As the cuisine couture hots up in the city, a variety of joints struggle to find a niche. The latest entrant in Versova is Amigos — a Tex-Mex restaurant that takes on its neighbour WTF! with affordable alcohol and more than just finger-food.
Food historians tell us TexMex cuisine originated hundreds of years ago when Spanish-Mexican recipes combined with English fare. TexMex, as the world knows it today, is a twentieth century phenomenon. When we entered Amigos it was LOUD. There was an outdoor booth and bar section to sit on and an air-conditioned interior with booths galore. Sadly, the volume was much higher inside and the decibels grated on our nerves after awhile.
We were seated next to a shiny blue Neon arrow sign that flickered like it was an original prop left over from Frank Millers’ Sin City. We tried to get used to it but failed. The server suggested that Amigos prides themselves on their Margaritas. The bar had a margarita machine that shakes and pours flavoured margaritas into the glasses. We ordered the Passion Fruit Margarita (Rs 375).
The drink arrived quickly. It was a simple and effective Margarita with passion fruit flavours thrown in. However, as we reached the bottom of the glass, it got too sweet to handle, and we were forced to order a beer to even out the taste.
The Pineapple Fresca (Rs 115) was nothing more than fruit blended with sugar, water, and a squeeze of citrus; this refreshing drink is served throughout Mexico, at both street carts and restaurants and Amigos does a decent job of it. But it could have been smoother, sans the flaky pineapple and we missed the traditional mint springs that go with it. Also, the mocktail was served in a very boring glass — a la water glasses. Lack of presentation killed the visual appeal and psychosomatically, altered the taste too.
In the appetisers, we ordered the Chips (Rs 95). The homemade corn tortilla chips with two salsas (Mexican and roasted jalapeño). The chips were definitely worth ordering and had a more pronounced corn flavor than the store-bought variations. The only grouse here is that the crispness wasn’t consistent. While chips will continue to crisp as they cool, some just stay leathery.
The Mexican Salsa accompanying it was spicy. The roasted jalapeno was passable. The Mexican Pizza (Rs 195) topped with Lamb Chilli — (Rs 95) was a crunchy thin crust 10” pizza made with Amigos signature dough and topped with tangy tomato sauce, mozzarella and choice of toppings. The dough was extraordinary. It was crisp without offering a burnt taste and delicious. Sadly, the toppings came off the pizza too easily. The pizza was very un-American, which was a good thing for a Tex-Mex — but keep the toppings on, guys.
Finally, the Empanadas (Rs 175) arrived. These deep fried turnovers were stuffed with refried beans, pico de gallo and a filling of your choice. It was served with Mexican salsa. We opted for the Beef Barbacoa (method of preparing meat; ‘barbecue’ derives its name from it). Let’s set one thing straight off the bat. What Amigos makes here has little to do with traditional Mexican or Caribbean barbacoa, a method in which whole sheep are slow-cooked in pits covered with maguey leaves. But we’ll excuse that. The Empanadas were tasty — slow-braised beef flavoured with chilis and cumin, it was tender and juicy on the inside but could be better seasoned to counter the bland taste of the meat.