La Batalla: New Paltz’s Mexican Restaurant Showdown

La Charla joined the onslaught of Main Street eateries after Shea O’Brien’s Irish Restaurant closed its doors in Spring of 2017.

I’m not Mexican, nor have I ever ventured that far south of the border, regretfully. Whether I’m qualified or not, I like to consider myself a Mexican food connoisseur. In reality, I just eat a lot of it, and I’ve acquired a taste. So, as I was passing by Main Street the other day, it dawned on me that there are a plethora of Mexican restaurants in our little town of New Paltz alone. It’s good to know the townsmen are aware of what us college kids like. That’s when I knew this story had to be told. Nobody asked, but I knew I had to give the people what they wanted – a full review of every Mexican joint in town. Though I’m a vegetarian, I slid in to the pescatarian zone, just for y’all. This article is completely sponsored by my own broke college student wallet so you know I’m going to be brutally honest. 

Burrito Burrito: Let’s start with the newest addition to the Mexican cuisine scene. The food is good, satisfactory even, once you finally get it after ordering and waiting a year or two. They don’t have the biggest menu, but picking one dish is actually pretty hard. Everything sounds good, plus they have vegan options! Gracias a dios! I got the burrito of the month (always a cute idea) which was a shrimp burrito. It was fulfilling, but listen, I don’t know about anyone else, but if I have to pour hot sauce on every bite before I eat it, the food’s not slapping that hard. 

Verdict: A commendable effort that I welcome to town, fit for a casual bite any time you find yourself hungry. Top off whatever you get with their fried oreos. Rating: 7.5/10.

Los Jalapeńos: I appreciate this one. They’re vibrant, they’re fun, you can tell they actually pour love into their food. Only qualm would be they’re a bit further of a walk, but that’s really it. I ordered the shrimp tacos and…well, it was pretty. All the ingredients were incredibly fresh. A bit too fishy, but everything else was exactly what I asked for. Their guac can use some lemon because it’s on the greasy side. 

Verdict: It gives me family vibes and that’s always nice. Nobody has anything bad to say about it and I concur. Rating: 7/10. 

Taco Shack: Now let’s talk about a place that everyone does talk smack about. Normally, I wouldn’t be caught dead going to a “shack” for food, but this is hardcore journalism. What I found, surprisingly enough, is that it isn’t that bad at all—I enjoyed it even. I was most taken back by the bowl of Cholula hot sauce packets. Neat. The fish tacos here are crisp and tasty, but nothing out-of-this world. The churros (because you don’t go to a place that serves churros and not order them) do the job. They come with melted chocolate sauce on the side that is a bit bitter, but I would have preferred Nutella. 

Verdict: This is a very straight forward, go in-get out type joint and that is all. Swipe a Jarrito while you’re at it. Rating: 6/10. Yea. 

Mexicali Blue: Here’s another go in-get out, hole-in-the-wall spot, mainly because there is, like, no seating. However, it is a rather colorful hole in the wall and I would sing its praises…if the breakfast burrito didn’t disappoint so much. I was pretty hungry, too, when I ordered it, but it still ended up in the trash. Their shrimp taco now, was decent, pero like…why was there only a single taco…for $6.50 at that? 

Verdict: The aesthetic is there, it’s all there and I was rooting for you so hard, Mexicali Blue, but the food just isn’t there. I’m sorry. Rating: 5.3/10. 

Mexican Kitchen: If you thought that was harsh, sit yourself down for this next one. The famous Mexican Kitchen. Another restaurant whose aesthetic is there. The ambiance is casual, but the twinkly lights amp up the cutesy feels. The house vibes are a plus, but then comes the service. The only reason this isn’t my favorite is because of the terrible dining experience that almost everyone who has ever been there can agree on. From long waits to utter bill paying mishaps, it’s a flop. A darn shame, too, because the food actually does slap. Hard. So I guess if you’re a more patient patron than I, go ahead and dine there. I, on the other hand, would only do take-out from now on because I take service very seriously and it’s not like I’m going to be that a**hole that leaves a bad tip, now am I? 

Verdict: Looks good, tastes good, feels like a bad time. Rating: Like, a 3/10. 

La Charla: Now let me tell a tale of some good customer service. Color me captivated by this beautiful establishment that sits at the top of the hill on Main Street. This—this—is a restaurant. As soon as you walk in it’s like you stepped off the plane in Mexico, not that I would know, but I’ve seen “Narcos: Mexico” and I can imagine. From the individual tiles above the long, cozy and lodge-style bar, to the engraving on the center of the tables, to the authentic Mexican water glasses and even the unstained exposed wood floors, it’s evident they put a lot of thought into this place. To keep with the theme, I ordered fish tacos here as well. They were good. Was I expecting more? Yes. Serving-wise, amazing. Presentation-beautiful. Flavor-a bit lackluster. 

Verdict: It’s a great date idea (hint, hint), but the aftermath isn’t so pretty. Rating: 8/10. 

Diego’s: Look, it’s not Chipotle, but it’ll do. Plus, it’s right on campus. I admit, as uptight as I clearly am with food, I can’t complain too much about this one. Their beer-battered cauliflower? Slaps. Their rice and beans? Slaps. Even their guac and chips slaps. It’s hand down the best spot in the SUB for some “real” food. 

Verdict: Dear Sodexo, if y’all could hire more than one person to work at a time, that’d be nice. Rating: Honestly? 7/10.

Bonus round! Crazy Bowlz: Oof. As creative and new age as this restaurant tries to be, my stomach did not find the appeal. I do applaud the Mexican-Asian fusion as a concept, but something about “pico de gallo” and “teriyaki” just don’t go together. 

Verdict: Their vegetable egg rolls are thicc and go harder than Asian Fusion’s. Their bubble tea? Simply divine. Notice how neither of those are Mexican. Rating: 5.5/10.

Mahnoor Ali
About Mahnoor Ali 46 Articles
Mahnoor Ali is a fourth-year English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. This is her third semester with the The Oracle. Previously, she has worked as Assistant Copy Editor and Features Editor. Her favorite stories to both read and write about are Culture, Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Columns, with an appreciation for News and social issues.