25 January 2012

Mexican food in Berlin? No thank you!

Does this look like a burrito to you?  No?  I didn't think so.     

I knew that Mexican food in Berlin would be weird.  Still, I had to try it.
I've been really careful with money since I've been abroad, scraping by on a strand of a shoestring, finding most of my clothing on the street, reading material at the flea markets and walking the extra block or two to the cheaper (if less convenient) grocery stores. 
I was meeting Robert at an art opening (which was quite disappointing) at 7:30, so I decided to get my stroll on down Oranienstraße around 6.  Oranienstraße is a hip and trendy street in Kreuzberg with lots of cafes, boutiques, and restaurants.  There are some döner and falafel shops, some Vietnamese places, and two Mexican restaurants.  Felt like walking, so I chose the one farther from my apartment.
Santa Maria Mexican Diner in Berlin is about as far from a San Francisco Taqueria as I could ever hope to get.  You know that 'no-ambience lighting and Mariachi music" that make a Mission district taqueria a true and honest experience?  In Berlin, one has to go to a late-night Kebap shop to bask in this type of cheap eats glow.  I know I am in for an interesting experience when I walk in and hear the a Clash album playing.  I don't remember the name of the album.  It's the one where they cover Bob Dylan's hit, "Maggie's Farm."  Good music, for sure, but not taqueria music.  Also, the lighting is, well, nice, soft.  And there's table service.  And I don't see ANY Mexican people.  Weird.
But I remind myself that I am not in California anymore.  Mexico is far away.  Of course, this will be a different sort of dining experience.  I force the doors of my mind to remain open as I order.  Though tempted by the vegan option with pumpkin and spices,  I stay true to my original goal of having a  comparative experience and order the Tippa de Pollo.  The Tippa de Polla is 6,50€ and is advertised as a chicken burrito with beans, cheese and salsa.  Look at the above photo.  Just look at it.  Does that look like a chicken burrito to you?  Does it?
If you've looked at the photo and you are still unsure whether to answer yes or no, let me help you out a little bit.  First of all, this "burrito" is wrapped in some sort of lavash or flatbread.  It's the right shape, but it's really not a tortilla and should never be used as one.  The beans?  Well, the were refried pintos, but not the ultra delicious type found in the Bay area.  No, these refried beans tasted like the beans from one of those little bean and cheese freezer burritos you stick in the microwave when you are all out of more edible food.  The chicken?  Well, there was a lot of it, and it was pretty tasty I guess, but the spices were all wrong.
Look at the picture above one more time.  See that brown-purpley mess next to the "burrito?"  What the hell is that?  Is it supposed to be Mexican food, too?  It's a sort of pickled onion and pepper pile.  I don't get it.
Over all, the above pictured was an edible, but not wonderful meal.  It was the most expensive meal I've had in a while, maybe since I was in London four months ago.  I'm not sorry I had the experience.  I was curious so I tried it.  But you know what?  I'm sticking with 1,50€ döner and 2€ pizza, thank you very much.
The food in Berlin, German and Turkish alike, is FANTASTIC, but I'll save my taco-time for this June and July when I'm working in San Francisco.

The King of Pop kills the Devil, Oranienstraße, Kreuzberg


  1. ah ah. I totally know what place you're talking about. I'm glad you tried it. Perhaps I should send you some frozen burritos in the mail?
    Thanks for sharing. ANd I love that you put the word 'beans' as one of your labels!

  2. Lavash as a stand in for a tortilla? This is a food crime! I wonder how the pumpkin one was? At least I've never had pumpkin done up Mexican so maybe it could fool me. But still, this isn't fucking Lebanon ya fucker, it's Mexico! Get yourself a tortillera and earn your Mexicali stripes!