Friday, October 15, 2010

La Mexicana - Newport, KY

We recently made an impromptu visit to the most authentic mexican restuarant the city has to offer.  La Mexicana is the real deal, but it is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it, as it is a tiny space located on Monmouth street a few blocks up from Newport on the Levy.  

Caution: our server did not speak English.  He did one of those numbers where he nods after you say something, making you think he knows what you said. As a semi-proficient Spanish speaker however, I can recognize when those nods actually mean "I don't know what you are saying but I see what you are pointing to on the menu."  So my suggestion is that if you are one of the substitute/leave off/add type of customers at a restaurant, bring a Spanish-English dictionary to this one.  Luckily I was able to specify that I didn't want onion on my tacos, but I'm confident that if I had made the request in English, I would have received a nod followed by onion filled tacos.  

Don't let that deter you though, because the tacos are worth the trip.  There is a long list of options (everything from beef tongue to mushrooms), and you order one at a time (2.95 each) making it easy to try different types. The tortillas are layered and have a crispy exterior and chewy interior texture (if that makes any sense).   Each taco comes with onion, lime and fresh cilantro - but the focus is definitely on the protein.  As a proud condiment addict though, I was hoping for cheese and some kind of suped up aioli.   We tried the chicken, asada, carnitas and barbacoa tacos.  Each one was great, but the asada taco topped our list.  

Now for the chips and salsa. I think it's safe to say that Nada has the best tortilla chips in the city, and unfortunately for La Mexicana, their chips just can't compare.  They weren't very fresh and lacked salt.  The salsa was made with green tomatillos and I was told by my spicy food loving boyfriend that it was great. 

We also ordered queso dip.  It was white, a good sign, as real mexican queso dip is not yellow. It was a little too thick though, and I have to say that the queso dip at Rio Grande in Fort Thomas (which is very near to our hearts and we will review at some point) is significantly better. 

Overall, the tacos were great and it's hard not to appreciate the restaurant's authenticity. The tortillas are absolutely delicious.  I'd like to learn how to do that myself though- so I can privately stuff them with toppings.  

Note: We recently saw a Good Eats episode where Alton Brown made this type of tortilla (it looked complicated).  The recipe is likely on the Food Network website if you are interested.

La Mexicana: 642 Monmouth St, Newport, KY 41071

La Mexicana on Urbanspoon


Ellen said...

One of Jack and my favorites!

Anonymous said...

The food aint the same since the ownership changed and their english still isnt good dnt waste ur time..

Anonymous said...

Not sure you're qualified to comment on 'the most authentic' Mexican restaurant if you expect alioli or cheese on your tacos.