Friday Five: Cinco de Mayo

Taqueria MayaTwo big things coming up next week: Cinco de Mayo and Derby. You’ll see some Derby-related posts from me early next week, but I’m in a mood for spicy Mexican, so Friday is devoted to Cinco de Mayo!

In the past few years, there’s been a surge of good Mexican restaurants– no longer the beans/rice/protein, Americanized stuff– you can get all kinds of authentic Mexican food right here in Cincinnati.

1. La Mexicana, my very favorite Mexican restaurant, is a little hole-in-the-wall on Monmouth street. I love their super-fresh guacamole and barbacoa tacos. You can also get more exotic fare, like goat and tripe. I’ve never had a bad meal there.

2. Taqueria Mercado, Downtown. I really love their nachos (I know, American, but very high quality ingredients). In fact, it’s the only thing I get. I’d steer away from their margaritas– the first few times I had them, they were great. Not so much anymore.

3. Taqueria Maya, Mason, which is also owned by the same folks who own Taqueria Mercado. This vibe is much more street-food than its downtown sister, and specializes in tortas.

4. Rio Grande, Newport, which is more of the “Americanized” stuff, but good quality (their fajitas are great) with fast, friendly service– and good margaritas.

5. Cincy Cinco Festival, which is next weekend on Fountain Square, features lots of Latin American food, including Puerto Rican and Central American food from the following vendors:
Taqueria Mercado

Mi Ranchito

El Pollo Locuaz

El Valle Verde

La Plaza Supermarket

El Manantial Latino

Yuerva Buena

It’s May 7 and 8th on Fountain Square, from 12 PM-11 PM on Saturday and 12PM-7 PM on Sunday.  I can’t wait to try it out.

  • http://smalltownbigciny.wordpress.com Rachel

    No mention of Cancun?! The one in Norwood is fabulous! And the real deal :)

    • Rhonda

      I like it too!

  • Sara

    Maya’s in Florence is also pretty good – if you can get past the fact they’re attached to a BP gas station. Their salsa is quite good, always fresh, clearly homemade with a kick but not too hot. Their tacos are slightly less good than La Mexicana but a good alternative. And the margaritas are tasty if very strong (you’ve been warned!!).

    I have to say, though, I just can’t go on board the love train that everyone else is on for Taqueria Mercado, at least not the downtown location. The food there has been mediocre on each of 3 visits; the first visit in their opening week was fine, but it’s gone downhill just a bit more on each subsequent visit. And their service has been worse than the food on all but the first visit as well. I get that they’re one of the few moderately-to-low priced downtown dinner options, but that’s no reason to be so sub par on both fronts.

    • http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com dc

      Completely agree with you about the downtown Mercado. Service is spotty at best, the margaritas are more ice than beverage, and the menu items aren’t prepared nearly as well as they are at TM’s Fairfield location (where the margaritas are boozy and cheap). Unless I’m up for a road trip to Route 4, it’s La Mexicana for me.

  • vudutu

    Last time we were in La Mexicana it was a little disappointing, Cincy still lacks a good Mex joint.