Being of Mexican heritage and living in the Midwest I shouldn't be surprised that so very few people really know how 'authentic' Mexican food really tastes, but I am. Here in Rapid City there are many so called Mexican restaurants, so I was hopeful that I would finally have the opportunity to sit down to a traditional Mexican meal that I could fully enjoy without having to be the one in the kitchen cooking. The natural instincts are to ask those who have lived here longer which restaurants are good. Unfortunately this is not the wisest course.
If you ask the self proclaimed 'practically Mexican' girl from Texas the answer is Ixtapa. But whatever you do don't believe her. As my daughter said after going there with that very same girl, it was definitely NOT authentic Mexican food. Hmmm, maybe there is a major difference between Mexican cuisine in our family and that of those in Texas...????
Avoiding Ixtapa, I decided to try out Que Pasa. It has had some good reviews and got its start with the help of a Hell's Kitchen Chef, so I thought he should know what he is doing. WRONG!
The minute we walked in the door I was overwhelmed with the smell of get this .... not fresh hot tortillas or the rich aroma of Mexican spices, but the smell of CANNED re-fried beans. The atmosphere was pleasant and they sat me right away, but I was far from impressed. Needless to say I did not stay. I wanted real Mexican food not canned!
There are a few other large Mexican restaurants in the area. However, I wanted taste not atmosphere! So, I decided I needed to look for a small mom and pop whole in the wall if I was to have a true Mexican meal. I am happy to say I found one!
Sabor a MexicoThis tiny family owned and operated restaurant is definitely has a taste of Mexico. And yes it is tiny, the dining area only seats around 30 people. It was just what I was looking for. The aroma when I walked in told me I wouldn't be disappointed, and I wasn't.
My daughter had Carna Asada and I ordered a combination plate with one shredded beef enchilada, one pork tamale and one jalapeno and cheese tamale, of course it came with rice and beans as well. The enchilada was very good and the tamales were mouth watering good, especially the jalapeno and cheese tamale. And the re-fried beans, Oh My, they were heaven! No canned beans here, they were honest-to-God re-fried beans. For those of you who have only ever tasted canned re-fried beans, you are truly missing out on one of the great pleasures of an authentic Mexican meal.
My only disappointments were that the salsa was very mild, and the rice to me was rather bland but at least they both had the right blend of flavors. I also reminded myself that here in the Midwest they undoubtedly had to keep it mild or risk losing business. Heck, even within my own family if I make things to satisfy my craving for hot spice most of the rest of the family say it is too hot, so I typically make a small batch of HOT salsa for those of us that like a bit more kick and we add that to our food.
So if you are in Rapid City and craving Mexican food I recommend giving Sabor a Mexico a try.