Mexican

298. El Camino – December 20, 2017 – Keego Harbor, MI

December2017ElCamino1 (2)December2017ElCamino3 (4)December2017ElCamino4 (3)Keego Harbor is represented on 100 Places in the D! The new-to-the-blog city is home to El Camino, a Mexican joint that opened earlier this year. And you know I was psyched to check it out because I ADORE Mexican food to the jillionth degree (the cheese, the spice, the vibrancy of flavor – ¡sí, sí, and sí!).

Walking into the restaurant for lunch on Wednesday, I was immediately taken with its whimsically eclectic decor. Where else do you see wicker lighting fixtures, red accent walls, gilded mirrors, mini cacti, and avocado chairs (yes, avocado chairs: lime-green seats studded with an image of a halved avocado) all comingling? I was even more thrilled, of course, to discover the deliciousness of the food and drink.

The Not Cho Mojito is a refreshing riff on a mojito: it’s less sweet, infused with tequila rather than rum, and steeped with cilantro instead of mint. That little guy goes down easy, as does the chips and salsa sampler, which was AMAZING. The fresh tortilla chips are thick, crispy, grease-saturated little triangles of heaven – especially when dipped into the pico de gallo, salsa verde, and charred tomato-pineapple salsa. I especially enjoyed the salsa verde with its zesty lime flavor – a pleasant surprise for me, as I’m generally not a big fan of the green sauce.

And the tacos: they were glorious flavor bombs, tender meat sprinkled with Cotija cheese and nestled in pillowy corn tortillas. I ordered the Carne Asada with grilled steak and the Al Pastor with shredded, slow-roasted pork and grilled pineapple. I appreciated how liberally filled they were and how fresh and flavorful they tasted. They were an apt reminder that Mexican food is LIFE – not that I needed a reminder of that, of course, but I’ll take it!

2807 Orchard Lake Rd.

Keego Harbor, MI 48320

www.elcamino.cool

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291. Tamaleria Nuevo Leon – November 11, 2017 – Detroit, MI

November2017Tamaleria1 (2)November2017Tamaleria2November2017Tamaleria3 (2)I’m so excited to bring you today’s post on Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, a tamale joint in Detroit!

This carryout restaurant is a cash-only establishment on Vernor Highway in Mexicantown. It’s a place I’ve referenced wanting to visit in a few of my recent posts, and this past weekend, I finally made it down there for some sweet, sweet tamale goodness.

You walk in and place your order at a counter. Tamales can be ordered by the dozen, half-dozen, and individually. The larger the order size for one variety of tamale that you order, the better the discount. For instance, I decided on a dozen tamales – one-half dozen pork with jalapeños and one-half dozen cheese with jalapeños – which cost me $14 before tax (as it’s $7 per each half-dozen variety of tamales). But if I had gotten all dozen tamales as pork, they would’ve only been $11. Since I wanted to try two different kinds, I was willing to pay a few extra dollars on this visit. And I still received a discount with the half-dozen orders versus ordering tamales individually, as single tamales are $1.50 each.

I LOVE Mexican food, so I was super excited to leave Tamaleria Nuevo Leon with two warm bundles of those little babies nestled in their corn husks. I finally sat down to lunch an hour-plus later, ravenous with hunger and anticipation.

My appetite was quickly sated, and I was not disappointed. Man, are these tamales melt-in-your-mouth delicious! If I had to pick a favorite, I would go with the pork ones with their meaty, spicy filling, but the cheese ones are certainly good, too. I ate eight tamales throughout the first day of getting them – not a difficult feat, as they are smaller than some tamales you will find in restaurants – more long and narrow.

If you love a good tamale, you’ve got to check out this place. Tamaleria Nuevo Leon is yet another Mexicantown gem!

