Looking for great (read: authentic) Mexican food in the Basel region? Believe me, the best you’ll find is the kind you’ll make yourself – El Sol in deepest Allschwil and Scatola on Nadelberg in downtown Basel have the wherewithal, including terrific fresh corn tortillas that are about as far away from the dreaded Old El Paso variety as Mexico City is from Basel. And for loads of ideas on how to do Real Mexican at home, check out the recipes in the archive, here, and/or sign up for my next workshop, Thursday 22 March, 9-1.
Failing the above, try Cafe Tacuba on Malzgasse in Basel, near Aeschenplatz. It’s a great name – Cafe Tacuba is one of Mexico City’s iconic restaurants (it opened in 1912) in a deliciously louche, mildly edgy part of this monster city, smack in the centre of town. It’s a fab colonial building, stiff with gorgeous tiles, brass lighting fixtures and Diego Rivera-ish murals – oh and sopa de tortilla, caldo Tlalpeno, sundry tamales, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, moles of various hues and – in season, when the fresh walnuts are just off the tree – chiles en nogada to die for.
Cafe Tacuba in Basel is not quite (yet) in the same league, but it’s trying hard and doing a pretty good job. I heard about them from El Sol, who supply many of their raw materials (tortillas, dried chiles, frijoles, canned tomatillos, chipotles etc. etc.). When I went first lunched there, the day’s specials weren’t all Mexican (but see my latest post for an update). The only authentic dish was nachos, which didn’t sound especially promising, but as the alternative was a vaguely Asian/Thai rice dish, I gave it a go. Good choice: the tortillas (from El Sol?) were cut in triangles and felt like they’d come straight out of the fryer – definitely not out of a packet. Over the top slithered a pretty gorgeous mixture of black beans, melted cheese, sour cream and (a few too many) canned jalapenos. In the middle was a heap of guacamole that almost rivalled the one we make at my workshops – no weird spices or stuff out of packets, just unadulterated avocados, garlic, fresh green chiles, lime juice and loads of coriander.
I’ve put Cafe Tacuba up on my Eating Out in Alsace/Basel/Baden page – give them a go if you haven’t already done so – and report back please.
As for the guacamole recipe, see you at Real Mexican on 22 March.