What The Hell Are You Eating?

Mary’s Lucky Dollar October 22, 2008

Filed under: Breakfast,Mexican — whatthehellareyoueating @ 1:30 pm
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Mary’s Lucky Dollar: S. 10th and 22nd
 
Pull up to this dinky white house turned restaurant in the early morning and enjoy one of the best Mexican breakfast menus in town!! This place is beyond funky and as you enter all of the locals of the area look at you and wonder who the hell you are and why the hell you are there. As you head for the counter to order your food you check out the menu and say to yourself— what the hell, are these prices for real (they have actually raised their prices–they scratch out the price and pencil in a new price on the wall menu)?? Have a great meal for two for under 10 bucks!!!! As you are handing the cashier your money, you glance to the back of the room and you see 80 or 90 year olds peeling potatoes and watching a novella—oh, this is some good atmosphere.You settle into a booth or a folding table. The food arrives and WOW! I could make love to this chorizo, and the huevos rancheros are beautiful looking and truly outstanding. Being from the border, I am a hellava picky Mexican food critic and this place signifies ocho chili tepins! Lunch is not as tasty—therefore it does not recieve my 10 chili tepins. Atmosphere=10 tepins, Huevos Rancheros=10 tepins, Chorizo=10 tepins, Name of Restaurant =10 plus tepins!
Look for the dollar on the wall!

-Josh Conzemius

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Mariscos Chihuahua October 10, 2008

Filed under: Mexican,Seafood — whatthehellareyoueating @ 6:37 pm
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Cal finally dragged me to Mariscos Chihuahua. I’ve been putting my foot down about the place for a few months now and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the constant construction taking place at the 22nd street location which is closest to my house. I just felt that was a bad omen of some sort. But there must be other reasons I was reluctant to go. I’ve never heard anyone in the seven years that I’ve lived here mention it even in passing so that might be it as well.

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Chile con Sol July 18, 2008

Filed under: Mexican,tacos — whatthehellareyoueating @ 5:44 pm
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Chile Con Sol is located on sixth street just west of Campbell in what used to be a crappy sub shop next to a laundromat across from the U of A. Sort of an auspicious location for a decent restaurant, most places so close to campus cater to drunk students. While I’m sure Chile Con Sol does its fair share of business in that department it does so with a little more attention to detail.

It’s an awkwardly shaped building with a small dining area toward the rear of the restaurant. I went there for lunch the other day. Alone save my New Yorker. I decided to give three tacos their shot at making it to my best taco in town list. I went with a red chile, carne asada, and a shrimp. My very sweet waitress told me the shrimp tacos were the best with the enthusiasm of a Ron Paul supporter before they realized he was crazy.

The interior design and atmosphere of Chile Con Sol is relaxing and subdued. The walls are a really soft magenta that plays well with the tile floor. There was one television behind the bar playing ESPN on mute. It was the exact right amount of interference for a lonely lunch patron with an interesting article about how Haruki Murakami became Haruki Murakami.

The tacos were good. Not best in town good, but good enough to crave again. The shrimp wasn’t the best, mainly because it came with melted, gooey cheese all over it. I’m a fan of cheese in most contexts but not in a shrimp taco. The red chile con carne was soft and juicy like a little meat sponge. The carne asada was the winner here. It was salty and delicious with no rubbery fat pieces. My only real complaint was the amount of lettuce festooned about the tacos. Is that really necessary? Lettuce is almost always a distraction, especially on an otherwise decent taco.

I’m going to give Chile Con Carne a solid seven and a half gooey shrimps, with a possibility of an amended score should I try something besides tacos.

 

El Indio July 16, 2008

Filed under: Mexican,tacos — whatthehellareyoueating @ 3:51 pm
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Sean and I stopped by El Indio last Monday for lunch after seeing Hellboy at 9:30 in the morning.  After the novelty of the morning movie I had high hopes for El Indio.  It has all the hallmarks of a good Mexican restaurant, it was south of 22nd the decor said, “don’t look at me, you’re here for the food anyway,” and the honky ratio was low.  Unfortunately El Indio fell flat in nearly every other aspect.

I ordered three tacos, a carnitas, a carne asada, and a birria.  The birria was the only taco that tasted remotely like its name suggested.  The carnitas was an absolute travesty.  It laid in the taco like a dead mouse, gray and lifeless.  It was pukeworthy.  The carne asada was uninspired.  It was a bad cut of meat chopped and barely seasoned.  Decent carne asada should be the bare minimum one can expect from a Mexican restaurant.  Sean had a carne asada chimichanga that didn’t deliver.  It was all chimi and no changa.  Or vice versa, I couldn’t tell.

The service was virtually non existent, we had to grab our own menus, and our waitress checked on us only to drop off our check.  Oddly, the place was freaking packed, we took one of the only available booths.  What was calling these people to this restaurant?  Perhaps there’s something we missed, I did see a lot of people getting soups.  As it stands, I give El Indio 4 of the worst tacos I’ve ever eaten.

 

El Mezon Del Cobre July 3, 2008

Filed under: Mexican,Seafood — whatthehellareyoueating @ 9:05 pm
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El Mezon Del Cobre is one of the most overlooked Mexican restaurants in Tucson.  It’s obscure location, 2960 N. 1st Ave has kept it one of our cities best kept secrets.  El Mezon specializes in seafood which is ballsy here in the desert but not unheard of.  Cal and I checked in for dinner on a Wednesday and found the place mostly empty.  I have to admit to actually being enthused about the decor.   Stately tile and hardwood finishing throughout made it feel homey and comfortable.  On the outside, El Mezon kind of looks like a dump but they make up for it with interior moxie.

