Over the last fifteen or so years, we have been fortunate in Bucks County to enjoy an increasing number of authentic (not Chili’s) Mexican restaurants. We’ve decided to do a round-up of them, beginning with Los Sarapes , which is fitting, since they were the first really authentic Mexican restaurant in Bucks, way back in the ’90’s.
I remember when they first opened. They had taken over a pizza joint in Chalfont, with half the menu being American food and half being Mexican, as if to hedge their bets (“A Mexican place in Chalfont??”). Having had great Mexican food in the southwestern U.S., I was thrilled and became a regular patron (there is five pounds on my body directly attributable to those years and my weekly visits to Los Sarapes).
Here is Emily’s review of her recent visit.
by guest blogger Emily Trostle
I do not like Mexican food. Actually, I should rephrase that: I dislike “Mexican” food according to my perception of it.
When I think of Mexican food, all I picture is bland, mushy beans, dried out, crunchy rice, and floppy, soggy flour tortillas. Unfortunately, I sometimes even associate it with Taco Bell. This barbaric and false representation of Mexican food is where I get my Mexican food ick-factor from.
But, I know that to be a good and credible food blogger, I cannot dismiss the food stylings of an entire nation.
After hours of watching Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations this weekend, I couldn’t help myself. I needed a food challenge, something new, something almost frightening. This is when I decided to leave my comfort zone and go to a Mexican restaurant.
Enter Los Sarapes. It’s a colorful, welcoming Mexican restaurant where people go for good food and lots of margaritas. Our server ends up being a fellow that I became acquaintances with during my 3rd shift stint at Wawa during my senior year of college. Seeing a familiar face put me a little more at ease and gave me more confidence about the food adventure to ensue.
We quickly ordered beer (Dos Equis Amber). Browsing the menu, I noticed that all the items that usually turn me off to Mexican (beans and rice, beans and rice, beans and rice) were certainly there, but they’re served with real meat, fresh vegetables and authentic sauces. While I had already checked out the menu online and had picked out my dinner decision (Pablano Mole!), we decided to go big when we found out the special of the day was a whole Red Snapper fried and then stuffed with crab, shrimp, cuddle fish, oysters, scallops, octopus, mussels, and tilapia. HELLO!
For a small appetizer and to try something of the regular menu, we decided upon Banderillas Ahogadas, or, Taquitos. Being familiar with only the ones you buy frozen and then have the option of either baking or nuking, these turned out to be quite a delight. About three inches long, they were perfect for two polite bites or one ambitious one. Down one side, a red, tomatoey, acidic but sweet and still spicy sauce; down the other, a green fruity but really spicy green sauce. I also ordered a cup of Caldo Xochitl. A super clear broth soup, it contained chicken, vegetables and rice which made it feel homey. The lime and cilantro gave it an extremely fresh, tangy, herbal aspect that balanced the spice. For those wary of heat, I would suggest the mild option of this soup. It’s a tasty hot, but it continues to build as you consume the soup.
Then… the main course. Our Snapper came out propped up on his belly with stuffing flowing out if his back. On one side was a pile of rice and more seafood, the other side boasted a fresh spring mix salad with light, citrusy vinaigrette. Wes, my boyfriend, looked into its green olive eyes for a second, not quite sure what to do (recall, he’s the cheesesteak aficionado). After some instruction and demonstration on my part, he was more than willing to strip every bone clean. We dug out the pleasantly seasoned stuffing; I shredded off some fried skin to crunch on, Wes took all the rice and left only salad. The snapper was very mildly flavored, which is to be expected. The best way I found to devour the poor guy was to take good amount of flesh, some of the stuffing, a little bit of rice, and some of the salad and mix it all together, squeeze a lime over it and enjoy. This created the difference in textures and flavors and sensations that I love about food.
The whole fish experience went as smoothly as I could’ve hoped. I pushed myself to territories within food that I was neither comfortable nor familiar with and was greatly rewarded. I understand it can often feel like a gamble when going to a new restaurant or trying an entirely foreign (to you) type of food, but foodies should want to challenge themselves and create these amazing experiences. I don’t know if Los Sarapes is the best and most authentic Mexican food available in Bucks County but for someone like me who’s unsure or just curious, it’s a slam dunk.
17 Moyer Road
Chalfont, PA 18914
Tell us where your favorite Mexican restaurant is in Bucks or nearby. Let us know what you like best about it.
Photos by Emily Trostle.