Monday, June 14, 2010

El Sombrero

I've been on a quest for good Mexican food in the New Haven area ever since moving here four years ago.  For awhile I found C.O. Jones on State Street to be a good option because they have a fairly decent selection of vegetarian offerings on their menu which can easily be made vegan by eliminating the cheese.  Their Spinach Burrito is particularly good, and quite filling.  But unless you're up for a screaming match during dinner, it's better to choose somewhere with less of a party atmosphere, or go there during the summer break.

A couple blocks away on Mechanic Street, another decent option is Mezcal.  Based on the reviews at Yelp, most people either love it or hate it.  I tend to fall somewhere in between.  This feels more like a traditional Mexican restaurant with homey, unpretentious fare, which I like.  It's tough for a vegan, however, since most everything on the menu contains meat of some kind.  So if I'm in the mood for veggie fajitas, fresh quacamole, and a creamy pina colada, this is where I go.  If I want something else, I usually just stay home for the night.

I'd really like to find a Mexican restaurant in New Haven with decent enchiladas that can be made to order without cheese, hearty vegan Mole sauce, fresh pico de gallo and guacamole, and margaritas made with fresh lime juice.  And if there was ever a vegan flan on the menu, I'd be there every night. 

A surprising discover this weekend was a Mexican restaurant called El Sombrero, tucked into a strip mall on Queen Street, the main drag in Southington.  I have to admit, I was exepcting to get a taco salad or something similar sans cheese, but was pleasantly surprised to find an extensive vegetarian menu that included mixed veggies as a filling for burritos instead of the usual rice and beans.  Plus, all the sauces were vegan.

I chose the La Bandera Enchiladas, a row of 3 veggie enchiladas with Mole sauce, Red Enchilada Sauce and Tomatillo Sauce accompanied by rice and beans.  I devoured all three, unable to decide which tasted the best and should be saved for last.  While the refried beans were probably straight from a can, I enjoyed an accompaniment that I don't often indulge in.  Reviews at Yelp are almost entirely positive, with many raving about the Salsa (which I thought was good, but nothing special since salsa is so easy to make).  The evening was topped off by a Mariachi serenade which would've been nice to enjoy over a glass of Prickly Pear Margarita.  Next time, perhaps.

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