Brendan and I went to El Mex for dinner tonight, along with his lady friend, and while we were there, we started talking about the plethora of Mexican restaurants in Fort Bragg. Here’s the list we came up with:
Taqueria Ricarda, La Bamba, El Mexicano, El Sombrero, the Purple Rose, Los Gallitos, and Mi Casa (which is named something else now, I think?).
The topic of discussion was not so much the abundance of Mexican restaurants, as it works out to about one per 1,000 residents. One per roughly 250 people of Hispanic origin, if you want to get fancy with your statistics. What intrigued us was that each restaurant has a camp of loyal followers. These followers praise said establishment to the skies, and will hear no word of eating anywhere else. If you want to get a real conversation going in a group of people up here, just toss out that “La Bamba has the best chips,” and hold on to your seat.
I believe it was Haddock who suggested blending the best offerings of each Mexican place, taking chips from here, salsa from there, and so forth. He would be on to something…except that Los Gallitos has the best everything in town, and we all know it. Ah, Los Gallitos. Their chips! Like little kisses from heaven, fried there and crisp, faint hint of oil, vehicles for salty perfection.
Anyway, back on topic. I’m not quite sure when Mexican restaurant affinity is established, but I think it begins at a fairly young age. I suspect that it may be related to parental preference, and I am depending on some of my recently spawning friends to participate in field studies to research this further. Brendan and I were trying to list the last times we had been to each of the places in the list. For me, it turned out to be:
- Taqueria Ricarda: last summer, with a group of friends who all really wanted to eat there.
- La Bamba: last Spring, when I ran into a friend on the street and she wanted to grab lunch.
- El Mexicano: before dinner tonight, 11 September, 2001. I shit you not.
- El Sombrero: early ’90s, I think?
- The Purple Rose: early ’90s, was violently ill.
- Los Gallitos: Saturday, with Tallie, where I had my customary chicken wet burrito with guacamole on top, which is kind of like making out with God, if He was a burrito. And sometimes I think he is, when I eat at Los Gallitos.
- Mi Casa: never, actually, they opened right before I left town.
I think you can guess where my personal Mexican loyalties lie. For me, there is no Mexican restaurant, other than Los Gallitos. Brendan, of course, would prefer a different establishment, which happens to be Ricarda’s. Now…I understand his reluctance to eat at Los Gallitos. They do, after all, use chicken stock in their rice, which means that he basically cannot eat anything. But he prefers the guacamole at Ricarda’s too, traitor! The least he could do is acknowledge that he is settling for second fiddle.
As you can see, El Mex was a bit of a compromise for us, and I have to say…I was actually pleasantly surprised. I had a pretty awesome (and giant!) burrito, with a good mixture of dead animal parts, rice, beans, cheese, and guacamole. I would never, of course, forsake my true and only love, but I could settle for El Mex now and then, I think.
I’ll have to add it to my list of “places I eat in Fort Bragg.” It’s a short list, so I’ll pop it up here in case you are too lazy to pore through the archives, and I’ll list by proximity to my abode, for extra style points:
Nit’s Cafe. Mmmm…Nit’s. No, really, it’s fucking delicious. A little pricy, for sure, but the food is awesome, and Nit rocks out in the kitchen, which is so refreshing to see. I haven’t been yet, since I got back, but soon. Soon.
Headlands Coffeehouse. Well, I mean, of course, it’s like home. Only a home where I can’t plug in my laptop. I, er, cannot count how many times I have been to Headlands since I returned. Pretty much daily, is safe to assume.
Mendo Bistro. I heart the Bistro. I have eaten there twice since my return. (And I am still lobbying for pork gelato! I want to see it happen.)
Jenny’s Giant Burger. It’s sort of like my dirty little secret, a place I go for fries and a crappy hamburger and a sense of greasy all American comfort. I go for a double giant burger with half grilled onions, half regular. And they don’t use pickles! Not a pickle in sight. Oh, yes. I went with Adam on my third or fourth night in town, since the moment seemed ripe.
Los Gallitos. Which happens to be next to the laundrymat, which is awesome. The most delicious, excellent Mexican food to ever cross my lips. Except for that random really good Mexican place in Dublin. Weird. I have worshiped at the burrito altar twice since my return.
GiGis. When Viraporn initially left and the restaurant changed hands, I was not impressed. Felicia has since converted me, and now I have a jonesin’ for Thai food. A strong jonesin’. Too bad it’s 2am and they aren’t open. Thus far, I have only been once, with Felicia, but I have high hopes.
El Mex. The surprise late entry!
Sharon’s by the Sea. It can be hit or miss, but when it’s on, it’s on. Oh, yes. I haven’t been to Sharon’s in quite a while, actually, I should probably go again and assess the scene. Although I do remember dinner being better than lunch.
Chapter and Moon has also been highly praised in my presence, but I haven’t been yet. Any of my Fort Bragg readers up for a Chapter and Moon adventure?