For some reason or another, Mexican and Tex-Mex just don't seem to stick here. There was that place in Yad Harutzim that closed a few years back, and Caballeros on Bograshov which, after a 4 year or so run, shut its doors earlier this year.
But then there's Mexicana at the corner of Ben Yehuda and Bograshov which seems to be holding strong. When it first opened, Mexicana was actually a pizza joint that built a pretty loyal following. After being taken over by new ownership 3 years ago, the look and feel became a fair bit more southwestern and, along with the tortilla pizzas still baking in the pizza oven and ample pasta selection, Chef Itamar David (of Israeli food company Tres Pesos) was brought in to add more authentic Mexican fare to the menu.
When we entered Mexicana on a windy Sunday night the first thing I noticed were the charming paper table covers that explain all the basics of Mexican eating – tortilla, salsa, jalapeño and the like are bilingually defined (Hebrew and English) – and the amazing Tabasco selection (upon each table no less than 4 types reside, including chipotle – my favourite one!)
Once we'd done a thorough reading of the table mat, we decided to focus in on the menu and make some decidedly Tex-Mex selections: Nachos – or to be more specific, 'Muchachos' – freshly fried crisp corn and wheat tortilla chips covered in melted mozzarella and salsa, and a hot sizzling pan of hongos salteados (sautéed mushrooms). While neither was a particularly figure friendly selection, both were extremely efficient in warming our bellies and satisfying our rich savoury food craving. The whole mushrooms were covered in onions, red peppers and best of all, large slices of jalapeños, allowing us to decide just how spicy we wanted each bite.
After a brief respite, our two ample main dishes arrived: Fajitas con pollo (chicken fajitas) and Chimichunga con carne (crispy fried ground meat tortilla). The fajitas (a personal favourite) came on a sizzling platter half filled with Mexican-style rice and some frijoles (black beans) and half filled with sautéed chicken and bell pepper strips. Accompanying were all the fixings, including tortillas, chive sour cream (an original and tasty take on the classic), guacamole and a sweet tomato salsa. The best thing about fajitas is that you get to decide exactly what and how much of it goes into each wrap. I was half way through my second (this time with the rice added into the tortilla) when I realized that I had better leave some room to taste Idan's Chimichunga. This massive tortilla had been stuffed full of a ground beef stew, breaded and then deep fried. It also came with side of creamy coleslaw.
Amazingly, despite the richness and intensity of our meal, or perhaps because of it, we were left with a penchant for something sweet. Continuing on with the evening's theme, we headed across the Texas border and had a dessert that originally came to Mexico with the Spanish: churros. Mexicana's version was filled with hazelnut cream and halva (though we requested them to hold the halva due to personal preference.)
And then, as we polished off the last couple bites and licked our spoons clean, I took one last glance at the menu and I realized what had been missing from the meal. How could we have reached the end of this Tex-Mex meal with a margarita or two? There, on the menu's back page was a list of no less than 5 types of frozen margarita. An especially tempting reason to come back next time…
7 Bograshov, Tel Aviv