips out west, and every dish and every time has been fantastic.

The Best - Yaxche, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

It's a no-brainer that they know good Mexican food in Mexico, but what we love about Yaxche is the interesting take on traditional Mayan dishes. Sure, you can get great tacos, tostadas or enchiladas at almost any local restaurant, but Yaxche offers a taste of the ancient and deep cultural roots of the Mayan Riviera. In the Blackened Stuffed Turkey, turkey is stuffed with ground beef and egg, and served with a burnt pepper sauce that's literally black. Strange and exotic, it's both delicious and interesting.

Blackened Stuffed Turkey OK, it looks weird - but it was tasty!

The Best - Tu Y Yo, Needham & Somerville, MA

So after complaining since we moved back to Massachusetts that there wasn't any good Mexican food around here, we've finally found a restaurant that we can enjoy, not too far from home! Tu y Yo isn't your average Mexican restaurant, they have a mix of "pre-Hispanic" dishes (a bit like the menu at Yaxche) plus more recognizable favorites. Dishes are flavorful, well-prepared and - yes, authentic. Our faves from our first visit there last night included the Cochinita Pibil, which is shredded pork tenderloin marinated in achiote, lemon, garlic and spices.

Cochinita Pibil - Tu Y Yo Making me hungry!


What's your favorite Mexican food restaurant or dish? Share with us at amyandmike@easyfoodandwine.com.

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