2669 Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48216

 

286. Taqueria El Rey – October 14, 2017 – Detroit, MI

TaqueriaElReyOct2017-2 (3)TaqueriaElReyOct2017-3 (2)TaqueriaElReyOct2017-4 (3)TaqueriaElReyOct2017-1 (2)Hi, all! I am super excited to share today’s place with you because it is an absolute gem and I’m OBSESSED with it after eating there a few weeks ago: Taqueria El Rey in Detroit. From this Mexican restaurant, I ordered literally THE BEST tacos of my life – and very possibly the greatest meal of my life to date. They were THAT good.

I’ve visited and reported on some incredible Mexican restaurants for 100 Places in the D; El Patrón in Pontiac, Las Tortugas Taqueria in Shelby Township, and Taqueria Alma in Center Line immediately spring to mind as establishments whose wares still haunt my gastronomical dreams (in the best way possible). I have to say, though, that the carnitas tacos I had from Taqueria El Rey edged even the offerings from those fantastic establishments in the “Mind is BLOWN!” (or rather, “Taste buds are BLOWN”!) realm for me. They were ridiculously, life-affirmingly, all-is-right-with-the-world-level delicious.

Let me set the scene here before I elaborate on how insane these godly carnitas tacos were. Taqueria El Rey is on Vernor Highway in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Detroit. It’s a cash-only establishment (one that, take my word for it, is def worth withdrawing cash for) with a small dining area, a front counter with stools, and a grill near the front door where the magic is happening in real time.

The vibe inside was welcoming; I immediately felt a sense of easefulness. I felt like I had stepped into another realm far from home, one where cell phones didn’t exist and people ignored their to-do lists to relaxedly eat their lunches at counters while forming bonds with the benevolent strangers next to them.

I don’t know what exactly moved me to feel this way. Maybe it was the carefree ambiance afforded by the Latin music playing. Maybe it was that there were indeed people sitting at the front counter eating their lunches in a relaxed manner. Maybe it was the friendly young woman who took my order and told me her name was also Jackie and preceded to ask how I spelled the full version of my name (a common question when fellow Jackies meet; I am the “Jacqueline” brand of Jackie; she was Jacquelyn, if I’m remembering correctly). Whatever it was, the place emitted enough good feels in the short amount of time I waited for my carry-out order that I was like, hmm, maybe I should’ve just ordered the food for here. I’m digging this place. But when my order came, I decided, nah, I’ll wait until I get home. The practical side of me overrode the spontaneous side.

But when I got to my car and opened the carry-out box to peek in at my order of two carnitas tacos, all steaming pork and corn tortillas loaded with diced onions and cilantro and accompanied by lime wedges, radish chunks, salsa, and an intriguing green sauce, the spontaneous side roared back all like Are we insane??? We need to eat these ASAP, while they are fresh. So I did, right there in my car in the gravel parking lot abutting Taqueria El Rey. And my world was turned upside down, because they were the BEST.TACOS.EVER.

These tacos were so fresh and flavorful on their own, and then with the additions of the lime juice and the radishes and the hot salsa and the green sauce, which turned out to be an insanely good creamy jalapeño sauce, the ante was upped times a million. And all this for only $3.18 – $3.18!

I am in love with these tacos, hardcore. Like, introduce-them-to-the-family hardcore-in-love. In fact, as I exited Taqueria El Rey’s parking lot after gorging on both of them, I was like, when can I take my dad and brother here? They would love this place!

I can’t wait to make my next trip to Taqueria El Rey to eat these magical carnitas tacos drizzled in lime juice and salsa and dunked in that spicy jalapeño sauce again. I am actually hoping to make another trip down to Mexicantown this Saturday. Although here is the dilemma: my addiction to trying new places is calling me to check out another Mexicantown establishment; I’m pondering one that specializes in tamales. But hey, those two Taqueria El Rey tacos were only $3.18; certainly I could afford to visit both when those tacos cost less than the price of a latte, right?

4730 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.taqueria-elrey.com

267. Juan Miguel’s – August 12, 2017 – Clinton Township, MI

20170910_163706 (2)20170812_183531August 12 was a busy day for me, as I’d inadvertently overbooked my social calendar. The up side was that I got to hang out with two beloved friends and try three new places in one day, with visits to the Beverly Hills Grill and Michigan Beer Growler Co.  in the afternoon and Juan Miguel’s in Clinton Township in the evening.

