Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in Rome

Tostada from a private Mexican dinner in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

One of the constant questions I get on my blog is, “Where is the best Mexican restaurant in…?” Most of my readers are hankering for Tex-Mex or Chipotle, so I follow the trend of Tex-Mex for my readers. When I lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, there was only one Mexican restaurant and avocados were not easy to find. I recall once going to that restaurant with my restaurant group, only to find that they had no avocados. That night was epic in many ways as due to road works and Dhaka traffic, it took 90 minutes to travel one mile. So to arrive hungry at 9 p.m. to find that the place had no guacamole, was a let down. We ended up setting up our private Mexican restaurant at a different restaurant. In Dhaka, I also recall buying avocados for party and paying $50 for them, only to find that they were rock hard and no amount of time in a paper bag with bananas, or even boiling, made them edible. When I live in Bogota, I went to the Mexican restaurants as they opened up, and in Lima, I also followed the trend.

Carnitas taco from El Mexicano in Lima, Peru.

To get ahead of the question for Rome, I have googled the question. I have a friend who has great faith in the collective opinions of Google reviewers, on the assumption that if 300 people have reviewed a restaurant, then their collective rating is probably reliable. So here are the top ten (okay, eleven) Mexican restaurants in Rome.

Amigos Mexican Grill, 5 stars

Sabor Latino, 5 stars 

Il Calavera Fiesta, 4.8 stars

Mr Tabu Tacos e Burritos, 4.8 stars

Coney Island Street Food Roma, 4.8 stars

Casa Sanchez, 4.7 stars

El Jalapeno, 4.7 stars

Quiero Tacos, 4.6 stars

Pico’s Taqueria, 4.5 stars

Gustamundo, 4.5 stars

Maybu – Margaritas y Burritos, 4.5 stars

Fish taco from Jeronimo restaurant in Lima, Peru.

When I’m in Rome, I’ll check some of these places out… maybe. I will have lots of other things to try, so maybe not.

Take-out tacos, including fish, Korean barbecue, and carnitas, in the USA.

The Next Big Food Trend in Lima

Last year, I predicted that poke would be the new food trend in Lima. This year, I’ve seen the rise of food halls, burrito/tacos, shawarma, gluten free, and artisanal EVERYTHING.
Food halls: with the advent of Mercado 28, a food court with 10 or so restaurants and bars, is all the rage. It is a food hall, a concept that started trending a few years back in Europe.
Burritos/tacos: With the return of Taco Bell, the arrival is complete. It seems everything is in a flat bread these days.
Shawarma: shaved meat in a flat bread. Sort of a burrito on a upright rotisserie.
Gluten free: Yes. Also, keto, and other types of diets.
Artisanal (most of the artisanal bread is the antithesis of gluten-free): What goes around, comes around. In the old days, this was called home-made or hand-made. Now it’s artsy.
But, I’m predicting the new trend will be gourmet food for your dog. You read it here first! Event cookies that you can share with your dog! More and more restaurants are advertising pet friendly, but I’m predicting they will soon have dog menus too!

Mex Tex-Mex Rex in Lima

c-_48JtHj6YPF4O0yyJB8VCgeDCscvwItQ-lj1ynpFeSfd3mG-ViE08sMrsrS06uHfhuWguglBz9dLSuPaMDff3i3HFtIpDj6yeY4fu8tXU5aU-LtiRD43mHa8geBMNn8_25nN3n9TsTeeSohLe3aSp3d7BRn38rTqKBJi6lClsPoP-Ln3RQhL37jaB2MSw_VRvdWXl23KgnmJRjDgaRUZNnGoZtcQaIn the eight years that I’ve been writing this blog, one of the prevailing questions I receive is, “Where is the best Mexican/burrito/taco place in town?” To quote the Princess Bride, I will not get involved in a land war in Asia by discussing the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex and will leave that for others to parry. Instead, unless you can go to Mexico, let’s sally forth to my roundup of “Mexican” in Lima.

Los Meros Meros, Tacos Mexicanos, Jirón Peña Rivera # 179-A, Surco: This place feels like a hole-in-the-wall because it sort of is. The male owner speaks with a Mexican accent so for those who take this as an indicator of authenticity, there’s that. The photo montage at the top is from here.

Frida, Calle Gral Mendiburu 793, Miraflores: Elegant and large, this is a proper sit down place over in the west end of Miraflores near La Mar. People love the Baja California shrimp taco.

