30 Main Street, Burlington 802-658-9000
Vermont will never be like California or Texas. There are not a lot of Mexicans here, therefore, there's not a lot of authentic Mexican food. Or, for that matter, any authentic Mexican food.
I still get misty when I drive Shelburne Road and remember the earthy, sesame-speckled mole prepared by a real-live Oaxacan at the late, great La Carreta. But that era is over. I must sate myself with food prepared by gringos, and when I do, my choice is Miguel's on Main.
My meal at Miguel's began with homemade chips and some of the freshest, most flavorful salsa I've had in Vermont. The tomatoes and onions were seasoned with lots of lime and enough cilantro leaves to make for a day-glo taste. The saucy dip also had just enough spice to create a pleasant burn.
Most of us know carne asada as Mexican flank steak. It actually just means "roasted meat," and at Miguel's the dish (below right) is a combo platter. I call the mixed grill a mini trip to Souza's Brazilian Steakhouse, with a handsome chunk of beef, snappy chorizo and an enchilada. At my meal on Sunday, the steak was cooked beautifully medium rare, but was slightly chewy, not expected of a flank steak. The rugged-tasting beef was drizzled with a sour cream sauce and lots of herbs. The chorizo, plated in a comically phallic manner, reminded me at first bite of a juicy Nathan's hot dog. As I chewed, the spice of the thickly ground pork bloomed to an inferno. This was easily cooled by a taste of tangy carrot and jicama slaw, refried black beans or rice.
A cheese enchilada was a nice addition to the platter, though the sauce on top had dried to a crust. The cumin and chile powder-based punch worked better in a different dish, the chicken enchilada. The tortillas were filled with juicy little bites of meat which tasted of onions and citrus, a nice counterpoint to the deep, dark flavors of the red sauce. That meal also came with refried red beans, the same rice as the other dish and a small salad of iceberg lettuce and diced tomatoes.
I haven't tried it yet, but Miguel's has a mole on the menu. It now sits near the top of my to-eat list. Who knows, maybe soon, I'll miss La Carreta a little less.