Tuesday, June 29, 2004

With my whole Mexican food obsession, it was a bit ironic that, just yesterday, I was asked, by a stranger, directions to the nearest Mexican restaurant. On my way into the market to get tomatillos and queso blanco, nonetheless. I, of course, gave her incredibly bad directions to the closest place I knew of: La Tortilla Feliz (though they are, as I explained to the person, Central and South American..not Mexican).

And..later that day, we were lucky enough to find the Rick Bayless book "The Mexican Kitchen" (thanks Mike! ;) at Half-Price book, so we picked that up and drooled over it all night. I'm starting to wonder when I'll finally reach the point where Genevieve will revolt. Pleading for Italian, Provencal, Mediterranean ..anything but Mexican.

So, with that in mind, here's what I should have told the person..if they a bit of time to kill and the urge to read this blog ;)

1) Taqueria Guadalajara (12926 Lorain Ave) - You've all heard me rave about this place's flavorful food and cheap-ass prices. But, I'll do it again. Granted, the veggies out there will be left a bit out in the cold, as their mushroom tacos are their only standout non-meat dish. But, for the carnivores among us, their Torta al Pastor and Chorizo tacos are not to be beat.

2) Luchita's (3456 W. 117th Street) - If Guadalajara is street Mexican fare (which it is), then Luchita's is authentic restaurant cuisine. Much more veggie friendly than them as well, they offer a wide variety of dishes, overflowing with moles, sauces and black beans. The prices are a bit on the high side (but not prohibitively so). In my opinion, they're Cleveland worst kept best secret, as this ..almost seedy looking (on the outside) joint fills up the ceiling on a Friday or Saturday night.

3) El Tango Taqueria (14224 Madison Ave) - Okay, so originally more of a Southwestern joint, El Tango's delicious ventures into Mexican and South American food have earned it a good place on this list.

4) Mi Pueblo Taqueria (12207 Lorain Ave) - Though, admittedly, not as good as the other Taqueria down the street, it's a great place to go after you've made yourself impossibly hungry wandering around their Mi Pueblo Mercado, next door.

Places I avoid, at most all costs:
1) Chipotle - oh, for so many reasons. One, my overall dislike for national chains, esp. McChains. The biggest reason (and I know some would disagree). Their food is just bland as hell. I've gone there a few times and each time, my burrito was overflowing with rice and ..not much else. Their extremely limited amount of choices in comparison to someplace like Que Tal? leave me a bit "blah", as do their spices..or lack thereof. Finally, can someone tell me one thing they have there which actually has chipotle in it? If so, can you name more than one? At least "The Lime" in San Diego served lime with just about everything.

2) Tie - Chi-Chi's / Don Pablo's - do I even have to merit this with reasons? If your idea of Mexican is taco salad, there's something wrong...

3) Any restaurant named something so stupid, you refuse to believe the owner actually speaks any Spanish (La Tortilla Feliz, excluded ;) or has the word Fiesta, in it.

4) lastly..Taco Bell..Though I don't think anyone believes this to be authentic Mexican food, the fact that they takes types of Mexican food and then *completely* change WTF it is and still call it the same thing infuriates me to no end.