by Kelly Page
Young Parisians and the cuisine curious are joining taco-deprived expats in exploring a new wave of Mexican cooking in Paris restaurants.
Being a native of Los Angeles, and with the city’s close proximity to Mexico, I’m spoiled by the real deal: chunked-avocado, jalapeño-laden guacamole served with hot, crispy, homemade tortilla chips. So you can imagine my trepidation in moving to Paris, where the first Mexican spot I saw had instructions posted on how to eat a burrito. Ay-yi-yi, we’re a long way from Mexico. Or are we?
Anahuacalli feels like the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Paris. It’s owned and operated by Mexicans, and with two other establishments in town, they seem to be on to something. I think you can judge a Mexican restaurant by its margarita, and its chips and guacamole, and Anahuacalli scores high marks on most fronts. There are a few different types of margaritas, including one called Marijuana, but I went with the classic on the rocks and wasn’t disappointed with the balance of sweet, tart and tequila. The chips are made by frying homemade tortillas, which are appropriately crisp, and just in need of more salt. There was a nice portion of guacamole containing chunky avocado, forming nice peaks in the bowl, but it was a bit bland. I felt like I had to go to my guacamole taste archives to complete the full picture, as the spices were lacking, but throw in some salt and one of the two provided salsas and you’re back in business.
The menu has some familiar faces, with enchiladas, tamales and a good sampler of five different tacos, but it also steps out of the Mexican mainstream with a rich and tasty turkey mole served over rice and mixiotes, a marinated leg of lamb with an ancho chili sauce.
Anahuacalli serves solid food to curb your Mexican cravings. Just be sure to pack your own spices or tell them to kick up the heat, which is something they’re not used to doing for the French palate.
Rice and Beans
Rice and Beans is vibrantly decorated with a colorful, graffitied front window, giving a sneak peak to the two lone but boisterous communal tables inside. Unfortunately, though, the fun stops there.
There’s a basic menu of tacos and burritos, and you might even be excited to see black beans (a difficult commodity to get in Paris) and rice accompany your order, but you can only look so long before disappointment sets in. The proper ingredients are there, but the taste is not. The meat is lacking in any substantial flavor, and asking the thick salsa to do all the work is a tall order.
Join your friends for a Negro Modela at this lively spot in the 2nd Arrondissement, but eat before you go.
Candelaria is my favorite spot in Paris for a good taco taste of home. Unfortunately it’s also the smallest, with one communal table and a few bar stools. Getting a seat isn’t always easy at peak hours, but drop in at a random time and grab a front-row seat at the bar to watch all the action in the tiny, single-file, two-person kitchen.
The tortillas in the…. Read more here: