review

El Mexicanito: Sombreros off!

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Far from the usual nacho and burrito factories, El Mexicanito offers a version of Mexican food that is both authentic and family-friendly. This place is a real delight.

We won't mention any names but there are many places of the “all-you-can-eat buffet” type that have given Mexican food a bad name. As a result, this cuisine with a wealth of regional specialities carries an image of outdated junk food. Sadly, there are not many places in Brussels that are helping to restore its reputation. Fortunately, the capital has recently acquired a place worthy of the name: El Mexicanito. The place is not unlike a “cantina”, the type of place where men used to go regularly to drink mezcal and snack on “botanas” (a sort of tapas). This place, however, is more of a family cantina, an intergenerational place where children run about under the watchful eye of the staff. At the back, the beautifully colourful room opens onto a kitchen beneath some traditional archways. In the centre of the space is a wooden bar.

One of the owners made their reputation by importing tequilas and mezcals and supplying them to the best cocktail bars. The “mezcal ginger” (€9.70) was excellent, made with lime, cane sugar, and ginger ale to bring out the delightful and slightly smoky flavour of the agave liquor. There was just the right amount to whet the appetite. We began the meal, which was served on a pretty laminated tablecloth decorated with little red peppers, with a “camarón (prawn) ceviche” (€12). Served with a little packet of crackers, this cold dish, which is “cooked” using lemon, combines shrimps and fresh vegetables. It is the freshest and most delicate dish on the menu, so you won't want to miss out on it. We also tried the “queso fundido” with chorizo (€10). Consisting of melted cheddar-style cheese with slices of spicy sausage, the dish was good but relied too much on a combination of salt and fat. As a main course, we opted for a welcome vegetarian dish, quesadillas (€16), thin strips of vegetables wrapped in corn tortillas. The whole dish was brought to life with a sauce made with red and green tomatoes that was pretty good. We loved the accompanying mixture of rice, black beans, and salad. We would have liked to try the “arroz con leche” (€8), a typical Mexican rice pudding, but the generosity of the preceding portions made that impossible.

El Mexicanito
Sint-Bonifaasstraat 29 rue Saint-Boniface, Elsene/Ixelles, 0498-68.88.66
ma/lu/Mo > vr/ve/Fr 18 > 22.00, za/sa/Sa 14 > 22.00

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