Mexican food is one of the Universe’s greatest gifts to us earthlings, in my opinion. All that cheese and spice and flavor and YUMMM. So of course I was excited to check out Juan Miguel’s, crafter of many cheesy-spicy-flavorful Mexican goodies.

The restaurant’s menu is extensive, affordable, and contains all of the faves: tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, burritos, nachos, chile rellenos, fajitas, botanas . . . you get it. It also contains a few items that you won’t generally see being peddled at the conventional U.S. Mexican restaurant, such as menudo (beef tripe soup – a.k.a. soup make from stomach tissue – a.k.a. not the average patron’s thing but a traditional dish that many do enjoy) and nopalitos, described on the menu as “Tender pieces of cactus cooked with eggs, onions, green peppers, and our special spices.” I’ve never thought of cactus as being edible, AND I’m completely intrigued by this dish!

My palate wasn’t up for beef tripe or cactus during my visit to Juan Miguel’s – because it was up for cheesy beef enchiladas with Spanish rice and beans instead. Of course, my palate is always up for cheesy beef enchiladas with Spanish rice and beans because it is LIFE. And the beef enchiladas at Juan Miguel’s certainly hold up their end of the bargain with the whole cheesy-spicy-flavorful YUMMM-factor.

21342 Hall Rd.

Clinton Twp., MI 48038

www.juanmiguels.com

243. Jalapeños – April 19, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170419_192330 (2)20170419_192753 (2)20170419_195340 (2)Any night is a good night to get Mexican food, right?

At least, that’s my point of view. Mexican food is one of my dearest loves (all of that spicy, cheesy goodness . . . mmmmm). I’m actually slated to go and get some tonight at my fave pre-100-Places-in-the-D Mexican restaurant EVER, El Charro in Fraser (an East-side classic!).

Two weeks ago to the day, I was also out eating Mexican food – but at a new-to-me restaurant, Jalapeños in Pontiac. [NEW PLACE ALERT!!!]

One no-brainer marker of a good Mexican restaurant is, in my opinion, its chips. Free and tasty chips with endless refills are a must. Check mark in Jalapeños’ favor – its chips were awesome during my visit. They were fresh and crispy and salty, and I gorging on them like a starving woman while waiting for my friend whom I was meeting. (It’s not a visit to a Mexican restaurant if you don’t nearly completely fill up on chips before your entrée arrives, right?).

Another distinction of a great Mexican restaurant: generous portion sizes. No daintiness, please; that’s not what I came for. Jalapeños delivered on their portion sizes with my tamale dinner, which contained three good-sized tamales and rice and beans. Add to that the bright, cheerful restaurant interior and the most obvious marker of a solid Mexican restaurant, the overall tastiness, and you’ve got a high score from me for Jalapeños.

806 Baldwin Ave.

Pontiac, MI 48340

240. Taqueria Alma – April 6, 2017 – Center Line, MI

20170406_121736 (2)20170406_122059 (2)20170406_122131 (2)20170406_130033 (2)Hi, guys! Happy Friday! Today’s post features a most DELICIOUS Mexican carryout joint in a new-to-the-blog city. Center Line is being repped for the first time on 100 Places in the D!

Center Line is one of those local cities that developed a mystique for me over the years, because while I grew up quite close to it, it was never part of my narrative, and I had no idea what was located there. All I knew it from was the 696 exit signs that advertised it.

Thanks to my recent visit to Taqueria Alma, I’ve now been to and gained a bit of enlightenment around this Macomb County suburb. I now know that in Center Line you can get some of the BEST tacos and tamales – for an affordable price, to boot.

