Atlanta is full of Mexican't dumps that targets the gringos' pedestrian and fragile palate... The roundeyes love them some LatinX white queso, pulverized guacamole, quesadilluhs, ground beef, fajitas, hard shell and flour tortilla tacos... Basically, nothing authentic or spicy. I'm not saying that shit is bad... It's like slutty Chino grub, we all know that garbage ain't real Chinese food but when you're drunk, hungover or high as a motherfucker, a General Tso's cheekan with thick cloying HFCS brown sauce with crappy fried rice and a fried cheekan wing on the side tastes like heaven. That's the same with Mexican't grub, it's slutty moistback comidas... And it has it place in society. Finding a decent semi-authentic Mexican joint intown is an adventure.
I was riding around Avondale and missed my turn on North Clarendon Ave and I went past the Stratford Pub... I mean nobody ever goes east past the Stratford unless you made a mistake.. Lord knows I have made many wrong turns in my measly life, all of them mistakes and the big guy never throws me a bone. But this turned out to be a good mistake because I noticed a new-ish Mexi joint just a block down called Santo Cantina. I'm like sheeeeeit, what is this place? I need to investigate... It's a cute little place and y'all know that the smaller the dump, the better the food... Well, usually... Let's go take a first look... OK, first off, I must admit that the gringo at the table really really wanted the white queso so we got it and I shoulda took a picture of it but I didn't want to make fun of him because that would be mean... Because the Pouch is such a sweetheart... (cue vomit noise).
Birria Tacos (Jalisco), crispy tacos with spiced beef stew, served with Jalisco au jus. Ah fuck... When I saw this on the menu, it was a no-brainer. C'mon, man, how can you not get the most trendy taco in this one horse town... The birria "wet" taco has become legendary status the last couple years in da ATL. It comes with the standard accoutrements... Let's take a closer look at this Mexi moist meat flap...
Why do all tacos remind me of my ex's... That's because I had low standards... Did I say that out loud? Eh, fuck it, no one reads this garbage blog anyways, it's like talking to my wall nightly, no one will hear a word. But look at this specimen, it's actually quite lovely. Look at that cheese oozing out but yet firm and holding together. Dipped it in the "au jus" and took a bite... Not too shabby. The au jus wasn't all that flavorful but it did it's job. The birria taco was pretty good, the savory stewed shredded beef with the cheese and the solid corn tortilla held together well and took each bite like a champ without falling all apart. I don't know what's going on with that salsa verde thingy but I poured a little bit on it and it really didn't do anything to enhance the taste. This version is better than most found intown... I tried the one at Antiguo Lobo in Chamblee but it wasn't worthy of a solo review, meh.
Rice and Refried Beans. These two ubiquitous sides that come with every gringo combo meal are usually bland and flavorless, their sole purpose is to fill and expand in your pouch and give you a Mexi muffin top... Hmm, now I know why so many LatinaX's have a FUPA like this fat chode. Let's get back on track here, Pouch... I tell y'all what, these two side were really good, the rice was seasoned very well and the refried beans didn't taste like it came out of a lead lined can, even if it did. WTF is wrong with you, Pouch? You're gushing about fucking rice and beans... So? I have empathy for low rent filler..
Mole Ojo Rojo with chicken (breast or leg and thigh), sesame, onion, sour cream, grated fresh panela cheese, Mexican rice, refried beans. Holy mole, this was a pretty nice presentation. It's a nice change to see a Mexi joint that puts thought and care on plating their dishes in a visually appetizing way. Most places just slop it on the well worn plate, throw it in the oven for 5 minzies and send it out piping hot to kill any residual bacteria from last week's leftovers mixed in with the new batch. I know it's Mexi grub but it looks clean, fresh and vibrant. The gringo got this with.. What else? Breasts instead of the leg and thigh which we all know is way more flavorful... But I digress, roundeyes fucking love cheekan breasts. I had to have a taste of this... Even with the breasts, it was quite tender and the thick mole did a great job on enhancing the bland white meat. I'm going to order this next time with leg and thigh and I already know it will be 10 times better.
Baja Fish Tacos, lettuce, tomato, habanero cream. Fish tacos are always hit or miss. Grilled fish tacos always comes out broken apart and pain to eat with everything falling out... So, fried has been my default ever since. I think they said it was Mahi-Mahi and they offer them in corn or flour tortilla, I asked for one of each because fatties like variety. They give you a decent amount of fish in each taco. But somehow the habanero cream only made it on one taco and the other was totally naked with a little monkey dish of some salsa-esque to put on it. I think the cook plating this was snorting lines on the line... I may need a bump, ese. I like the double ply of corn tortilla but their corn tortillas are pretty sturdy already. The single ply flour tortilla is standard issue. The fried fish was seasoned pretty well and it was crispy, the breading was not too thick which is always preferred. It's a very decent fish taco but I would try their other dishes before reordering these, again.
I like this place, it's a local mom & pop shop that seems like it's getting good support from the community. It's pricey than most Mexi joints but the quality is a lot better. If you want a cheap speedy Gonzalez combo, go to La Parilla, El Azteca, El Ponce, On the Border or the handful of other Mexican't joints littered across the Atlanta landscape. With the record high inflation, you may not be going every week but once a month is totally doable.
Pump pump... Ole!
31N S Avondale Plaza
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
**BONUS Footnote Review-
Antiguo Lobo- Birria Tacos. I wasn't in love with this place but the sloppy birria tacos were acceptable if you needed a quick gringo taco fix (the service sucks ass)... I came here after I drank myself silly at DOMA (Distillery of Modern Art) around the block. DOMA fucking ROCKS. Lobo fucking lazy.