Good Mexican food is not easy to find in Paris, so when a friend told me that there was a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant around the corner from her, run by a Mexican family and guaranteed to be authentic by a South American friend, we made a date to go to Taco Loco the very next day.
Located in the 19th arrondissement, the restaurant is actually more than just a hole in the wall. Decorated in festive bright colors with paintings on the walls that appear to illustrate Aztec myths and Cinco de Mayo paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, it sets a touchingly uncool folkloric tone. The uncooler the better, I thought.
Mom and Pop did the serving and, as it turned out, the cooking as well, with their grown-up son occasionally helping out.
We started out with chilaquiles (corn chips with green tomato sauce, chicken, melted cheese, red-bean purée and crème fraîche) and nopales (cactus salad with onions, tomatoes and cilantro on corn tortillas). Both very tasty.
The main courses, all served with rice, beans and salad, were more interesting, especially the delicious cochinita pibil, pork marinated in orange and Mexican spices, served with corn tortillas.
I loved my tamales mole, cooked the traditional way (steamed in a corn husk), filled with chicken and topped with mole (sauce) made with chocolate and spices. There is something addictively good about tamales, made with corn that has been through a complicated preparation process.
The fish dish, pescado a la Veracruzana, was cod nicely spiced up with onions, peppers, olives, capers and tomatoes.
The desserts are made by the mother – her husband makes the rest – but we only had enough appetite left to try one, the Imposibile, so-named because it achieves the seemingly impossible – and delicious – feat of marrying chocolate cake to flan and baking them together in the oven.
The heat level in the savory dishes has been toned down here, probably to suit the taste of French people, who don’t care much for chili, but most dishes had a little fire to them, and, of course, salsa picante is available to those who request it.
This is not Mexican haute cuisine, but everything was very tasty and well-prepared with good ingredients. I will go back to sample more of the dishes and definitely for the annual fiesta on September 15, which, I hear, involves a mariachi band. Not to be missed!Favorite