I hold such a fondness in my heart for Mexican food. What’s NOT to like about it? It goes H.A.M. on the flavor and spices and CHEESE. I am all about that life. So when I decided to pop into Taqueria Alma one rainy afternoon after a work volunteer event in Detroit and saw the whiteboards listing out all of the choices, I was like “YESSSS!”

What to get, what to get? I decided to go the à la carte route and ordered two steak tacos as well as two tamales (one containing chicken steeped in a green sauce and the other, pork in a red sauce), which in total only cost about seven dollars.

After a short wait, I was given a paper sack containing my order: four warm, incredible-smelling foil-wrapped bundles. I could’ve sat and eaten at a table inside Taqueria Alma’s tiny interior, but I decided to take my goodies home.

It ended up requiring much discipline to do the approximately half-hour drive back to my house without either attempting to a) drive and juggle a most-probably-hot-mess-to-eat-one-handed taco (though this option was contemplated several times at red lights) or b) pull over and devour my meal in a strip mall parking lot.

Finally I made it home without delving into those warm little packages of flavorful deliciousness and even had enough willpower in reserve to snap the above photo of my meal before gobbling it.

Was it as amazing as I had hoped? ABSOLUTELY. Those tacos! They were perfect in their simplicity: juicy, flavorful steak, diced onion, fresh cilantro, and soft corn tortillas – how does it get better than that? The tamales were excellent, too. I especially enjoyed the pork one with its meat marinated in a flavorful red sauce.

So thank you, Taqueria Alma, for lighting up a gloomy, rainy day for me with an incredibly tasty and affordable lunch! I most definitely plan to be back – which means another opportunity to learn what else is going down in Center Line.

25343 Van Dyke Ave.
Center Line, MI 48015

193. El Patrón – October 5, 2016 – Pontiac, MI

20161005_13231420161005_123513Pontiac represented on the blog! And what a representation! I had some of the best enchiladas OF MY LIFE at El Patrón for lunch today. A work friend treated me for my birthday. My birthday is tomorrow!!!! I’m taking the day off work and will be lunching and shopping in Midtown. Yes – DETROIT DAY!

I’m a huge birthday person, if you haven’t already inferred that. Who deep down doesn’t love a day to feel special? I think it’s lovely that we all have a birthday, and dammit, I’m a champion of all-out celebrating them. And partaking in the celebration of mine by gorging myself at a place with the most deliciously fried, caramelized shredded pork and a salsa bar proffering various sauces and pickled vegetables was glorious.

El Patrón is legit-legit, and I’ll definitely be adding it to my Mexican-restaurant rotation. The food is phenomenal, the prices are reasonable, and the no-frills, diner-like atmosphere (you order at a counter; you pick your own table; the food is delivered to you) is fun and friendly. Plus, the pops are served in glass bottles (as these varieties are sold in Mexico) – fun!

1188 Joslyn Ave.

Pontiac, MI 48340

183. Mex – August 2, 2016 – Bloomfield Hills, MI

20160802_19072120160802_19084620160802_193114Bloomfield Hills represented on the blog! What what!

Guys, Bloomfield Hills is only about 35 minutes from my house, but it admittedly feels like another world to me. I rarely go out that way, so when I do, I’m always like “Whaaattt? What is this land? What are all these weird roads I’ve never heard of and this hilliness?” I’m an East Sider – I don’t do hills! But OK, I can do hills if it means going to Mex again.

What a beautiful, trippy place to step into! Check out the second photo above, which was a view of the ceiling above where my friend and I sat. It’s a veritable art display! Mex’s website characterizes its style as Alice in Wonderland-inspired.

The restaurant was my friend’s suggestion; we were in the general area and went there for drinks and dinner. Instead of getting entrees, we ended up sharing an appetizer: the Everything Guac. Read the menu description of this bad boy: “fresh corn chips; MEX guacamole, bacon, pepitas, roasted garlic, grilled corn, queso blanco, grilled red onion.” YES! Bacon in guacamole? Absolutely! The smoky flavor of the bacon compliments it quite well, actually. It was glorious. And it was filling! For two people, a bowl of Everything Guac was sufficient. But I would love to come back and sample additional fare.

