Mexican Restaurants in Buenos Aires and Santiago

Funny thing about hot peppers. They are addictive. At least for me they are. My buddies from Santiago used to marvel when I’d order the “extra picante” version of an already fairly spicy Pil-Pil at California Cantina. What would make a person intentionally do something that hurts? One of those friends, not as accustomed to heat accompanying a capsicum laced plate of food, would try a bite of the fiery sauce in the Pil-Pil, and would guzzle down a few glasses of water (unfortunately no milk was available at the bar) and run to some part of the bar where he could whimper and moan in peace. But then minutes later he’d be back for another bite.

There are a variety explanations for why people endure such pain intentionally, but I will leave that discussion to another forum, or at least to another article. But regardless of the heat factor, chili peppers, when used in moderation have other culinary advantages, the most important of which is taste. When added to other foods they heighten the flavor and enjoyment of the dish. So this is why so many people throughout the world love food which incorporates capsicum.

Perhaps the most noted regional cuisine utilizing lots of the stuff is the food from Mexico and portions of Central America and the southwest USA. The most southern regions of South America (most notably Chile and Argentina) do not often incorporate the fiery red or green chili peppers into their recipes. They have sensitive palettes that without some conditioning don’t particularly like the burn accompanying the capsicum in the peppers. As a result they miss out on the flavor as well.

I’ve spent years trying to find restaurants that offered a fairly authentic version of Mexican cuisine in the southern cone of South America. I had all but given up the search. But over the last couple of years I’ve stumbled across a few sleazy little restaurants (sleazy being part of what makes them truly Mexican) and one that is actually pretty elegant in its presentation of one of the world’s most “earthy” cuisines, that come close to satisfying my Mexican food cravings. One of the first reviews on this website was of the sole restaurant in Santiago, Chile that I felt could justly call the food Mexican. El Ranchero in the comuna of Vitacura does a fairly good job of achieving that goal. But what about Buenos Aires? Are there any Mexican food restaurants that warrant a visit for lovers of the heat and flavor that only the pepper laden cuisine of Mexico can deliver?

Well in honor of the celebration of Mexicans and Gringos alike in the USA on the 5th of May each year we embarked on the goal of sampling the offerings of many of the most notable Mexican restaurants in BA. What follows is our assessment of each restaurant. So grab a bowl of Jalapeno peppers and a couple glasses of milk to chase the burn and see what we think about each of the restaurants.

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