Eric Rubin’s Journal: Virginia Continued

Mexican food in Virginia, aka more on East vs West

After a few trips to the East Coast (to be fair, Virginia only during these last trips), hands-down, no doubt about it, no rebuttal, the West Coast is way ahead of the East Coast when it comes to Tequila knowledge and appreciation.   Sure, it’s mainly our proximity to Mexico and the number of brands out West that are responsible for the difference.  But I think another reason is geographical.  Americans on the East Coast will most likely visit Cancun, Tulum, etc.  Americans on the West Coast are way more likely to visit resorts on the Pacific.  And where is Tequila produced?  That’s right, mainly in Jalisco, on the West Coast.  I realized this while talking to people in Virginia.   Not one of them that had traveled to Mexico had been to the Pacific coast.

The Tequila-producing regions of Mexico are on the West Coast near Guadalajara

Now on to food.   I had absolutely wonderful Mexican food in Virginia.  It was every bit the equal of what we have in California, and in many places was just as creative.  What can we attribute this to?  In the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area, where I was, almost all of the immigrants from Mexico are from Jalisco.  They are inter-connected via marriage, family, towns, even neighborhoods, and this seems to foster a closer connection to their food.  This connection, in turn, seems to have led to less dumbing-down (i.e. Tex-Mex’ing) of the food there.   And I loved the tie-in to local flavors.  A perfect example is from Chef Antonio at Taco Loco, where I had wonderful 24-hour cooked brisket tacos with local bacon and grilled avocado.   And the fish tacos were reminiscent of a version I’ve tried in Mexico; impeccably fresh fish on corn tortillas with some fresh salsa & crema.

Eric Rubin’s Journal: Colorado, Definitely a Tequila State

What a great trip I had to Colorado two weeks ago.  Sure, I drove across the Bay Bridge in 70 degree (February no less!) weather to land in Denver at minus 20.  But the trip was worth it.  We know Colorado has vibrant Mexican and Hispanic communities, and therefore great food.  But the truth is that many, heck most, old-school Mexican restaurants serve really bad drinks–more on this in an upcoming post.  For me, the real sign of Tequila culture catching on is when you go to your neighborhood bar and see a well thought out selection of 100% agave brands.  One of my favorites was in the Hi-Lo neighborhood.  An awesome vibe with a friendly, knowledgeable staff, and over 90 Tequilas.  Another was in Boulder, which was cocktail-driven with an excellent drink list.  I loved my añejo Manhattan there.  I’m definitely looking forward to my return visit.

Eric Rubin’s Journal: Homepage

To all of you trying to figure out which Tequila-related website is best, let me put in my vote for  Although many sites have great content, reviews, photos, and running dialog, upped the ante when they added a searchable database.  You can search by distillery name, product name, or even NOM number, definitely my favorite feature.  Their site also features a very user-friendly interface and is kept very current.   Congratulations to Darin and the crew for passing the one million visitor mark in 2010!