Originating from the west coast of the US, Mexican food has long been a staple in my diet. On my first forays into Europe, I made a few optimistic attempts to find suitable restaurants to satisfy my cravings for chips with salsa, fish tacos, over-sized greasy burritos, and cheesy enchiladas. Just about every single attempt was a complete and utter failure, leaving me homesick and a bit sick in the stomach too.
The first time I tried Mexican across the Atlantic, it was in England. Mind, the English aren’t exactly known for their abundance of spicy food. The salsa was chunky ketchup, the chips oversalted, and the food was unseasoned and tasteless. I was miserable.
My attempts in Stuttgart were hardly more rewarding. Again, I was met with chunky ketchup masquerading as salsa – but this time, I was paying at least €1 for 2 tablespoons of it. At the rate I normally consumed salsa, it would make for an expensive evening. Fortunately for my wallet, the impostor salsa wasn’t worth it, and the flavored (and MSG-laden) chips served alongside were inedible. I have little recollection of the main courses, because they were unremarkable. My hopes were that the German version of Mexican food would be significantly better, because German food is very good. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
There was one semi-decent in-a-pinch restaurant in Stuttgart, Joe Penas, which was overpriced but at least offered fish tacos worth going back for. This restaurant is a chain, however, and I’m not sure there are any actual Mexicans involved.
Which brings me to the real reason for avoiding Mexican food in Germany: there just aren’t enough Mexicans in the country to allow for authentic cuisine in restaurants. Eat ethnic foods from groups that are well-represented: Turkish, Hungarian, Greek, Italian… plenty of great food on offer made by those who know how it should be!
Should you find good Mexican restaurants, please let us know… and until then, make your tacos at home.