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27 June 1996

Mexico Is Not North of the Fifty-Fifth Parallel

The skeptical diner should be wary of a restaurant purporting to serve Mexican food in a locale over twenty degrees north of Mexico, an ocean away from Mexico, or over a thousand leagues from Mexico. Maximilian's Restaurant set off all three alarms, but when stranded in the "Quality" hotel without a car there is no other practical option. That was the position in which I found myself, a plight shared by the Mexican diplomats dining at an adjacent table.

It was an ugly situation.

Maximilian's menu is bifurcated--arbitrarily, it seemed--between the "Emperor" half and the "Warrior" half. I ordered a spinach dish; it's extraordinarily difficult to make spinach inedible. It's even more challenging to prepare satisfying Mexican food so far away from that country's culture, soul, and natural ingredients. The cooks didn't beat the odds, which was good for me and bad for the Mexicans. The unfortunate representatives of the Mexican government showered their bland dinners with torrents of Tabasco sauce, but no amount of peppers could put the fire into such a tepid meal.

Based on that sad visit to Maximilian's, I can add two caveats to the three I initially cited. Be extremely wary of a "Mexican" restaurant displaying a Three Amigos sombrero. And never ever expect decent Mexican food in a restaurant where the drinks are served by cute anthropomorphized rabbits.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart