Before I went to the United States, my only exposure to Mexican cuisine was a restaurant bar in the 1980s that was more known for its dark ambiance and refreshing but strong alcoholic drinks. I don’t recall trying the food then at Tia Maria’s. The only thing I remember was that it was so dark, it was like walking into a movie house.
In the US was Taco Bell which I still occasionally enjoy to this day.
As a San Francisco resident in the late 1980s, I would frequent a Mexican restaurant on Grand Avenue called Taqueria. I realized that the Mexican food I had been previously exposed to was not as authentic.
Taqueria’s burritos were gigantic with a variety of fillings. I I also learned that tacos need not be crunchy.
Taqueria also had Chicharones, which were like our local chicharon.
Visiting a Sunday Mexican market in Los Angeles, I was surprised to see street food like callos, calf’s brain, among other exotic meats.
In one of our family vacations at a resort in Mazatlan, Mexico, I discovered the delicious cuisine of authentic Mexican food. We would have it every day with fruit drinks laced with alcohol.
Even the Pollo Loco chain there was different. I have since fallen in love with Mexican food done the authentic way.
In Manila today, there’s a handful of Mexican restaurants. Most are good but not quite authentic.
La Chinesca of chef Bruce Ricketts is the one that brings me back to real Mexican food that I experienced in Mazatlan.
I love Ricketts’ creative mind. He makes taco wrappers fresh, as you order them.
Just last week, our “Foodprints” TV producer Jenny Celdran and writer Jen Maramba were invited to a Mexican restaurant, Lagrima, in Legazpi Village, Makati.
Lagrima had only a few tables and a cozy atmosphere. I scanned the menu and ordered what everyone else did—three tiny tacos with a variety of fillings. I guess the taco wraps were also freshly made.
For filling, I ordered Pollo Asado served with pickled cucumber, Carnitas or pork shoulder with pickled onions, and ground pork belly Chorizo. I also asked for Quesadilla.
On my first bite, my brain told me, “Order more, this is not enough.”
Every taco was delicious! The taco filling dripped all over but I didn’t care. It was so good.
The Quesadilla crust was sticky and cheesy, the crust crispy, and the whole thing was outstanding.
We also ordered an Avocado tostado. Servings were very filling. I should bring my loved ones to Lagrima next time.
Lagrima is at BSA Mansion, Benavides St., Legazpi Village, Makati; tel. 8085019, 0917-8954157
Japan food tours: Fukuoka, Oct. 6-11; Hokkaido, Oct. 20-25 and Dec. 4-9; Korea, Nov. 4-9