You can look all you want, but you’ll probably never find the traditional Mexican food that you search for while in Buenos Aires. I’ve been here almost a year and a half now and I’ve only seen a handful of places that claim to offer Mexican food. I got a good burrito a year ago at the California Burrito Company, though by my standards it was hardly special, yet in comparison with others available it was the best around. A year passed without my beloved burritos or fajitas and I was starting to lose it. Yesterday while taking a walk through Palermo I decided to finally try La Fábrica del Taco, which I had been told about a long time ago from Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market. Trying to remember what they said about it, I vaguely remembered a similar review of the California Burrito Company, in that it was sufficient for the lack of other Mexican food, but was hardly what you would hope for back home (or in Mexico, of course). As it turns out, they fully endorsed it.
I’m of the opinion that the only places in the world where you can get really great Mexican food are Mexico (obviously) and the United States, the reason being that the immigration and influence of so many has brought that food culture and tradition. Outside of these places I’ve always been sort of disappointed with the food. So jonesing for a burrito in a bad way, I wandered over to La Fábrica del Taco on Gorriti 5062 in Palermo Soho and moseyed up to a table. Looking at the menu quickly I was already let down in that there didn’t seem to be any burritos or fajitas. Burritos aren’t necessarily a staple in all Mexican restaurants, but in a food joint/stand that specializes in tacos, I would expect at least one option.
Looking over the options of tacos I was pleased to see that the prices seemed reasonable from $11-20 pesos for tacos. I chose the Campechana with meat and cheese, thinking I would get a full meal. When the taco came I was really let down. Small and without any company, save a couple lemon rinds and pineapple slice, the taco was just that, one taco. I don’t know why, but I was thinking along the lines of a larger tortilla or a couple small ones. Somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear Bart Simpson saying, “100 tacos for $100…Man, I sure could go for 100 tacos right now.”
I loaded up the hot sauce and was at least happy in that it had some kick to it, but it was far from 5-alarm. With the taco quickly gone I felt left with no choice but to order another. I didn’t want to drop another $13, but I figured that if I only came once I might as well get well-fed. The second round was a chicken with cheese (at additional price) taco, which also was small but tasty. Let me clarify, it’s not that the food was bad–on the contrary it was quite good and a nice change of pace from Argentine cuisine. But the portions were disappointingly small and left me wanting more. There was something nice about sitting in the back courtyard area with the music bouncing from Mariachi to Buena Vista Social Club, etc. At the very least, it had the feel of being in Mexico.
I don’t know if I would totally recommend this place, but if you find yourself totally desperate for Mexican food while in Buenos Aires and have enough money to drop on 5 or 6 tacos, go for it.
La Fábrica del Taco: Gorriti 5062, Palermo Soho
California Burrito Company: There are several locations of this chain which is quickly growing. I went to the branch on Lavalle in the Microcentro, but there is also a branch in Palermo, etc.
*I’ve heard that the best burritos are in California, specifically Los Angeles. Since I’ve never been to California, I can only imagine, and my favorite burrito joint in the WORLD will remain Bueno y Sano back in Amherst, Massachusetts (also in Northampton). I was lucky enough to feast on those giant burritos for 4 years in college and if you ever find yourself in the area, make the trip. When I was home for 3 weeks in August, 2009, my buddy Goldberg and I drove 4 hours in terrible traffic and heat with no air conditioner in the car to get these burritos. We got there soaked and starving, ate, walked around a bit and left. It was worth it.