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The good news is that now there are at least four or five places to eat Mexican food in Beijing (not at Amigos, though, it just closed.) The bad news are that none of them is stellar. Why is that? Lack of competition? Lack of a demanding consumer base?
As one demanding consumer, I say: Beijing needs better Mexican food!
I guess you might say that no, the reason you love Beijing is that it is far away from Mexican food and similar pernicious cultural dilutions. But I say that ship has sailed, and there are already Mexican restaurants. Since they exist, they might as well not suck.
But you’re reading this post to find out where you should eat Mexican food in Sanlitun, and now I can tell you: it’s Luga’s. By a mile.
The reasons were pretty simple – price, atmosphere and flavour were all better there compared with the Saddle Cantina.
At the Saddle Cantina, we ate:
Soft tacos with carnitas, and a margarita. (Unphotographed was a chicken tortilla). The carnitas were identifiably carnitas, but that was the only thing worth saying about them. The tacos were inexpertly stuffed, and were hard to eat, the salsa didn’t taste very good. Covering them with Tabasco was the only way to make them even slightly interesting. And the margarita was way oversalted – it was a chore to drink. The two items cost 105 RMB.
Afterward, at Luga’s: a caipirinha, nachos, and chicken burrito:
The caipirinha was excellent, as were the nachos: very nicely cheesy (with two layers of cheese!) and pretty spicy. The burrito could have used some improvement, it wasn’t as flavourful as it should have been. However: all of this cost half as much as at the Saddle. A clear winner! Quite amazing for a place whose menu is half Vietnamese.
7 Sanlitun Beijie
Open 10 a.m. – 3 a.m.
The Saddle Cantina
Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Beijie
Open 11 a.m. – 3 a.m.