Mexican food, as many Americans know it, is very cheesy, not texturally pleasing, and the freshest ingredients aren’t always used. Additionally, many of the dishes have no real cultural foundation in Mexican cooking. For me, Mexican cooking must use fresh ingredients, well spiced meats, and hot chiles as the foundation.
Taqueria Mi Pueblo is on Dix Highway in Detroit. A traditional Mexican restaurant in the heart of the Hispanic section of town, Mi Pueblo has been serving the community for years and doing it well, too. Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was the clientele – all Hispanic/Mexican/Latino. Usually when an ethnic restaurant is filled with people of the same ethniticity, it is doing something right. Second, the menu was in 2 languages – another good sign.
I’ve been looking forward to try Mi Pueblo ever since Rico’s Market on Gration closed down. Rico’s made excellent tongue tacos and I was at a loss for finding other places that served them. A tip from a friend who used to live next door to me pointed to Mi Pueblo.
We’ll get to the tongue tacos eventually, but first we start with the shredded pork botana.
The pork was seasoned perfectly – slightly spicy, but not too much for Heather and Laila, who both like mildly spicy foods. It was fall apart tender as well. As mentioned above, I’m not a huge fan of slathering cheese on top to hide imperfections. In this case, the cheese was a welcome addition and it didn’t overwhelm the dish. The veggies were all fresh, except the jalapenos, which were pickled. This is a pet peeve of mine – I love fresh jalapenos, but it is extremely rare to see them served in Mexican restaurants. Why don’t more places serve fresh peppers? Imagine fresh jalapenos, serranos, and habaneros at your local taco place – that would be incredible.
My dinner plate consists of pig stomach, beef tongue, chopped onion and cilantro, spanish rice, and refried beans. Notice there is no cheese on the plate, rather a lime is on the plate to cut the richness of the meats. This was my first time trying pig stomach and I was delightfully surprised. The texture is definitely not for everyone – it is kind of like a steamed bacon so slimy and chewy with a very faint pork flavor. The tongue was supremely tender, much more so than Rico’s ever was. Very beefy and rich, tongue is a decadent treat and the lime, onions, and cilantro make for perfect additions to the taco. A pleasantly spicy hot sauce was also served with this dish. We also ordered 3 varieties of tamales as a side dish. Puerco, pollo, and fresca – puerco had pork and chile verde, pollo had chicken with red mole sauce, and fresca was strawberry with pineapple chunks. All were good, but the strawberry one wins the prize for odd color. The rice and beans were also very good and could stand up on their own as a main dish. If there is one flaw in the dish, it was the tortillas. They were soggy and tasted reheated. A small complaint given the absolute lusciousness of meats.
Speaking of luscious, what followed was quite possibly one of the finest desserts I’ve ever had.
Tres Leches cake is a yellow cake that has punctured and then has 3 kinds of milk (whole, condensed, and evaporated) poured into it. It is tremendously moist and dense. Mi Pueblo’s version has a wonderful caramel flavor and a perfect consistency. I was absolutely amazed at how wonderful this cake is. Even though I was full from dinner, I still found room to put away half of a very large piece (and finished the rest later in the evening at home).
A couple additional notes: I ordered horchata (a Mexican rice drink) to drink. It tasted like rice pudding, but had the consistency of skim milk. It was actually quite refreshing and was a nice foil to some of the heat present in the dishes. The wait staff was very friendly and helpful. Our waiter asked me after he brought my plate out if I was sure that I wanted what I’d ordered. I assured him it was fine and I was overjoyed to be eating there.
Overall, a wonderful experience – one that I fully intend to revisit many more times in the coming months.