There were only a few tables full when we got there and it eventually thinned out.  I’m not sure why, the wait staff and the food were phenomenal.  Fernando set us up with a seat and told us a couple of things about his home in Aztlan, such as how little the girls wear on the beach, how many beaches are there and so on and so forth until I thought we might be asked to buy a timeshare.  He was really funny though and also the owner’s father.  I’d go back if the food were crappy just to talk to Fernando.  Luckily the food is far from fecal.

We started with camarones toritos which were shrimp stuffed guero chilies wrapped in bacon.  I seriously considering stuffing one down my pants, they were that good.  They came with a light, salty sauce not unlike the sauce you get with wontons or postickers at Chinese restaurants.   The bacon was crisped to the right degree and the shrimp inside the chilies was well cooked, though not seasoned.  I’m not sure they needed anything, maybe a light dust of chili powder, maybe.  It was also happy hour so our Negro Modelo’s were only two bucks a pop.  They were served in short, chilled glasses with lime wedges.  I usually just drink it straight out of the bottle like a hobo but those glasses were novel so I went with them.

For his main course, Cal ordered the tampequena which is thinly sliced flank steak topped with grilled onions.  It’s a popular dish that often comes out overdone and sloppy.  This one was a nicely cooked, medium.  The cheese enchilada that accompanied it was standard but in a rich flavorful red chile enchilada sauce.  It also came with a side of guacamole which was fresh and creamy, a perfect complement to the grilled steak and onions.  The only slight minus were the beans which were fare at best.

I ordered the shrimp tacos hoping to find a new entry into my Tucson taco hunt.  I didn’t but still enjoyed them a great deal.  The shrimp was tossed with some mild peppers and a light chili sauce.  They were not overcooked like the filling in so many shrimp tacos.  They were topped with shredded lettuce which added little more than roughage.  The only misstep were the tortillas.  They were over sized corn tortillas that lost their structural integrity about half way through.  Still the quality and preparation of the shrimp was enough to compensate for the flimsy tortilla delivery system.

El Mezon Del Cobre may not be the best Mexican restaurant in Tucson but it just might be the best seafood joint based solely on those shrimp.  I’m eagerly awaiting my next trip.  I give El Mezon Del Cobre 8.5 of the sexiest peppers ever wrapped up in bacon.  Incidentally, if all you Cal fans want to get a little slice of Cal’s childhood, check out his mom’s review of El Mezon Del Cobre here:  http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/07-30-98/chow.htm

 

El Sur

Filed under: Mexican,tacos — whatthehellareyoueating @ 1:29 pm
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I checked out El Sur at the behest of Cathy.  It’s at 22nd and Craycroft in a renovated house which lends it a certain charm.  I had driven by many times and been intrigued but never gave it a shot.  Cal and I met Cathy and Matt there and were also promptly joined by Colin who sat at a weird angle at the table and made me look into his fake eye while he gulped Dos Equis.  Cathy and Matt same sided and ordered the exact same thing, which in restaurant people watching terms is the “double whammy.”

Same siders  they’re into it.

I had heard so much hype from my fellow companions that I wasn’t sure if I was even going to like El Sur.  But it turns out that you can forgo Public Enemy’s sage advice and believe the hype on El Sur.  It’s got a wide range of dishes, from chicarron to cabeza, as well as your standbys.  I went a la carte on them ordering a carne asada burro, a cabeza taco, and a chicarron enchilada.  The carne asada was perfect, well seasoned and sans fatty pieces of grizzled up steak (Thanks a lot, Nico’s).  The  cabeza taco came topped with cabbage, so much so that it made the taco impossible to eat with my hand.  I had to eat it with a fork, nobody wants to eat tacos with a fork.  The chicarron was delicious (if you don’t know what chicharron is it’s fried pork skin) but didn’t really work in an enchilada.  Cal had some sort of carne asada platter that came with rice beans and extra tortillas.  He raved about it as he always does.  At first I thought Cal just liked everything he ate but I’m starting to suspect now that he just orders well.  He also demanded a cheese crisp as he is wont to do and was rewarded with a green chile and chicken combo that was neither soggy nor burnt though still somehow lacking real punch.  Cathy and Matt’s carnitas seemed more akin to chili verde.  I’m actually going to call El Sur out on this one and say they should change the name on the menu.  Carnitas should be roasted at some point, or the skin should be crisped in some way.  But I don’t want to disparage El Sur too much, the dish Cathy and Matt ordered was tasty, I just think it should’ve been called chile verde.  Cathy and Matt had also received an order of guacamole before Cal and I arrived.  It was rich and creamy, they avocados are supposed to be.  It was also just slopped on a plate the way guacamole should be.

I also have to mention the prices and the service.  El Sur is fucking cheap.  I didn’t see an entre over ten dollars and I think they may have capped out at 8.50 for shrimp fajitas.  Shrimp fajitas are easily running you double that anywhere else.  Though I can’t vouch for their size or deliciousness, based on what I ate, they gotta be pretty good.  I think it worth mentioning as well that Matt’s horchata came with free refills. The service was impeccable as well.  While we may have encoutered our best individual sever at Kingfisher, the best overall service we’ve ever received was at El Sur.  At one point Cathy dropped her fork and before it could even stop bounching around a server was at her side with a new one.

I was pretty impressed with El Sur, I’m going to give it 8 and a half dropped forks (forks dropped because food tastes so good).  As for our vegetarian friends, I’m afraid they may want to skip this one.  There’s plenty of other good Mexican restaurants with better meatless options.

Dorks on the ‘net:

“The food is great, especially anything with Chicken.” – Eric D.

“John’s good-sized chimi…” – Tucson Weekly

“I just prefer the thinner ones.” – Tucsontravlero