There are some questions that are rather tough for me to answer. One of those is, “What’s your favorite Mexican restaurant?”
Honestly, I have no idea because the ones I enjoy going to often have something in common: great happy hour deals or some strong connection to my family and loving the restaurant is more about sentimental attachment than good food.
I went to Border Grill in Santa Monica on Wednesday night to celebrate a classmate’s upcoming wedding. The food was good, but as a Mexican who grew up with working class immigrant parents, I’m somewhat cheap. When I caught site of the $17 chicken chilaquiles on the menu, I almost had a fit.
The first time I had chilaquiles as a kid my mom called them “ropa de gato” (cat clothes) or “poor people’s food.” I love chilaquiles and often eat them for breakfast, but had to pass up on them because I’m morally opposed to paying $17 for a dish I grew up thinking of as “poor people’s food” and a way to get rid of old and stale tortillas.
When I told my Chicana/o friends about the $17 chilaquiles they were equally surprised. One laughed and said, “gourmet Mexican food is just wrong.” I couldn’t disagree. Perhaps it’s ’cause we’re just cheap, or more likely because we know really good Mexican food does not have to come at such a high price.