I’d characterize Mex’s menu as experimental gourmet Tex-Mex. There are specialty tacos with fillings such as marinated pork and pineapple, fried cod, and curried vegetables; a southwestern version of Sloppy Joe’s laced with barbecue sauce and pickled vegetables called Sloppy José Sliders; and a Mexican chocolate cake soaked in three different types of booze (Irish cream, rum, and coffee liquor). WOW to that last one! I NEED to try that.

6675 Telegraph Rd.

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301

www.mexbloomfield.com

174. Las Tortugas Taqueria – April 30, 2016 – Shelby Township, MI

20160430_16211820160430_164907Utica represented on 100 Places in the D! Or so I thought. On Saturday, in a fit of desperation, I went on Yelp to find a new place to visit. It was the last day of April, and I needed to hit my quota of going to at least one local place located within a new-to-the-blog city a month. I’d procrastinated on it all month. Plus, I was in a lazy-day Saturday mood and didn’t want to drive far. Las Tortugas Taqueria was the first result to pop up for nearby Utica restaurants. Because it had excellent ratings, because Utica has never been represented on the blog, and because Mexican food is very high up on my Favorite Things in Life list, I decided to give it a whirl.

It wasn’t until writing this post and looking at the Mexican restaurant/market’s website that I realized that Yelp had posted inaccurate address information. Drats! I thought that looked like Shelby Township! In Yelp’s defense, when I then Googled the street address, half the resulting entries also had Utica as the city of origin. The restaurant must be right on the cusp. Still, since the business website has the city listed as Shelby Township, that’s what I’m going with. I’ll have to hit two new cities this month to compensate.

Oh, well. Life is too short to worry about exactly where on the map such phenomenal Mexican food originates. Because let me tell you, Las Tortugas Taqueria’s food is excellent! So, so, so, so GOOD. OK, I was at a high level of hangriness when I took my first bite of the tamales I’d ordered. I’d put off lunch for wayyyy too long, so that it was practically dinnertime, so any food I’d put in my mouth at that point would’ve tasted pretty great by default. But even so, this is some exceptional Mexican food! It’s the real deal. And look at how much food they give you! Look at these two tamales in the photo above – they’re huge! All that food for only $7.99! Much love, Las Tortugas Taqueria, much love. I have to be grateful for the city mix-up – otherwise who knows when I would’ve found you!

Marked by a simple red-and-white exterior sign, Las Tortugas Taqueria stands out from its neighbors in the tired-looking strip mall in which it’s located in more areas than its awesome food and great prices. Its tiny interior houses both a restaurant and a market, with seating area on the left and grocery offerings on the left. It’s impressively clean and organized and has a great vibe. It’s obviously run by people who care, and I love that as much as I love those tamales!

46691 Van Dyke Ave.

Shelby Twp., MI

www.lastortugastaqueria.com

121. Trini and Carmen’s – May 30, 2015 – Waterford, MI

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Saturday night I braved the pouring rain to voyage from my east-side abode to a friend’s house in Clarkston. We’d decided to go to dinner, and I leapt at her suggestion of Mexican, because Mexican food is pretty much my favorite ethnic food in the world (how could I not adore it with all the cheese and glorious fried stuff it entails???). And I was glad to see that our stop was Trini and Carmen’s in Waterford, since I’d never been there before.

Three reasons to love this restaurant: 1) Its tortilla chips – a crucial component of the Mexican-cuisine dining experience, of course! – are delicious, all crispy and just the right amount of greasy – yum! 2) More importantly, the delicious-factor extends to the rest of its menu (I got the build-your-own combination plate where you can pick three items). This is legit, authentic Mexican food! 3) They serve an excellent Spanish coffee (my favorite drink that I always forget is my favorite drink until I see it on the menu and HAVE to have it). You pretty much can’t go wrong here.

1715 N. Telegraph Rd.

Waterford, MI 48328

http://triniandcarmens.com