Within the last few years, St. Louis has been lucky enough to experience an explosion of Mexican cuisine, with new restaurants popping up offering both authentic and modern options. Cherokee Street in particular has gained a well-deserved reputation for serving as the epicenter, but our collective craving for chips and salsa, taqueria fare and top-shelf margaritas has spread out across the city -- by the time you read this, a new taco shop will have probably opened up. In fact there are so many worthy contenders for Best Mexican, we had tough time selecting our ten favorites. Nevertheless, here's a helpful list of places to start.
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Chava's (925 Geyer Avenue; 314-241-5503)
Fresh salsa and tortilla chips in abundance get things started, and ten different margarita flavors get it finished. Chava's menu keeps things short and to the point: tacos, a fajita platter, a burrito, an enchilada, a tostada and the like. The fajita platter and its close appetizer cousins (fajita quesadilla and fajita nachos) are sizzling-steak standouts, as are tacos de Guadalajara, a pair of flash-fried flour tortillas clamped around seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion and a clever blend of grated Monterey and Parmesan cheeses. One of our favorite dishes here, though, is the vegetable quesadilla. Literally bursting with veggies, this baby packs flavor. You'll find carrots, zucchini, green beans, onions, baby corn and red, yellow and green peppers.
La Vallesana (2801 Cherokee Street; 314-776-4223)
Next time you find yourself sitting on La Vallensana's outside patio watching the residents of Cherokee Street stroll by, order up tacos al pastor: that's smoked pork, grilled pineapple, onion and cilantro on corn tortillas topped with fiery red or green salsa -- trust us on this. But if you can't live by tacos al pastor alone? Try a burrito with spicy chorizo or an overfilled torta sandwich that deliver the goods and then some. Finish up with a dish of homemade ice cream or paletas, sweet Mexican popsicles made with fresh fruit that will cool off your taste buds.
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