By: Sharon Aron Baron
In our ongoing series Best of Coral Springs, we’re asking residents where they love to dine for great Mexican food.
It won’t be easy. In a city with over 125,000 people, there are so many great Mexican restaurants to choose from. With so many differing opinions as what makes great Mexican food, it will be hard to narrow down an ultimate winner.
As a native Texan, I grew up on Tex Mex cuisine served up in restaurants where very little English was spoken. Plates of chalupas, enchiladas or burritos were served up with mounds of refried beans and rice covered with gooey cheese. Meals were just one big Mexican food pie as every item became as one in the plate. When I was finished, I was rewarded with Mexican candy – a piece of delicious sugary praline.
Fajitas, which are so popular now were unheard of back in the 60s and 70s. They weren’t even served in restaurants until much later, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place today that doesn’t offer them on the menu.
It wasn’t until I went on a camping trip in Mexico that I had Mexican food – inside of Mexico. No, not the Americanized dishes served in the resorts I had been to in Acapulco and Cancun, these were delicious meat tacos which included handmade maize or corn tortillas.
“What’s in this dish?” I asked the waitress at a small restaurant in Bustamonte.
“Cabrito,” she said.
My friends laughed. Yes, I was eating goat. I didn’t realize that goat would be a specialty in Mexico. But there it was in all it’s tasty goodness, tasting almost like lamb.
It seems no one does Mexican food like they do in Texas, so when I do find a Mexican restaurant that serves up hot and gooey dishes like Papacita’s or Ninfa’s, I’m like Food Critic Anton Ego in the film Ratatouille who has a flashback into his childhood after taking a bite of of the French stewed vegetable dish.
I’m hoping I’ll soon get that feeling with some of these picks.
From Dan I. Cook
Who makes the Best Mexican food in Coral Springs? Editor of Coral Springs Talk Sharon Baron posed this question to me. My answer is not simple. To be clear, I’m not a fan of true Mexican food. Mole, tamales, pozole, blue-corn tortillas, elote, esquite, chiles en nogada, chicharrón en chile verde, tacos al pastor, alambre, gringa, atole, and champurrado are not on my favorite lists of food to eat. I bet half of y’all don’t know the food I even listed. That’s the dilemma here.
As an American, I love burritos, guacamole, margaritas, flour tortillas, Corona Light with a lime, tacos, Mexican Pizza, nachos, Monterey-Jack cheese, cheddar cheese etc… None of these foods are TRUE Mexican cuisine. I will go on the record and say my favorite Mexican Restaurant is La Bamba. I can say that because they will not be in the poll as none of their restaurants are in Coral Springs. A true Mexican would laugh at that statement. Trust me I get it, but I tell it the way it is. With that said, if you like Mexican food follow your palate and your heart. Now go vote! I can’t wait to see the results of this and Stay Hungry!
By: Stevette Ballog
What makes Mexican food good? In my opinion, there is no simple answer. A Chicagoan may say, “There’s no good pizza in Florida.” Some New Yorkers can argue, “You can’t find good Chinese food in Los Angeles” or a Texan may say steak outside of their home state is subpar.” I don’t believe that. I think that we are all used to different styles of each cuisine. Mexico is a large country full of different regions and each region will highlight different ingredients. You can’t fall into the trap of thinking that authentic means good. There’s more than one style of authentic Mexican food or any food, for that matter.
As a child growing up in Chicago suburbia, I experienced the heavy influx of Hispanic (mostly Mexican) immigrants in the 80’s and 90’s. While living in Cicero, I watched several of our hot dog stands get converted into taquerias. Places that once served Vienna beef hot dogs that ran through the garden on poppy seed buns, dunked Italian beef sandwiches smothered in spicy giardiniera and pizza puffs were now dressed in red, white and green-pumping out dozens of freshly made corn tortillas loaded with wonderfully spiced meats, onions, cilantro and lime, tortas, burritos and homemade tamales. The fruit punch dispensers were now filled with sweet horchata, tamarindo and Jamaica, cold Jarritos was sold in every flavor and the spits that once spun with mouth-watering gyros was now loaded with delicious al pastor.
Now that I call South Florida home, some of the local Mexican restaurants I frequent have Latin-inspired menus that draw their influence from Puerto Rican, Mexican-American, Cuban, Colombian and contemporary dishes. It isn’t the same as what I grew up eating, but that doesn’t mean that one style is better than the other. To me, good Mexican food starts with really fresh ingredients. When craving tacos (which happens quite frequently), I tend to lean toward the street taco style with a double layer corn tortilla, fresh chopped onions and cilantro and a nice squeeze of lime juice. That doesn’t mean that I won’t devour three or more hard-shell gringo-style tacos loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream. I am a sucker for al pastor, carne asada, roasted pork, elote, cojita cheese, and all things spicy, but I don’t discriminate.
No matter what style you are accustomed to, Mexican food is indisputably a main attraction that captivates diners from all around. I’m anxious to see who gets your vote for the best Mexican in town!