Cyndi was in Japan, she'd lament the loss of decent (or even crudely recreated) Mexican food via gchat. In New England, I've found that all things south of here are often melded together into a Mexican-southern hybrid. Take Harvard Square's Border Cafe: At first glance it's a Mexican restaurant, but upon closer examination, it's Creole and Southern cuisine all rolled into one.
This isn't a fancy place. The building sits on the corner of a small street that almost has the feel of Disney World. There are few cars, a lot of pedestrians, pretty trim on the building, and a homemade ice cream store across the way. Sometimes there's live music in the alleyway nearby, sometimes you can hear the bands playing downstairs at Club Passim. This is a great corner of Harvard Square.
The food here is delicious; I've never ordered something I didn't like. Pictured above is the cajun shrimp caesar salad. The portions are generous, and the chips and salsa are bottomless and fresh. This is the place I think of when I want to get a margarita. They range from frozen to on the rocks, from classic to strawberry to pomegranate to top shelf. You can try something new or go for the classic (which also has a great price tag). The space is big enough to accommodate large parties, with big family-style round tables upstairs and long, camp-style tables downstairs. The menu is huge, which means vegetarians can be just as satisfied as their counterparts.
I've celebrated birthdays here, stopped by for a drink or dinner before a movie at the Harvard Loews theatre down the street.
So, here's the lowdown.
What's my wallet going to say? It's very affordable. The prices range from $6 to about $20, and like I said the drinks are pretty reasonable as well.
What should I order? I love the black bean and corn empanadas, but that's because I love empanadas. Also, the frozen raspberry margarita makes the stickiness behind your knees disappear in summertime, and the taste of it in the wintertime reminds you that all frozen things do come to an end.
What's the drink situation? They have delicious sangria, margaritas, and beer. Their sodas and water come in huge plastic cups, which I love when I'm eating something spicy.
Dessert? I've never eaten dessert there, mostly because I never have room (thanks a lot, endless chips & salsa!). There is a JP Licks down the street and an ice cream shop across the street. There's also a Pinkberry and Berry Line (our local version of Pinkberry - support local!) and Crema Cafe, which has the most delicious brownies in the world. So yeah, if you decide after you've left that you have a hankering, you won't be too far from satisfaction.
Other notes... This place is hopping on weekend nights (and even some week nights), so be sure to get there early and have your party get there at the same time. But who cares if you have to wait; get a margarita and enjoy the country music that always reminds me of home.
What's your favorite Mexican food joint?