After a late Wednesday night of picking and knocking back a couple of beers at Callaghan’s, my Thursday needed a bit of a Mexican pick-me-up. I have been crazy for Airport Boulevard’s Taqueria Mexico, having visited more than a handful of times during its short life. I celebrated my buddy Chandler’s birthday there. I’ve taken my boys a couple of times. Nestled right next to Guitar Center, it has become one of my favorite spots. So for the day after a Deluxe Trio gig, my toe was still tapping to the previous night’s music and I assembled a small group to nurse myself back to health.
We met early before the lunch rush came in. It was fellow picker Steve Pato and his lovely wife, Miss Dixie Pato, along with Rob and me. We got right to the point with appetizers as Pato ordered a Mexican Coca-Cola. If you youngsters have never had a Mexican Coke, you must know it is a different experience from what you’re used to. These are still made with real sugar as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup, and though some blind tests suggest you cannot tell the difference, I’d be willing to bet I could.
Our first appetizer was the chorizo fundido ($7.99). This is nothing more than grilled sausage out of the casing topped with melted cheese and jalapenos. Chips were strategically placed in this dip, laid out on cast iron, and the whole table was very pleased.
Although we were off to a good start, for my money the guacamole fresco ($7.99) was an even better choice. It was basically the usual guacamole with onions, jalapenos, tomatoes and cilantro atop the green goodness. It was the freshness that grabbed my attention, and every now and then a little heat would grab a little more. This is a great app for four people to share.
It’s ladies first, of course, and Miss Dixie went straight for the Tamales Deluxe ($9.99). This pair of tamales was a little heavy on the masa but what made them deluxe was the topping of sour cream, lettuce, beans and pico de gallo. Who knew two tamales would make such a meal?
Rob zeroed in on the Fajita Quesadilla ($8.99). He chose the beef version over the chicken version and said the beef was tender and a little spicy. The onions and peppers were cooked perfectly and, in his words, “The cheese held it together like a mother holds a newborn.” If he had a complaint it was that the tortilla was rather crispy on the edges. I don’t see him filling out a comment card, though. He took it down as if he were a much larger man than he is.
Pato is a taco fan. You can’t get him to hush about tacos. When he visits a place for the first time, he goes with what he knows because that is what you should do. He knows Barbacoa Tacos ($3 per taco). These shredded beef tacos come on corn tortillas double-bagged and served with cilantro, onions and lime wedges. It’s nothing but plain, simple, authentic Mexican fare. He mentioned they may have been a little drier than others he’s had, but still very good tacos.
I had a single tamale, like Miss Dixie’s but without all the stuff atop. This was one of the biggest tamales I have ever eaten with so much cornmeal it dwarfed the meat. That didn’t bother me. The flavor was outrageous. I also nabbed two tacos, the first of which was Al Pastor. The sautéed pork was flavorful and not too heavy, but the fried carnitas version was even better.
A few days later I went back at dinnertime with Lucas and Graham tagging along. Graham jumped right on a kid’s cheese quesadilla ($4.99) and chose rice over french fries while Lucas felt manlier with an adult shrimp quesadilla ($10.99). Both boys are quesadilla crazy and cut them up into tiny triangles, really just as an excuse to wield a knife for a moment.
I could not stay away from the Cocktail de Camerones ($13.99), and will say it’s my favorite shrimp cocktail in the city. They don’t skimp on the shrimp or the onions, which are two things I love. The cocktail has a little bit of sweetness to the tomato sauce and a generous amount of spice. I caught myself reaching for the extinguisher a couple of times. It comes with a handful of saltines, but I passed those along to Graham for his cheese dip habit.
Two visits in one review and I can say my dining companions didn’t have many complaints. I had zero. I love this place and am happy there’s a more authentic Mexican option just over Interstate 65. This isn’t a place you’d take someone used to Tex-Mex for chicken. It’s more of a south-of-the-border establishment.
Of the more authentic Mexican restaurants I have written about in these pages, I will say this one has the largest menu and the friendliest staff. I’ve found the one I would recommend. Try for yourself.
3337 Airport Blvd.
Updated at 1:47 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 to correct a wrong telephone number.