The friendliness of the inhabitants becomes evident to you when you stop at the Texas Visitors centre, at the entrance to the city. One must agree that it is one of the more attractive building housing a visitors information office anywhere in the USA!
I specifically enquired for a place to savour some Mexican food. The Lady behind the counter, printed out a list and also a map of the downtown area and directed me to , El Meson de San Augustin, in Grant Street, just around the corner from the Cathedral and the central Zocalo.
The centre of downtown is one of the more Mexican remnants. On the side street, in a distinctly ochre coloured building, an adobe style house which might have been quite at home in many a part of Mexico, houses El Meson de San Augustin.
I was not disappointed. The bright interior and a welcoming ambience. The restaurant is open only during Lunchtime and when I arrived at 3 pm, the place was emptying but still a full complement of diners.
The menu presented a variety of home made Mexican food, not the usual Tex-Mex combination. I chose to have Lily’s special which was broiled chicken soaked in cheese, with chilis, with vegetables as requested. A middle aged man came to say hello and said his wife is the chef and has been cooking for many years.
We have been married for 40 years, he exclaimed, and he hardly looked much older. Did you marry when you were five? I asked him which brought a hearty laughter. No I was 19 and my wife was 15! This restaurant is the result of that conjugal bliss and I highly recommend that you make an effort to visit
El Meson de San Augustin in this city founded in 1755 and flew its own flag once upon a time..
Sanissimo feels more like a house than a restaurant with it's white & green decor and homey curtains & pictures. Since the place is small, service is immediate & very attentive. There are daily specials on the somewhat limited but delicious menu - oh, and it is mexican food. You can start off with an "agua fresca" and finish off with "home-made" yogurt & granola. Right next door, you can also obtain alternative medicine advice, herbs, etc.
Favorite Dish: Sanissimo makes delicious croquetas de papa (potato croquettes?) and chile relleno (poblano chile stuffed with your choice). The soup of the day is brought out to you while you choose your meal. Of course, you might want to try the fresh jamaica (hibiscus cold tea - I make this at home, too!) as a drink or any of their other "agua fresca".
The picture is of the outside of the restaurant. For parking = drive past El Rancho to the intersection, make a right, make another right, and a final right & you will find more El Rancho parking behind the restaurant. Yes, you just drove a circle around the restaurant but because of all the one-ways, it is the only way to reach the parking lot & the back door.
El Rancho is large, able to seat big groups. The inside has heavy wooden carved furniture with a stage on the south side for it's daily performers. You get to hear Mexican regional music like real banda, norteña, and of course, mariachi. Before the night entertainment (around 8pm), you'll usually see roving musicians who'll play your favorite song for $5 - 10 dollars. The food is good - typical Mexican & includes every part of the cow from (tongue) tacos de lengua (MMmmmmm) to sesos (brains) to menudo (intestine soup - like chittlings).
Favorite Dish: If it's your first time at a bordertown, get the parrillada. It is a combination of different meats (fajita, chicken, sausage) & choriqueso (chorizo sausage & cheese). This order is meant to share with everyone at the table so you get a stack of tortillas & pick your favorite meat for a make-your-own-taco. This is NOT for the health conscience : )
This tiny little restaurant on Marcella Avenue (not in the touristy area) is attached to La India Spice Factory. The menu is mostly Mexican but the aromas coming from the factory cover every spice conceivable. In addition to the delicious food, you can also purchase spice mixes of all kinds.
Concerning beer, Mexican beer is quite different in taste. Most people liked TEKATE, but I prefered BOHEMIENE (I am not sure for the spelling). Mexican beer is always served with a lemon slice at the top of the glass.
All little cafe-restaurants I visited in Laredo (US side), serve Mexican food. Takos, enchiladas, fahitas... These are the most popular dishes. In Nuevo Laredo I tried some sea-food dishes and, of course, meat grilled on the charcoal, in the traditional Mexican way, that is very spectacular! I am sure that Mexicans both know how and like enjoying their food...
Although we may be on the border w/Mexico, I must agree with Texas Monthly (Nov. 1999) and say that we don't have many good Mexican restaurants.
Here's what Tx. Monthly had to say...
Most visitors are passing through on their way to Nuevo Laredo to shop or party. Truth be told, the best eating is over there too, but a few good pit stops can be found on this side. The old guard loves Rosita's on San Bernardo.
COTULLA STYLE PIT B.B.Q.
4502 McPherson, 956-724-5747. You can get decent, not-too-Americanized Mexican food at busy, barnlike Cotulla, which is famous for its barbecue and its huge variety of mariachis (borderspeak for 'soft tacos'). Guacamole: 4.5 (avocado and fixings). Chips: 3. Salsa: 1 (totally bland).
EL TACO TOTE
5603 San Dario, which is the northbound access road for I-35; 956-725-8382. The best, most authentic place in town is a Mexico-based fast-food chain. The five spicy sauces on its salsa bar are all terrific, and the tender puerco adobado tacos—robust stewed pork in great corn tortillas—are heaven-sent. Guacamole: 3.5. Chips: 3.5. Salsas: 5.
115 Hillside Road, 956-726-6173. Locals love this cheerful little cafe, with its Formica tables and obligatory Mexican-village mural, for perfectly cooked huevos rancheros and breakfast mariachis on huge, homemade flour tortillas. Guacamole: 3. Chips: 3. Salsa: 5.
TONO'S BAR AND GRILL
1202 Del Mar, 956-717-4999. Toño's offers a menu that's slightly more authentic than most—including some interesting chile-based sauces—in a nicely decorated setting in a commercial building in the north part of town. Good enchiladas rojas. Guacamole: 3. Chips: 2.5. Red and green salsas: 3. (I find the place VERY mediocre)
As for the other meals, Laredo has the usual(mediocre) chain suspects, a few oriental buffets, and a surprising number of sushi joints. We do have a couple of good 'fish-Mex' places like Mariscos al Pescador, and Danny's, another local chain, is generally pretty good.
Ok first of all my favorite resturant is Chili's.
Now, the price is ok, the atmosphere is awsome and that's about it.
Favorite Dish: My favorite menu is the Chicken Fried Stake. It has mashed potato,corn(on the cob),and the juicy chicken fried steak.