El Mexicano: best Tex-Mex on the island

There has been much buzz surrounding the island’s newest restaurant El Mexicano located on the BLVD at the SeaAquarium. The owner boasts authentic Mexican cuisine at an affordable price using only the freshest ingredients. None of that Tex-Mex inspired stuff. To sweeten the deal just a little bit more, for the time being, patrons can choose the three-course special for FLS 30,- a head. We chose the slightly less expensive route of the DushiDeals. With an open mind and empty stomach we headed out last evening for dinner.

The restaurant is located at the far end of the BLVD. We were pleasantly surprised by the colourful interior with its old-world details. Although the staff tried really hard, the restaurant is clearly still working out some kinks. The DushiDeals voucher caused some confusion, ordering drinks was more of a guessing game than anything else and the menu was very limited.

We ordered margaritas and mojitos once we learned that they served cocktails as well, which paired perfectly with the complementary bowl of homemade tortilla chips with tomato salsa. However, we were disappointed to learn that the staff couldn’t recommend any of the dishes, as they are not allowed to try the food. The only guidance they could offer was hearsay in favour of the Langostinos con ajos (garlic shrimp), Champiñones en mayonesa (mushrooms in cream sauce) and the Wrap con Salmón (salmon wrap). Bigger cracks in the service started showing when we were surprised by a power failure in the kitchen. We were offered a round of drinks on the house and we ordered some more appetizers to cope with the setback. The Albondigas (meatballs in a tomato sauce), the Aceitunas (olives) and other appetizers are served tapas-style, which was nice to share.

Once the power came back on, after what seemed like ages, we were served our mains. The Burrito Arabes is basically a shawarma wrap Mexican style, but the EL Mexicano Famous Ribs were tender for sure. The combination platter had the most potential with the chorizo, enchiladas, taco and burrito. We finished with the Torta de Chocolate (chocolate cake) and a scoop of Tapachula (cinnamon flavoured ice cream and blueberry sauce).

Although flavourful, all dishes lacked that mix of signature Mexican spices that give authentic Mexican food its depth. We were looking for that “oomph” and unfortunately only found it in the tortilla chips and the Tapachula. El Mexicano’s marketing strategy focuses on differentiating the restaurant from the Tex-Mex varieties out there. Which is a pity. If they would just embrace the Tex-Mex genre they would definitely be our top pick. The food is made fresh to order and the décor is nice. However, fresh ingredients does not an authentic restaurant make. For that authentic Mexican taste, we would suggest the owner to get us some of that “latino” touch.

Food: 7– although the food is fresh, we missed that “latino” touch

Ambiance/Location: 7– you can’t tell you’re smack in the middle of a construction site once you’re seated.

Service: 8– staff would need to taste the food to be able to recommend it, but their friendliness makes up for it.

Cocktails: 7- walk a couple of yards to the other end of the BLVD for some real drinks at Vegas 360 Curaçao