Fresno's Always Got Time for Mexican Food

Carrie Bell
Chicken mole from Los Amigos

What sat before me in the lone Mexican restaurant in Galway was an abomination. 

I was on the tail end of my first trip to Ireland and found myself madly craving a taco, burrito, enchilada, or anything remotely associated with the predominant cuisine of my Californian life. Having been born and raised in Fresno—where my father, a vice principal, was routinely thanked by parents with a stack of tamales, where friends’ stovetops were always filled with bubbling batches of menudo, and where children practically come out of the womb declaring their allegiance to Tapatío, Tabasco, or Cholula—Mexican food consumption was a weekly occurrence at minimum. That trend continued as I settled in Los Angeles as an adult, and it meant that by the end of a long trip abroad, the withdrawals started to kick in, and I needed a hit of habanero and a bump of beans and rice.

So there I was, in this popular nightspot, staring at a bowl of a drippy pureed light green substance they claimed was guacamole. Besides the fact that there was zero tomato, onion, cilantro, or citrus kick, it tasted weird. Familiar even, but I couldn’t place it. I inquired. “Uh, I think it’s a blend of avocado and mayonnaise,” the waitress said and walked away.

I learned two very important lessons that day: that all Mexican food is not created equal, and that I had been gastronomically spoiled by growing up at the southern end of the Central Valley in the Golden State, where farms and ranches supply fresh produce and meat, and half the population is of Latin descent. 

Sure, the cuisine’s representation has gotten better as the world becomes increasingly connected. I’m guessing even that spot in Galway, if it’s still around, has stopped making that egregious attempt at one of Mexico’s most important condiments. But a different problem has percolated. #TacoTuesday has been advertised and hashtagged into the national zeitgeist. We get it. It’s catchy. But why should tacos get to have all the fun? 

Other dishes deserve their own day to be devoured, too—especially given the wide range of exceptional south-of-the-border grub being whipped up by local businesses in Fresno and its surrounding areas. 

It’s time to rethink your culinary calendar and spread the love. With these new daily designations, you can feed your hankering for Mexican food all week long.

Mole Monday

Two Mexican states, Puebla and Oaxaca, claim this decadent sauce as their own and have passed down origin stories. There are multiple versions of the sauce, but chocolate and chiles are often the common denominator.

Los Amigos

The restaurant smothers chicken in a spicy sauce made with chiles, nuts, spices, and chocolate.

El Patio

Enmoladas is what happens when this Tower District spot takes chicken, beef, or cheese enchiladas and dips them in mole.

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