by Kelly Wetherille
Being an American with a natural penchant for spicy foods growing up in one of the least diverse areas of the country, I spent my childhood eating Mexican dishes as often as I possibly could. These days when friends visit Tokyo, one of the first questions I am asked is whether or not one can get a decent Mexican meal here. Luckily, the Japanese are so enamored by food of all kinds that the answer is yes.
While I had heard that La Jolla offers up good-sized portions of tasty Mexican favorites, I hadn’t actually tried the restaurant until recently. On the second floor of a building overlooking Hiroo’s main shopping street, La Jolla’s interior is decorated the way a Mexican restaurant should be—with a plethora of mix-matched and colorful photos, posters, flags, sombreros and other memorabilia. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and while not much English is spoken, there is an English menu available. For those with a large appetite or a desire for variety, La Jolla offers a course menu for ¥2,625 per person, including cheese nachos, tortilla soup, taco salad, a taco or enchilada, fajita, dessert, and coffee or tea.
While this option was definitely tempting, we decided to go for something a bit more modest in scale and ordered from the combination menu, which enables diners to choose from a range of popular main dishes accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans. Hoping for the best of both worlds, I opted for a chicken enchilada and beef taco (¥1,680). The chicken was shredded, cooked and seasoned to perfection with just the right amount of spicy kick, and the enchilada was smothered in the typical red sauce and an ample amount of melted cheese. Complemented by the rice and beans, it actually made me think—if only for a moment—that I was dining in one of my favorite Tex-Mex restaurants back home. The taco as well did not disappoint, filled to the brim of its crispy shell with fresh lettuce and seasoned beef, then topped with shredded cheese and Mexican salsa.
La Jolla’s extensive menu includes all the typical Mexican dishes one would expect, as well as vegetarian options such as tofu tacos (¥945 for two) and vegetable chimichangas (¥1,050). It is also known for its flavored margaritas (¥840–¥1,050) and variety of high quality tequilas (¥420–¥1,260 per shot), making it just as good a choice for drinks as it is for food. Private parties of up to 35 people can also be arranged, and the management will customize a menu depending on customers’ specific requests and budget limitations.Open Wed–Mon for lunch (11:30am– 2pm, until 3pm on weekends and holidays) and dinner (5–10:30pm)
2F, 5-16-3 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku
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