_tyvONoQw0wvwscb0jyzWmRNVife1rOI-Tyx5-HrA61IIFEB-vPt_IYGmKNIjHqxXcS-4Grv-bu3K_46XjP_9m6azQR7WXCpbmb8DxaDBQHJjdWxG_eTbVqY8GnukYzaJgriL13c4HHXjKLbo45FvL7dUYFxQyWc_erHc5s07Yt-rIs73A9QEGZQJDaG3rl9FfOzxo1zXxH92jxjMfr-UeZJp_WIy5FEl Mexicano, Calle Manuel Bonilla 248, Miraflores: Located down an off-street from Parque Kennedy (with a new location about to open on Benavides out in Surco), this restaurant is well geared to tourists with its English speaking waitstaff and all you can eat and drink options (on the menu, they ask you not to go out and throw up…)

The Burrito Bar, Av. Almte. Miguel Grau 113, Barranco: It’s in Barranco and quite popular with those who miss burritos from the U.S.

Chinga Tu Taco, Av. Mariscal La Mar 1300, Miraflores (plus other locations): A casual offering from the owner of Frida.

JV3KmSdFLZ6uBvV54XWE6wN7n-bJ9rwhaORzpAQJnJCaib35j1hUV29jzLS7DrduKZqQ0pTauYtURlMow9PRx_QKWEyYoFrlR2Ctug1ATxC1c1PPxm_h6kvuSsQM2UOZGYnqSs0kpqFTy_IBDPgl9Tsiw_Tt-o5p8YfFTbvhyginpvBHWvD3D2q_F-QsOoOihVq8otyeZbg4CmYTmTjx5yV5x_rH9WlAnd for those who miss Chipotle… you could always try Picogallo. I’m told it’s the closest to Chipotle that you will find here.

But, frankly, these days, most places in Lima seem to offer tacos, nachos, burritos, or wraps. But probably not what you miss from your hometown.

Just a thought: As this week is Easter Week or “Semana Santa” (holy week) in Peru, we’ll see what is open…

Mexican Restaurants in Bogota

12764708_10153898588294618_3516109912738225722_oThere’s TexMex, or what I call Texican, and then there’s Mexican. Gringos/Americans are obsessed with TexMex. It’s not my favorite cuisine. But, I keep getting asked about it. So here are the places that I’ve heard about in Bogota.

Agave Azul: I haven’t been there yet but I hear it’s good.

Cantina y Punto: It is a place to “be seen” and the food flavors are closer to American Mexican food. 12768151_10153898655204618_5254812555169888885_o

Museo de Tequila: Very touristy. Very burrito-land.

Gringo Cantina: Fancy drinks. More Mexican than Texican. Order the Morillo and the al pastor. This is where I’d go if I wanted to eat Mexican. Everyone will probably go to Agave Azul or Cantina y Punto.

El Techi (in Atlantis Mall): I haven’t been but I will go as I have heard that this is the best from a Mexican…

Taqueria: Again, haven’t been. Tell me what you think.

 

Gringo Cantina – Mexican Food in Bogota, Colombia

IMG_0115Mexican food in Bogota? This is one of the most common questions I get. Americans (gringos) are obsessed with “Mexican food” and cry about how they miss Chipotle (an American fast food chain specializing in large burritos etc.).  Well, too bad. Or take yourself to Gringo Cantina on Calle 80, 12A-29 (behind the Atlantis mall — or go south on Carrera 11, turn right on Calle 80, and it will be on your left.) The facade is painted in pale pink and blue with large letters that declare: NO MAMES.

12697005_10153882395389618_2852105833918525714_oThis Mexican cantina that has been open for a month now and it doesn’t suck (This is a reference for those who speak Mexican slang). The owner is an Californian with some Colombian roots. He started La Xarcuteria but has sold that concept and no longer has a connection to it. This cantina is his third concept in Bogota. Way to go, entrepreneur!

IMG_0113The owner, Mike, came over to talk to us. His tacos, both corn and flour, are made in house. He is excited to be in Bogota for the start of its culinary revolution (and education). His dishes are small, refined, and fresh. The best dishes are the taco al pastor, the tongue taco (get over it, it’s delicious! Look up, as it is the first one shown in this posting) which he serves so it looks nothing like a tongue for the queasy. Make his day and ask for the taco al pastor without the pineapple (it is too sweet and overpowers the meat).

