Adventures in Culture and Travel

04 February, 2013

Mexican Food in Brussels

While my pictures didn't turn out the night of my visit to Los Ponchos,
this is the typical dry (style) burrito available there.
 You know, it's the cry of every American, somewhere around week four of arriving in Brussels, to complain about the absolute lack of Mexican restaurants in Brussels (Chi-Chi's does not count, not ever). For some reason Tex-mex, and Mexican food has not broke into the culinary scene in Brussels (which probably would be a huge hit considering the durum popularity). Of course protecting the sacredness of this beloved genre from Belgians could be a good thing. I visited a Mexican restaurant in Krakow Poland one time that served cabbage-like coleslaw as the lettuce. I can honestly say it was the worst burrito I've ever had in my life. I know what you're saying, "why eat Mexican in Poland?" Yeah, yeah, I know that now.

Not sure what Latino-Mex is nor why you would name a restaurant after
a "jacket". Yes, that's right, it's a Mexican restaurant called "the jackets".
There are a few places in Brussels though to get your hankering for the south-of-the-border taste. At home there's Mexi-Go, order mid-week and they'll even deliver it to your door. Some of my friends clamor about it, though I wonder why you wouldn't just go to Carrefour and make it yourself if you're going to go to all that trouble. I forget that sometimes, people don't know how, or don't want to cook. Another Mexican restaurant is near the ULB called El Cafe, and operates as part bar, part restaurant. But let's say you want a sit-down restaurant, without the chaos or the lack of convenience that self-preparation takes. Then you'll want to visit Los Ponchos. It's a bit hard to find, but just feet from near trams 92, 81 and 83 (Jansen).

I should also mention it's expensive: fifteen Euro or more for a burrito, not including drink. Doing the math puts this dinner in the range of some much finer restaurants in town, but when you just have to have Mexican, and considering the lack-there-of, you're going to pay for the luxury.

In the future, all restaurants could be like Los Ponchos.
Is it good?  Yes, but don't expect U.S. style Mexican food (if there even is such a thing [ex. Moe's, Chipotle]). Partially because I cook Tex-Mex on a regular basis (I'm doing it tonight in fact), I can tell you, the burrito I had (a ground-beef and cheese burrito) could never compare to most places in the U.S. or my kitchen. In fact it tastes, oddly enough, just like Taco Bell. This in fact may appeal to you if you're longing for that style of ground-beef Americanized Mexican. In fact I'm not complaining, because indeed, I love Taco Bell. I just never would ever confuse it with real Mexican food, or imagine I'd find myself in a fancy sit-down restaurant in Bruxelles eating it, served by a Francophone Belgian. It rather reminded me of the scene in Demolition Man when they inform Stallone's character that all restaurants of the future are Taco Bells. Even the plating, the decorated squiggles of salsa and sparse toppings seem to have come directly out of the movie. I mean it's a beautiful, slightly baked, darn fine, basic burrito. If they'd put in a window and sell them for half the price they'd have queues around the block. Till that time, this elusive insider's secret to Brussels remains the sad addiction of misplaced Americans who want a little spice of home, away from home, and have the money to afford it.