December 1, 2020 0
“You can’t get good Mexican food anywhere north of Texas.”
So averred my good buddy Tony when I suggested a Mexican meal on his recent visit. Now, I’m a good deal north of Texas, being in the Heart of Massachusetts, but that’s the kind of challenge that I can’t pass up. Three hours later, he was rubbing his stuffed belly as we left Tortilla Sam’s, voted Worchester’s Best Mexican Restaurant for the third year in a row. Being voted Best Mexican Restaurant in a little northeastern city may not seem like much – till you stand in front of the window at Tortilla Sam’s and watch the tortillas – freshly mixed and cut by hand – roll through the steam press and catch a whiff of the mole. Then you realize that this is real Mexican food. And if the Mexican food in Worcester is good enough to impress Texas-born-and-raised Tony, we’ve got to figure that there are great Mexican restaurants in other unexpected places, right?
I went looking for the most out-of-the-way and unexpected places to find good Mexican food. My criteria and method were simple – and hardly foolproof. In order to make the list, the restaurant must serve primarily Mexican food, and must have been voted a Best Mexican Restaurant in a local newspaper poll. There must be some mention in the review of authenticity. If there was a comment from someone who really KNOWS Mexican food, that gets bonus points. The list is a long way from exhaustive, but if you’re looking for good Mexican food a long way from home, you just might get your craving satisfied at one of these unlikely places to find authentic Mexican food.
Me, I’d go looking for a good mess of pinto beans and Southern barbecue in beautiful Charlotte, but if I did have a craving for Mexican food, I’d head on over to Taqueria Las Delicias. It only took the #8 spot on AOL’s CityGuide City’s Best awards, but any place that serves its tamales wrapped in corn husk AND offers lesser known Mexican foods like pupusas and taquitos is going to get a visit from me when I hit Charlotte.
The home of baked beans and clam chowder (white, thank you very much) is also the home to Andale!, a tiny restaurant that seats 8 at the counter. Forget the ground, slightly spiced meat mush that passes for Mexican food in most of Massachusetts, and build yourself a quesadilla from chunks of roast chicken and spiced vegetables. It’s fast Mexican food at its best, even if it is in Boston.
Next time I’m in Philly, I’m skipping the cheese steak and heading out for Mexican food. Voted Best Mexican food in the Philly area, Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken has all the standard gringo-Mex foods on the menu, but it also has… caramel crepes and homemade sangria.
Can I get a café latte to go with the chilies relleno? El Puerco Lloron in Seattle has been serving up its handmade tortillas and fresh salsa for over two decades and they’re still making the Best Of lists. If there is real Mexican food in the gateway to Alaska, chances are that you’ll find it here.
The folks at the Baltimore Citypaper appreciate the irony of naming a Best Mexican Restaurant in Baltimore. To paraphrase, it’s like naming the best air conditioner salesman in Antarctica. Still, they dub the Mexican food at Los Amigos Mexican restaurant ‘good’ and the wait staff friendly. Not quite a ringing endorsement, but if I get sick of crab cakes in Baltimore, I know where I’ll go.