Day 16 of the 30 day ethnic food challenge coincides with my one thousand and second (1002nd) visit to Mexico in Waltham at Taqueria Mexico. A painting of our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by ever-blooming roses surveys the dark room. Sombreros, ponchos and Cacti complete the décor. As ever the cantina is loud and lively, people are waiting by the door for a table, the service is attentive and slow, the food is honest, colorful and tasty. The din in the place overpowers the music playing and weaves conversations in English and Spanish all around you. No one is in a rush. The familiar faces of the waitstaff are so welcoming and I notice they often shake hands with the patrons as they exit. Late in the evening the lights dim and the staff sings happy birthday to one of the cooks complete with cake n’candles. Everyone applauds.
Tortilla chips, salsa picante and pico de gallo land on the very loud Mexican cocktail themed table cloth. The warm crisp chips shatter in the spicy sauces perking with fresh jalapeños. Delciously different, Agua Fresca Tamarindo is the popular Mexican drink made from tamarind pods and piloncillo unrefined brown sugar that is refreshing and not cloying.
On this visit the Taqueria got my goat. Birria (pronounced bírria, with the accent on the first sylaah-ble) is a spicy goat stew originally from Jalisco. The purported aphrodisiac powers of birria are legendary transferring the randy nature of the billys to the lucky diner. Dried roasted peppers swirl in the savory broth and it all comes together with lots of chopped onion, cilantro and freshly squeezed limes. A stack of fresh corn tortillas which arrive in a little red tortilla cozy are used to dip into the broth wafting the aroma of the whole package which is stimulating and satiating at once.
Cerveza? Maybe a beer? Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery has been brewing bubbly crisp Tecate beer since 1890 which pairs perfectly with Birria. Now a subsidiary of Heineken it is a cold wet delivery system for alcohol made perfect quenching with a squirt of lime. Tecate sells 816,300,000 gallons annually many of them right here at Taqueria Mexico.
For a second course taking along time to disassemble the Mujara Frita Mexicana (Tilapia) is a favorite simple pleasure. The fish is fried plainly in lime juice, garlic and s&p plated with sliced limes, oranges and green salad. It is the fried chicken of the sea, much beloved south of the border.
Even if it isn’t your birthday, finish with very homemade Tres Leches Cake. Pastel tres leches,(three milk cake) is an airy sponge cake injected with 1)evaporated milk, 2)condensed milk, and 3)heavy cream. Tarted up with whipped cream and chocolate syrup it is capped with a cherry for the fiesta effect. As my party rolls away from the place the frivolity inside subsides, the good feeling of a fine repast buoys us and we look forward to visit #1003.
24 Charles St, Waltham, MA 02453