Mexican Street Food – The Good And The Not So Good

Prickly Pear Margarita and delicious guacamole

Prickly Pear Margarita and delicious guacamole

My friend and I were given gift certificates to Cantina, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Birmingham, so we decided to try it out this past weekend. I was super excited about the restaurant because they specialize in Mexican street food, which I love. However, I was a little disappointed in certain things about the restaurant. I’ve had some amazing Mexican street food before (see end of post), but this definitely did not live up to my expectations.

First off, the positive. We began our meal with guacamole (of course, I can never pass up guacamole) and I have to say it was some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had. It wasn’t bland like some guacamoles and it wasn’t overly limey or spicy. It was a perfect balance of guacamole ingredients and was topped with pico de gallo. We devoured it and even got a second order of it after we finished our meals! I also got a prickly pear margarita which was really delicious. It was pretty sweet, but I like sweet drinks so I didn’t mind. Plus a salted rim helps to cut the sweetness.

Unimpressive tacos...chicken on the left, fish on the right

Not my favorite tacos…chicken on the left, fish on the right

Now, for the not so great. We were pretty disappointed with our main entrees. I ordered one Taco de Pollo – tequila marinated chicken, cilantro mayo, salsa verde and pico de gallo – and one Fish Taco – tilapia fillet, slaw, avocado, cilantro mayo and chile de arbol salsa. Sounds delicious and flavorful, right? Wrong. There was nothing bad about these tacos, it’s just that there was no flavor. With all that was on them, you’d think you’d get some great flavors but I was really unimpressed. Another thing we were frustrated with was the fact that they would only accept one of our certificates, despite the fact we were paying separately. They told us that coupons are one per table, which seems a little ridiculous if everyone is on a separate check and you all want to use your gift certificates. So much for a free meal. And maybe we shouldn’t have ordered that extra guacamole…

I probably wouldn’t go back to Cantina for the food but it is a nice place to grab drinks and guacamole. However, we have to go back anyway now to use our second certificate! 5 orders of guacamole? I think so!

So what was my amazing Mexican street food experience?

The best Mexican street food I’ve had was at a place in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, called Papacitos. I went up to New York City in December and my friend, who lives in Greenpoint, kept raving about the tacos from this place. She took me one afternoon and now I have to say I’m just as obsessed as she is (if only I was close enough to eat it every day). The pork in my anjito pork taco was so juicy and had such a wonderful flavor that I don’t think any other Mexican street food can compare to. They were wrapped in homemade tortillas, and the best part was they were cheap! Even cheaper than Cantina’s…

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