Thursday, June 12, 2008

MMMM Mexican...

Yesterday I met a wonderful pal for lunch at the brand new El Mezcal Mexican restaurant off Forest Park in Bearden (11110 Kingston Pike # 127-130 Knoxville, TN 37934). They are currently offering a half-off draft beer special to commemorate their opening. We didnt drink any beers, but I thought that bit of tasty news merited mention. I had lunch special #3, a taco and rice and beans; and my dearest friend had a fajita taco salad. Both were from the lunch menu.

This is the second time this friend and I have visited El Mezcal. She and I have also, on many occasions, visited other Knoxville Mexican restaurants. Why? Because Mexican food is a sweet and delicious gift from our friends down south; it is a taste explosion; it is heaven on a plate and a tattoo on my heart.

I love it. I really do.

And as I sat with my lady at El Mezcal, I formulated a list of all the tastes of Mexico Knoxville has to offer. I certainly havent tried them all, but I have tasted some of the best.

My favorite Knoxville Mexican restaurant is Senor Taco on Broadway. (3325 N Broadway St. Knoxville, TN 37917). I love this place. It's just a quick little jaunt from home, and it's selection is a little more authentic. This is to say that it's not as Americanized as a lot of Mexican restaurants can be (not that there's anything wrong with that, but this is just something a little different). Senor Taco has a great ala carte taco selection: chicken, ground beef, asada, carnitas, tongue, fish...the list is longer than that, but that's the off-the-top-of-my-head glance. My manfriend is Colombian, and he really likes Senor's tacos. Especially the more, should I say, daring ones. Other menu perks are delicious tostadas and cevice. We usually get a cevice to share as an appetizer. Then I like to order two or three (depending on how hungry I am) different tacos and a side of beans. And a big margarita. Their margaritas are delish. And they've got daily food and drink specials, big ol' draft beers, and a salsa bar. Yum!: pickled carrots and jalapeños. Creamy jalapeño salsa. All kind of other salsas. Fresh cilantro, lime... Senor Taco's a little bit of a dive, which is what I may love most of all about the place. I always feel at home there.

Another joint close to my heart is Soccer Taco on Bearden Hill. (6701 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919). Soccer Taco is a Mexican sports bar, with a myriad of TVs airing Hispanic sporting events from all over the world. (And of course the Vols). Soccer Taco's salsa is the best in town. I could drink it. Also, when I want to splurge on some sinful treats, Soccer Taco is the place to get really great cheese dip or nacho fajitas. Their Carnitas and Carne Asada entrees are both Em and Manfriend approved. And the Enchiladas World Cup are yummy, though I get those sans sour cream. Dont get me wrong: I like sour cream. Just not on enchiladas.

My good friend Lisa lives out Northshore way, so she's a regular at Casa Don Gallo (7741 S. Northshore Drive Knoxville, TN 37919). I like to sit at the bar here; and I also like the plain old beef tacos. A funny thing about me is that I was a vegetarian for superty long; but I do love me a good beef taco. The staff here is friendly; and on your way home you could stop in at Rooster's for a frat party beer.

When my dad visits from Michigan, he sometimes likes to go to Agave Azul in Western Plaza (4405 Kingston Pike Knoxville TN 37919) because he loves the Queso Fundi, which is a clog-your-arteries cheese dip with meats (beef or pork? - can't remember). I have to admit, it is really quite good. They have a fully stocked tequila bar, which can be quite fun.

I dont get to Pelancho's (1516 Downtown West Blvd. Knoxville, TN 37919) very often, but it's a fun place to dip into before seeing a movie at Downtown West. I do live for a giant margarita.

Once, when there was an accident on the Henley Street Bridge, Manfriend and I found ourselves temporarily stranded in SoKno, so we stopped in at the Cancun location on Chapman Highway (4409 Chapman Highway Knoxville, TN 37920). Not a bad place to kill two hours, but it's not on my list of must-eats.

Same goes for El Charro. (One of three locations is at 6502 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919). I have quite a few friends who swear that El Charro is the place to be, so maybe I just havent given it a fair shot. I'll put it on my list of re-visits.

I am not forgetting to mention Chez Guevara (8025 Kingston Pike # A Knoxville, TN 37919), but this place just doesnt do it for me. I'm not hating on it, because I know a lot of people love love LOVE this place. It's just, in my mind, not the Mexican du jour in this town. I guess I like down and dirty Mexican food; and Che Guevara seems to me to come with extra decoration.

Finally, my most favorite Mexican Restaurant in this area is La Carreta, which can be found in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Newport (761 Cosby Hwy Newport, TN 37821), among other places. Manfriend is from Newport, and we used to live down in Hartford, so we've frequented the Newport La Carreta for years. The Camarónes Diablo is disgustingly good. It's spiced perfectly (well, it's really HOT; and that's how I like it) and the shrimp are massive. They've got a good salsa and salad and their avocados are always fresh. They're also willing to fry up whole jalapeños for us. Yum! With a cold beer? Just the best. La Carreta has a high mark on my heart.

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And that's my list. Exhaustive? No. Just one woman's opinion about some good Mexican eating. Please leave your comments about your favorites and feel free to review any place I may have left out.


ck said...

mr. taco is my favorite too. we go there so much that we're on a first name basis with the waiters. it also doesn't hurt that it's across the street from our place.

p.s. s.t. is THE place to take someone for their birthday if you want to go above and beyond the usual waiters-singing-off-key-awkwardly routine.

Nathaniel said...

Thanks for the list. I needed this when I first moved to Knoxville. I will now try the ones I havent tried now.

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced our research is complete.... :)

Anonymous said...

It's NEVER complete, Jess...

Amelia said...

Love Senor Taco! But I have to say both Soccer Taco and El Charro are equally delicious as well.

The Pol said...

ems love your new pic. soooo cute