Where can you find authentic Mexican tacos in Petah Tikva?

Here's a taste of the food you can get at the Mexicana chain, with branches all over Israel.

Mexicana's delights.  (photo credit: GIL AVIRAM)
Mexicana's delights.
(photo credit: GIL AVIRAM)

Mexican food has such evocative names: burritos, quesadillas, enchilada, tacos, fajitas. You could translate them, but the attraction would be lost.

The Mexicana chain, founded in 2006 in Israel, has many branches, so one-day last week we found our way to the kosher branch in Petah Tikva and discovered a cuisine that, until then, we knew mainly for its guacamole.

It’s situated in a pleasant open-air mall with several other restaurants, and when you walk in, you are struck by the sombreros used as lampshades, and the welcoming smiles of the helpful staff.

We opened our Mexican experience with – what else? – Margaritas, these made with mango juice, lime and an almost imperceptible amount of tequila. It was refreshing but more like a soft drink than a cocktail.

My dining companion’s eyes lit up when he saw the magic words “chicken wings,” so we ordered that as a first course (NIS 45). Not the healthiest choice, I admit, but always so tasty with all that schmaltz and syrup. They were served on lettuce leaves and were very peppery – the Mexican aspect I suppose – with a very good aioli/coriander sauce on the side.

 Mexicana's delights.  (credit: GIL AVIRAM) Mexicana's delights. (credit: GIL AVIRAM)

They came with a mountain of wet wipes, the implication being that they were meant to be eaten with the hands, but this was not an option, given all that gooey sauce. It was a great starter. Call me perverse, but I loved the lettuce leaves smothered in the sauce.

Our main course consisted of three tacos – a corn-based tortilla – with three different fillings: barbecue, fish and chicken.

The first was filled with slow-cooked asado beef, frijoles – a kind of bean paste – red onion, coriander and salsa verde. It was an explosion of flavors, and we loved it.

The second was even better, pescado with guacamole and Mexican cabbage. The fish had been deep-fried and was very fresh.

Finally, the pollo, chicken taco, slices of pargit in a citrus sauce with achiote (a Mexican flavoring made from various pungent spices), salsa mango and pineapple. There is also a vegan taco available.

We ordered a large beer (NIS 29) and a small diet Sprite (NIS 13) so I could make myself a shandy, the perfect drink for the spicy food.

For dessert, we declined the offer of churros (too much oil and sugar) and chose Chocolate Fiesta, a very rich cake with some “Chantilly,” which was sinfully good. A final fling of mint tea and black coffee ended this very interesting and, for us, unusual meal.

Mexicana3 Totzeret Ha’aretzPetah Tikva(03) 759-9191Open: Sun.-Wed, 12 p.m.-11 p.m.; Thurs., 12 p.m.-12 a.m.; Friday, 12 p.m.-3 p.m.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.