Tokyo is the “World’s Greatest Food City,” and at last count home to over 200 Michelin-starred restaurants. More than ramen, udon, and tonkatsu places, you can find pretty much whatever a human can consume if you search hard enough in the Metropolis. But just because you can find it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be mind-blowing. Take my addiction to burritos, tacos, salsa, and guacamole, for instance. I can’t seem to get enough Mexican food in my life; you can thank my Southern California upbringing for that.
It’s an ethnic cuisine that seems simple enough to make, but difficult to get just right for many, but lately, there are a few shops scattered around Kanto that have made themselves worthy of my (not very authoritative) praise. These aren’t chains like Taco Bell, Frijoles, and Guzman Y Gomez(although I am grateful for them too!); These are places that are one-offs where you’ll feel like Instagramming and Facebooking that enchilada when it comes to the table.
In 2015, I wound up living in this blue-collar neighborhood just between Musashi-Kosugi and Mizonoguchi on the JR Nambu Line. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about the area other than cheap housing close to major rail lines. But situated a 10-minute walk from the south exit of the train station is a hidden gem, Cactus Burrito. Their slogan even states itself as being “an oasis in the desert.” One look at the menu awash in all manner of burritos, enchirios, carne asada fries, and a fridge chocked full of craft beer, and you can easily see why I make the trek to this hole-in-the-wall joint long after I moved out of the area.
Cactus Burrito (A Cactus In The Desert)
Baja is a straight-up dive-bar “cantina” style outpost on the edge of the upscale Naka-Meguro neighborhood just south of the Meguro River. I became acquainted with the place about eight years ago during the cherry-blossom viewing that happens around here. I became a frequent patron due to the affordable prices, tasty authentic tacos, and heavy pours on cocktails. The place can only seat maybe five people, but feel free to take your tacos on the run; there are a few outdoor benches, and that river stroll is very picturesque if you’ve never been over this way before.
バハ BAJA 中目黒店
Located in the trendy Shimo-Kitazawa district, Avocado bills itself as showcasing the best of modern Mexican cuisine. Most dishes here are lighter variations of your favorites with copious amounts of avocado, citrus juices, and cilantro tossed in for a very flavorful experience. One taste of their nachos with big chunks of avocado and fresh guac, and you’ll be hooked!
メキシカンダイニング アボカド 下北沢店
(There are also other locations in Shinjuku 3-chome and Kyoto as well)
— By Jason L. Gatewood