Mexican food's final frontier in Paris

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mexican food's final frontier in Paris

Their workers are enormous...
I’ve never eaten at Candelaria.  I like their cocktails, but honestly I’d prefer a 3 euro pint of beer to 12 euro’s worth of gin and syrup.  El Guacamole is good, but for that price I’d rather have a something more than three small tacos.  And I like El Nopal even if it’s messy to eat along the Canal, it’s just not as portable as a falafel.  Mexican food and tacos have made inroads in Paris, much to expatriates’ delight, but it just doesn’t do it for me.

Mexican food can be amazing, there’s no doubt.  But from the boy that grew up in suburban Philadelphia, it was something we’d get for my brother’s birthday dinner or on the way home from piano lessons.  From, yes, Taco Bell, to the one local Mexican restaurant down the street that served up some mean fajitas, “Mexican” always amounted to a sort of comfort food, something regular, normal, familiar, accessible, delicious.  Seeing three tiny tacos for more than ten euros is jarring for someone who would meet friends for late night 69 cent tacos at Taco Bell in the suburbs (even if meat was on par with dog food). 

When I go to El Guacamole, it misses the mark for me completely.  Much like paying 14 euros for a “gourmet” hamburger, Parisian tacos seem like a scam to me.  I don’t want my hamburgers and tacos to become classier than I am (even if they are delicious).

That’s what I was secretly excited that the Chipotle storefront will be open soon on Boulevard Montmartre.  It will join the ranks of copycat burrito joints on rue Mouffetard, including the one that just replaced Katz’s American-style deli and others near the Grands Boulevards.  American expats looking for a taste of home will find Chipotle conveniently located next to a McDonald’s, a Starbucks, a Haagen Daz, and across from a Subway.  How’s that for globalization?

Is "gourmet" a stretch?
I say "yum"...

Will I go there to eat?  Probably not very often, but the idea of re-democratizing Mexican food (and in a familiar way) is comforting to me.  Chipotle, the Mexican go-to for a student in New York, is not the best food ever.  It’s tasty, fresh, and affordable, but underneath all of that it’s familiar for me (though maybe not for people used to “real” Mexican food).

For a reckless expat filling up on baguettes and the occasional slab of Roquefort, sometimes it’s nice to go get that inexpensive yet enormous, blog-worthy-less burrito bowl full of refried beans and chicken with spicy salsa and just call it a night.


  1. when Jami and I visit, we will go to disneyland and chipotle and it will be glooorioouusss!

  2. That sounds wonderful. I'll teach you all necessary translations!

  3. Chipotle in Paris? How frightening! Although I occasionally miss Mexican food in Paris, McChipotle doesn't stack up to all the taquerias I grew up with in Chicago. Tant pis!

  4. What! Chipotle isn't open yet? I was in London last spring (2011) and stopped by Chipotle because I was starving for Mexican food in Paris, and the managers were saying that the Chipotle in Paris was going to open in September at the latest! Haha wow, French bureaucracy at its finest...

  5. I love Mexican dishes, I'll be sure to get me some later. Thanks.