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In Dining Commentary

La Perla: home of the mechanical pepper.

Social Circle: Are Milwaukee's Mexican restaurants better than other cities'


Welcome to a weekly segment called "Social Circle." It's a group effort between readers, social networkers and the OnMilwaukee.com editors. Every Monday, we ask a question via Facebook and Twitter and then post the responses from our Facebook "likers" and Twitter followers in this column. Well-known Milwaukee movers and shakers will contribute, too.

Tomorrow is the first day of Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, but we couldn't help diving into a dining question for this week's Social Circle.

Many Milwaukeeans pride themselves on the Mexican dining options in this town and, undeniably, there are some excellent South of the Border eateries. This week's Social Circle question, however, asks if Milwaukee's Mexican restaurants are truly better than those in other cities.

Responses varied greatly, so read on for the whole enchilada. And feel free, as usual, to add your own thoughts on Milwaukee's Mexican food offerings via the Talkback feature.

Lindsey Baldewicz: "Hell, yes. Have had many so-so Mexi meals in multiple cities. Although Phoenix was an exception."

Ruben Castaneda: "Better than Los Angeles."

Patrick Goesch: "When I was in Phoenix they were at least as good."

Mathias P. Francklin: "Not necessarily ... They are good, but I think the ceiling is only so high for Mexican restaurants. Not a knock on Mexican food, it's just the nature of the beast."

Jennifer Goyette: "No, I've been to better in multiple cities. Eugene and Portland, Oregon come to mind. Milwaukee has some great Mexican food, but better than other places? No."

Lynn Guerrero: "I'm thinking no."

Craig Harnack: "Only so much you can do with Mexican cooking. First you boil it, then you fry it, then you cover it with cheese and hot sauce. And for the record, there is no such thing as a 'good' tamale. It's like someone chewed a mouthful of corn, sand and meat, spit it into a corn husk and boiled it for a day."

Natali Heuss: "I think it depends on which other cities. I used to live in the Bay Area and compared to them, no. Compared to Cincinnati, yes. We do have some great eateries here. But, some of the big ones that are so popular aren't necessarily them. One of my favorite Mexican places is actually Habaneros Mexican in Oshkosh. They are AMAZING."

Mary Olson Heun: "Yes! Botanas!"

Jake Kieffer: "I haven't been impressed with any Mexican restaurants. If I want something decent and authentic, I hit up a taco truck on National Avenue."

Phil Kirby: "It depends. We have some kick-ass Mexican restaurants out in San Francisco, but I still crave the tacos / tostadas and margaritas from Conejito's. La Fuente was good and I had some awesome carne asada tacos at this place on National that I have yet to find a match for out here."

Wendy Kogler: "I've never had anything better than Riviera Maya. Oh, how I miss it!"

Dan Krass: "I don't think so, at all. But we do have several VERY good ones, there's no question."

Heather Leszczewicz: "I think it depends on price range and how authentic it is. Here in Chicago, the best I can think of its Rick Bayless' places which are all on the same block and range in price and fanciness."

Lisa Lober: "YES! Living in Sydney and they have not a clue what good Mexican food is."

Steve Lord: "As good as places I used to eat at in Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez."

Tracy Lynn: "No flavor in Botana's."

Jonathan Maricle: "Personally, I really enjoy Seester's in Pewaukee. It's a small place by the beach, but the food is made fresh and it is ¡muy excelente!"

Kathie Stempski Mervyn: "I say yes, they are better here. I've tried Mexican in so many other states, and none of them seems to be 'authentic.' Flavor is usually what is missing. I'd say we are spoiled here. But want to hear tragic? I've never eaten Mexican while in Mexico! Silly, isn't it? I'm scared."

Daniel Nathan: "Milwaukee Mexican is pretty much awful ... Best ever is Abuelito's in Jackson Hole."

Sheila Neumann: "Yes! Definitely! I've been in Oregon for five years, and it is only a week ago that I finally found a burrito that I love!"

John Ralphenson: "Our Mexican restaurants are better here in Milwaukee compared to most if the U.S. The Southwest has eateries comparable to ours. Been going to Cielito Lindo which makes everything to order and is very vegetarian friendly – including no lard in the beans which my wife really digs."

Kimberly Rykowski Pedersen: "They are good, but not really all that authentic. Street vendors are usually more authentic."

Rick Phelps: "I believe we have great food at a lot lower prices than New York and Chicago."

Riggs Radionow: "Yes. Yes. And yes. Cempazuchi, Botanas, El Beso, freaking Conejito's place. Great, thanks. Now I want Mexican food."

Claudia Reilly: "Guanajuato, Revolucion and Cempazuchi are all excellent examples of Mexican restaurants in the area that have above average food."

Jen Skladanek: "Yes."

Tracy Sparrow: "I love Riviera Maya. Also love El Senioral. But when I lived in Chicago, I felt like there were so many more options for good Mexican food – any time of day or night. For me, Chicago trumps Milwaukee in the Mexican food category. Hands down."

Mitchell Wakefield: "There are a few good ones in Milwaukee, but for the most part they are a generic, homogenous bunch. And they're getting expensive also! El Canaveral at 25th and Greenfield is my favorite."

Grant Wheat: "I'm originally from Houston. They are not."


Talkbacks

danno | Sept. 30, 2012 at 6:28 p.m. (report)

Haven't been back to San Diego in some time, but it was and maybe still is the best Mexican food. Senor Tomas in Hartland is my favorite with Habenero on Brown Deer Rd. in the old Le Peep location a second. Did not know about El Canaveral so will try it out soon. Most Milwaukee joints are same old.

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InTheView | Sept. 30, 2012 at 9:38 a.m. (report)

the question is "what city has better refried beans and rice." so how do the answers get this condescending? I mean... I like mexican... but... no matter where you go, you get the same thing. most mexican restaurants are out to please all their patrons at once, so you can't get too spicey or too bland or you won't make everyone happy... I guess the best mexican I ever had was in denver, but it was made by my aunt. who is from mexico. so you can't get much more authentic than that.

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