IMG_0117The sauces are interesting with one made from eggplant/aubergine. The warm tacos are served on warm Colombian pottery which helps keep the freshness. The cold smoked scallop dish was subtle and fresh for those who do not like tacos (and those that do). I would not order the shrimp salad again and the owner admits that this dish is only there to cater to local tastes. I liked the quesadillas with their crunchy fried exteriors and greasy, cheesy, and REAL steak inside (no ground beef, no shredded beef). I enjoyed when Mike and I commiserated about the difference between hard and crunchy as I told him that I like his chicharone/pork rind tostada (an open tortilla that is toasted). Ah, the thrills of foodie geeks!

12322775_10153882397639618_3827255297755253606_oDishes came out at a heady speed and Mike left us to eat before coming back for a chat about flavor, sous vide, freshness, seafood, and where to eat in Bogota (so I have a few more to try!). He also kept sending out free dishes for us to try (full disclosure — although this didn’t influence my opinions — it just let me try even more of the menu).

IMG_0118This is a new place so let’s hope it does well. And, yes, he does make a chipotle sauce.

12694644_10153882386614618_6500633435312192372_oAlso: I apologize for the blurriness (and awfulness — the one above  which I took quickly as I waited for tacos — to show where the restaurant is situated) of some of the photos… it’s hard to aim and eat at the same time. But, I wanted to post this as soon as possible for the masses… all 37 of you, my readers…

A Food Adventure in DC – Oaxaca Off the Map

“Are you up for a food adventure?” YES!

The most photogenic dish - a tostada with chicken.
The most photogenic dish – a tostada with chicken.

While there are thousands of restaurants in Washington, DC, few of them truly transport you overseas with one bite of huitlacoche. Sitting around the card table at Taqueria Jugalita will make you feel like you are on an adventure. If you want to go too, here’s how:

1. “Atencion: Solamente Sabado y Domingo, 7 am A 7 pm”

2. Choose your teammates… exclude anyone who cannot handle sitting on a plastic chair in someone’s living room.

3. Cash only. BYOB if you want B. Otherwise, they sell soft drinks.

4.Go to 1445 Park Road, #211, Washington, DC 20010 (That block of Park Road is a tiny example of world fusion with Los Hermanos and a pho restaurant side by side). Ring on the doorbell, wait for the keys to be thrown down to you. Go up to apartment (do not take elevator as it may not work).

5. Try something “bizarre” like beef tongue taco, corn smut (“huitlacoche” – “wheat la coach eh” in my non-phonetic phonetic), or organ meat. Try the sauces on the table. The portion sizes are also “normal” so not as huge (for example, the quesadilla is about the size of a taco since it’s made from one home made corn tortilla — see photo below).

Two servings of quesadillas.
One pork skin quesadilla and one potato and pepper quesadilla.

6. Expect to pay $3.50 per taco (so $7 for a plate or around $14 for a meal). It’s not dirt cheap food and not as cheap as street food from a food truck.

7. Practice your Spanish. Enjoy.

This green "salsa" is spicy!
This green “salsa” is spicy!

Three Amigos ~ Mexican Food In Dhaka

Americans are obsessed with “Mexican food” of which there is a dearth of in Dhaka. But, as I have tried 100 restaurants in Dhaka, here are the three “Mexican” places (and my review rating of them):

Uno ~ El Toro, Gulshan 1 (3/13): Mexican. Must try: going on a night when they have avocados (!!!). This is the only real contender and yet…

Dos ~ Quesadilla, Road 11, Banani (3/13); The quesadilla was actually okay. Edible and not greasy. The “Mexican pizza” was a basic frozen pizza with some charred crumbled beef added plus a few loops of green pepper. The nachos were a plate of fried wonton skins covered in brown beans, cheese, and decorated with swirls of “mexican” sauce — a slightly sweet pink sauce. The garlic bread with melted cheese was so tasteless as to be useless.

Tres ~ Rush Tex Mex, Road 6, Banani (3/13): Burgers and fries. The advertised Mexican dishes were mysteriously not available… small place with two booths. Fries were okay.

As I mentioned in a FAQ, Panini has the best nachos I’ve had here.

Chips and salsa are so easy to serve in the U.S.
Chips and salsa are so easy to buy and serve in the U.S.

Like a lot of things in the expat life, if you want it, you gotta make it. So we started our own Mexican Monthly Club. Getting enough avocados is the hardest part of making Mexican food in Dhaka. Let us see how it goes. Buen provecho!