Jul 24, 2012

Five memorable Mexican restaurants

In recognition of National Tequila Day July 24, I decided it was time to get back on the blogging bandwagon and go back in time to relive some of my all-time favorite Mexican restaurants from my travels as a commoner.  Plus, I’ve been on a Mexican food kick lately anyway, so that only stirred my memory more for these places, which I may never get back to.  So, here are five of my favorite memories, in no particular order …

JoeT. Garcia’s, Fort Worth, Texas – This restaurant has been around since 1935 and has undergone several sprawling expansions since it opened with a modest seating capacity of 16 out of what appeared to me to be someone’s home.  What I remember most about Joe T.’s, in addition to the outstanding authentic cuisine, was the outdoor seating in a cabana-like setting, limited menu and out of the way location.  It goes to show that it really doesn’t matter what’s available to you, if the food is as good as Joe T. Garcia’s.  By the way, if I can still remember the fajitas from 10 years ago, you should probably give them a try if you ever stop here. 

MiTerra Café, San Antonio, Texas – Located in San Antonio’s Market Square (El Mercado) not far from the Riverwalk and the Alamo, Mi Terra is open 24 hours (you can get breakfast anytime), features strolling musicians and celebrates Christmas all year long.  But the fact that it’s high on atmosphere is not the only reason I place it on this list.  It also has a kick-ass bar that serves fine tasting margaritas (remember, it IS National Tequila Day).  I have fond memories of kicking back here for lunch and a couple of libations after a morning of moseying through the farmer’s market and various vendors’ stands.  It may have been the only time I ever had a margarita with breakfast.

Red Iguana, Salt Lake City, Utah – Is it wrong to consider the best Mexican food I ever had to be from a restaurant in Salt Lake City, located on West North Temple Street, no less?  I must not be alone, because since I ate here with an ex-wife in 2005, they’ve expanded into two more locations in the city (the original wasn’t in the most affluent neighborhood, but knowledgeable tourists were finding it anyway).  I ate here in the mid-afternoon, and there was a line out the door and a 45-minute wait.  Fortunately, the margaritas here are also the bomb!  One has to love finally sitting down to an excellent meal with a good tequila buzz on.  As for the food, get one of their famous mole dishes.  I got the mole negro and haven’t been able to find any other mole that compares to it since.  And the secret to how good their moles are is out now thanks to the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.”       

Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, East Glacier Park, Mont. – As unlikely as it may seem to find incredibly good Mexican food Salt Lake City, imagine my surprise when the Young Curmudgeon and I discovered Serrano’s just outside of Glacier National Park a few years ago.  Housed in the oldest original log building still standing in East Glacier (circa 1909), Serrano’s is one of only a few dining choices in town.  Fortunately, it’s an excellent choice.  The food is authentic Mexican and southwest and doesn’t disappoint.  When I ate here, I strayed from the usual and had the Huachinango ala Veracruzana – sautéed red snapper with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, green olives, chiles and capers – highly recommended!

Church Street Café, Albuquerque, N.M. – Speaking of old structures, it doesn’t get more authentic than the Church Street Café in Old Albuquerque.  The building has supposedly been around since around 1706 and on the outside it looks every bit of it.  I recall having a very traditional combination platter here for dinner, but the atmosphere of eating inside this historical treasure is what makes this restaurant stand out.  It’s a great place for a pit stop when exploring Old Town Albuquerque. 

I will get around to blogging about more recent adventures soon, including another Mexican restaurant in DeKalb, Ill., of all places. Stay tuned, and thanks for following.

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