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Cincinnati Bites
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Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009

La Mexicana is located in Newport, Kentucky on Monmouth St. It consists of both a small Mexican grocery store and a taqueria-style restaurant.

Parking is available in the rear and if you enter via the grocery store entrance, you walk past the register, make a right, hang a left, then a right again, passing a dimly-lit bar area full of several tables I've never seen used. Then you enter the main room of the restaurant, where four booths exist on the first level and a small set of stairs lead down to larger booths and the cook's area behind a long counter.

The feel is of a truly authentic indoor taqueria: simple, no-nonsense Mexican food offered on a two-page menu. Often there is music playing from the jukebox upstairs, competing with the TV in the corner, which may air Mexican soap operas or sporting events.

Chips and salsa are served when you first arrive. The salsa is delightfully spicy green tomatillo. Among the usual soft-drink choices, there are also Mexican beverages such as Jarritos and 500 milliliter Mexican Cokes (a Mexican Coke is, of course, Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico, which contains sugar instead of corn syrup).

Tacos here are served in a traditional street vendor style: you get two corn tortillas holding your chosen meat (or vegetables), topped with onions, cilantro and lime. Some of the available meats may seem unusual to Mexican food greenhorns. Available meats include goat, tripe, brains and tongue, along with the usual beef, chicken and pork. Prices per taco range from $2.45 to $2.75, depending upon filling.

Vegetarians also have a variety of taco toppings to choose from, including Hongas (marinated mushrooms) and huitlacoche (aka "Corn Smut"), a fungus that grows on corn and is considered a delicacy to the Mexican community (not to mention a couple Gringos who shall remain nameless).

While the "safer" taco fillings are superb, we also recommend trying the more traditional fillings. Tongue (La Lengua), for example, tastes very much like pot roast. If you can overcome the appearance of the meat, your taste buds will be rewarded (with more than just another animal's taste buds).

Other fare include gorditas, enchiladas and the Flag Burrito, which is as colorful as it is huge, easily putting something you'd find at Chipotle to shame.

When your meal is complete, head back over to the Mexican grocery store and peruse the isles; you're bound to find something intriguing to try.

La Mexicana on Urbanspoon
La Mexicana

Price: Cheap (under $11 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 4.04.0 stars




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