Restaurant Review: El Mexicano: Authetnic food for omnivores, tequila and Spanish lessons for vegans

Posted by Erin Dillon

In recent years, the world of fine dining has diverged from its glorification of French technique to embrace ethnic flavors and cultural fusion. Cuisines like Latin, African and Indian are no longer blue-collar food choices, but serve as palettes on which acclaimed chefs craft their inventive, worldly creations. As a result, ethnic restaurants have become mainstream, even in landlocked cities like Saratoga Springs. This town boasts a slew of ethnic restaurants despite its relatively homogenous racial population; from Japanese to Spanish to Belgian to Turkish, Saratoga offers an abundance of dining options.

Sadly, with a growing demand for global food, the term "authentic" tends to mean the opposite. (Why would sushi be "authentic" 6,000 miles from Japan? And can genuine jam??n ib??rico really come from the back of a Sysco truck?)

Thankfully, one establishment still adheres to the Webster definition of "authentic." El Mexicano, although not quite a Michelin-star restaurant, does not lie by claiming to serve "The Best Authentic Mexican Food in New York."

As a vegan from Maine, I might be unqualified to judge the authenticity of Mexican cuisine. However, my palate can discern a foil-wrapped Chipotle burrito from a dish of rice, beans and tortillas that seems to have been cooked over an open fire at a Mexican hacienda. El Mexicano serves the latter, prepared, presumably, the way mom used to make it. The restaurant serves simple, comforting plates generous enough to fuel a ranchero (or a scrawny Skidmore student). Although El Mexicano's dishes may lack in innovation, zest and molecular gastronomy, they also lack frills. You will go home satisfied from an honest meal.

Walking into El Mexicano induces a sort of sensory overload that soon fades into an endearingly festive ambiance. The space is colorful and well-lit,

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