Why is Mexican Food in Australia so terrible? - A rant

I live in Adelaide, South Australia. I like good food. Well, that's a lie, because if you take the opinion of my bathroom scales, I'll eat anything that I find - be it healthy, unhealthy, lots, little, crunchy, soft, whatever.

image.png
Image source

If it is edible, and palatable - I'll eat it. If I haven't tried it, I'll try it. If I like it, I'll eat it again.

So, it doesn't take me much to enjoy food. So much so - that when I'm invited to try a new restaurant or the likes with my friends, I'm very keen.

Recently, I went to a Mexican restaurant here in Adelaide, South Australia. I won't mention which one, because it is irrelevant. I have prior experience with at least five other Mexican restaurants, and I'll elaborate more here:

  • I'm not sure Taco Bell from my visit to the United States counts
  • Some fancy Mexican restaurant in Roswell, United states, where I can't remember much because I drank way too many Long Island Iced Teas
  • A take away place nearby that does Mexican
  • Another take away place that does Mexican
  • A Restaurant in the East of my town that does Mexican
  • and the one I visited most recently.

The familiar statement I make is that Mexican places are not good value, and the food is always sub-par. I am sure that this may have something to do with my favoured flavours.

  • I don't like excessive amounts of sour cream, which seems to be a staple in (predominately Australian interpretations) of Mexican food
  • I dislike guacamole even more than sour cream (which, again, seems to be an Australian obsession)

Now, I get why Mexican food can be so tasty. Spicy, shredded meats; beans; cheese, and growing spice, accompanied by rice.

However, the "consumer" grade Mexican at every place I have gone to has been:

  • Mild
  • Dry
  • Tasteless
  • Afraid to use a high proportion of beans
  • Not at all spicy

Why is this the case?

I imagine that cost and margins are a significant factor - as fundamentally, the ingredients that make a good Mexican meal are not all that expensive or hard to obtain, particularly here in Australia.

  • Beans are everywhere and plentiful
  • Chicken, beef is readily available
  • Tomatoes for salsa are everywhere
  • Spices are easily obtained

At the most recent restaurant I went to, $30 Australian, which is around $22 US Dollars, I got served the following:

  • 1 Chicken Wing
  • 2 Jalapeno poppers that were the diameter of a quarter (or a 20c piece, for Australians) ;) and as tall as a stack of approximately 10 coins (they weren't even real jalapeno poppers that involved the whole pepper)
  • 2 handfuls of soggy, warm nacho chips that tasted like generic Doritos with a tea spoon of beans
  • One taco with some chicken
  • 1 Burrito bowl with about 1/4 of a cup of shredded beef - it was mostly lettuce

Now while this sounds like a "lot" of food, this was the 2nd most expensive option on the menu. While restaurants are generally more expensive than eating at home, the above ingredients could probably be acquired for less than $10 AUD.

The biggest insult in all of this is that the service you'd expect from a restaurant was not excellent. People arrived around 1930, and there wasn't table water on the table until about 2000, and it was only when guests got up that glasses for table water were obtained at 2030. Everyone was gone by 2130.

The restaurant, however, was all too happy to continue offering cocktail jugs. They would've made a killing. I was extremely dissatisfied with the quality of the food, and I've resolved that I will not eat at any Mexican style restaurant ever again. I would, however, be keen to try other Mexican dishes - so let me know of any favourites in the comments, and I might just try them, because I LOVE spicy food.



0
0
0.000
22 comments
avatar

Anyway, what your view about Indian stuff....your love for chicken...like chicken Tikka....

img_0.3306975945534163.jpg

0
0
0.000
avatar

I cook many mean curries. Tikka is amazing and the Indian spice profiles are really nice and complex. I particularly enjoy vegetables done in an Indian style, and the way in which the spices and sauces caramelize onto whatever you're cooking is incredible.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Honestly, you describe most Mexican places I've eaten at in the States as well. The only good Mexican I've ever found has been at small hole-in-the-wall places run by immigrants who barely speak English—but who provide real, authentic Mexican food. All other places I've been to are more American-Mexican than Mexican. Let's not even get started on the poor Mexican offerings here in Japan.

Your best bet may be to just research the ingredients and make it yourself. I have a buddy here in Japan who did that—he got tired of the poor Mexican offerings here and so he learned to make his favorite dishes by himself. Before I had kids, I was always making excuses to stop over and have some of his cooking. These days it's a bit too far to travel. Ah well.

0
0
0.000
avatar

If I lived in Japan, I don't think I'd want Mexican food! :) Japanese food is awesome (or at least, the Australian versions of it at local places tend to be!)

0
0
0.000
avatar

This made me laugh.

Ya, Taco Bell doesn’t count. And 30$ for what you got sounds crazy, but I’ve heard everything in straya is expensive as hell.

Living in Mexico now, Mexican is all we really eat. I wish I could mail you some, but I don’t think it be much better than what you have had by the time it’d reach you 😂

Might just have to make a visit here. Or I can shoot you a recipe for some good shit.

0
0
0.000
avatar

All eyes (and mouths and tongues) for good food, feel free to shoot me recipes!

0
0
0.000
avatar

I will for sure. Let me find some good ones. What's your favorite thing? Tacos? Burritos? Chicken, beef, carnitas, etc? Other?

0
0
0.000
avatar

anything! I like all food! link me up!

0
0
0.000
avatar

I think I have been there and yup it was ordinary.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Its by the sea, that's all I'm gonna say.

0
0
0.000
avatar

There was a little place in a food court near work a few years ago. They did these incredible enchiladas. Just a 'hole in the wall' takeaway deal on a plastic plate, but I'd think about them for an hour each side of lunch. They lived in my head first, then they were devoured by my eyeballs, mouth and stomach in that order.

image.png

0
0
0.000
avatar

I love Mexican food and I enjoy the sour cream and guacamole. We have a great place in Cyprus if you are ever in this side of the woods

0
0
0.000
avatar

My ancestral heritage is from Cyprus, my father was born there. It isn't a place I'm keen to visit given their opinions on first borns sons of fathers and mandatory military service. :)

0
0
0.000
avatar

So, what I suggest you need to try is to make some on your own. One that I’m sure you’ll dig and is worth the effort are birria tacos. Use beef. You’re welcome. (They’re like little mini quesadillas that you dunk in a delicious broth.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Hmmm. Broths usually don't get along with my beard, but I'll take a look :)

0
0
0.000
avatar

You’re going to be thanking me man. Also, a lot of traditional Mexican tacos don’t have cheese. A great salsa is the name of the game. That or look for quesatacos.

0
0
0.000
avatar

You should try making some yourself, if you're game! 😀

I've only tried one mexican place here in Aus, I don't even remember the name of it. But it was pretty sub-par. My partner was raving about it, "It's delicious!" so I'm like, "Cool. Let's go!" and we go... annnndddd... yeah, it was alriiiiiiight. But the guacamole was literally mashed avocado with no red onion, tomato chunks, garlic, or anything, JUST smashed avo. And, as you said, way too much sour cream.

I've made better stuff at home following assorted recipes online. I'm not allowed to make proper guacamole though 😅 my partner hates coriander. Boooooo!

0
0
0.000
avatar

I definitely can, and will - when the desire for such food manifests again. The problem is my experience has left me riddled with scars, leaving me unwilling to want to venture back into this culinary world for now.

0
0
0.000
avatar

2 handfuls of soggy, warm nacho chips that tasted like generic Doritos with a tea spoon of beans

Sounds like that might have been exactly what it was? x_x

0
0
0.000
avatar

I think even Doritos have more flavour. : P

0
0
0.000