Mexican Food, cheap and charming

Food & Drink - July 4th, 2003
tokyoweekender_Chef and owner

by Charles J. Waggon

Seems like darn near every American from west of the Mississippi, the minute they land in Japan, starts in a-whinin’ about how they can’t find good Mexican chow in Tokyo. Now, I’ve met a few Mexican folks here in Tokyo, and I don’t hear them whinin’ so much. Aw heck, maybe they do, but they’s never as LOUD as us Americans.

So here’s two good Mexican places; Charlie Jake sez thumbs up. One’s a cheap cantina joint where you drink and chow down on Tex Mex with your buddies. The other’s a very fine Mexican restaurant, not too expensive, and run by Mexican folks, of course.

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Sehor Hidenori Kai opened Don Blanco seven years ago

Don Blanco is where you go for your cheap Tex-Mex. It’s a cozy cantina in Shinbashi on a seedy street where every 90 sec­onds a young woman asked me if I wanted a massage. (If you’re a man and that doesn’t happen to you, then you’re even older and uglier than I am.) Anyroad, you’ll get that “border town” feeling even before you walk in the door.

Inside Don Blanco, you’re gonna love all the bright colors. Looks like a clown exploded inside, and splattered the walls. Got carved wooden chairs and tables from Mexico, too. The real deal here is the corn tortillas made fresh every day (¥300 for five), griddled to order. That’s why they got that aroma of corn masa, amigo.

Want tacos? Buy the fillings extra and roll your own; 10 kinds, all cheap. Bowl of red? Your Chili Con Came is ¥500. They do use ground meat instead of chunks of steer beef, but it was hot enough to make even me break a sweat.

Chili, tortillas and cervezaat Don Blanco — the best deal in Tokyo

Not a complete menu, but pretty close. Enchiladas are ¥600, your choice of chile verde or chile rojo. Camarones Cocktail, ¥800. Chorizo, ¥1,000. I’ll warn you about the Huevos Rancheros, my favorite hangover breakfast. Here they are actually egg tostadas, not real HRs, but they’re pretty good anyway.

Cerveza? Si, señor. Lots of Mexican beers, all less than ¥650. Looky here – beer is half price between 5 and 7 p.m., so my Negra Modelo cost ¥280. Can’t beat that in Tokyo. Tequila? All kinds, along with mezcal with the worm (Gusano Rojo, ¥600) for a little gringo thrill.

Great place to bring your pals, and maybe a deck of cards for a poker game. Charlie Jake sez says thumbs up.

Don Blanco
Momoyama Bldg. 3F
3-18-7 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone:5401-2066
Open 5 to 11 p.m.
Closed Saturday, Sunday and holidays
www.donblanco.com

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Posada del Sol is a one-minute walk from Shimo Takaido Station on the Keio and Setagaya Lines

Posada del Sol feels like a fancy restaurant in a pricey Mexican neighborhood. Beautiful interior, Mexican theme, and thank gawd they didn’t overdo it. Main dining room, separate bar with patio-style seating. Tables of all sizes, and fancy enough to take a date.

Ceviche Posada with shrimp, baby scallops, octopus and other seafood, ¥1,300. Tacos Carnitas, just like in Mexico; small soft corn tortillas, crispy pork  inside, ¥900. Especial offer, chicken and cheese, wrapped in a large flour tortilla, fresh salsa and hot sauce on the side, ¥1,000.

Chicken Mole, rich and smoky tasting sauce, nutty and spicy, with a hint of cocoa flavor, sharing the large plate with Spanish rice and a dab of house-made refritos, served with two soft corn tortillas in a basket. ¥1,300. Chicken Enchiladas with chile verde sauce, with rice and refritos, ¥1,000.

Great Mexican food, with a few north-of-the-border favorites to keep the Americans happy. Fair prices and pleasant service. Our waiter was Mexican. Turns out the owner and the chef were too. Nice folks. Charlie Jake sez two thumbs up.

Posada del Sol
4-40-7 Akatsutsumi, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 5300-9970
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner: 6 to 11 p.m.
Bar open till 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays
Closed Wednesdays