Like tequila and Mexican food? We sure hope so.
by MC Slim JB
| March 11, 2011
Here at STUFF, we love Mexican cuisine and are praying for a day when Boston boasts a range of inexpensive places that go deep into lesser-known regions of Mexico. For instance, the amazing Angela's Café in Eastie does beautiful renditions of the rich, complex moles and tingas of Puebla. How great would it be to have a few ex-pat chefs focusing on the cuisine of Oaxaca, the Yucatán, Baja California? How about a barbacoa or al pastor specialist? We can dream. For now, Bostonians will have to settle for upscale Yanqui interpretations of Mexican food backed by dozens of tequilas. And when we say "settle for," we mean "get ready for seven or eight of them."
In the past few months, we've seen the openings of Zocalo Cocina Mexicana (relocated from Brighton to swank Back Bay digs on Stanhope Street), Papagayo (in the Fort Point spot formerly occupied by Persephone), Tico (celeb-chef Michael Schlow's new Back Bay venture in the old Cottonwood Café space), and Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar (a nightclubby, Gothic Mexico-looking space in the former Back Bay home of Papa Razzi). These will soon be followed by Mija Cantina & Tequila Bar (in the old Sam's Café at Cheers spot in Faneuil Hall), Temazcal Tequila Cantina (part of a cluster of big new restaurants coming to Liberty Wharf in the Seaport), and Jalapeños (in the former Allston home of Our House West).
The good news? At a minimum, these places should be fun after-work hangouts. Tico's food in the early going looks particularly good, even if Schlow is skipping all over Latin America and doing something decidedly more creative than traditional. And for tequila lovers like us, it's great to see more venues with a decent range of pure-agave bottlings and fewer confused stares when we request a sangrita back. The bad news? In a competitive market and less-than-booming economy, this flood of copycat concepts risks becoming 2011's answer to cupcakes, a swiftly overexposed flash in the pan. Here's hoping these venues can make their food, however gringo-ish, as compelling as their drinks and atmosphere.
If you missed Ruth Tobias's coverage of the trend, click here. For more on Latin food taking over the Hub, check out El Planeta's feature story here.