An interesting aspect of Detroit that a lot of people overlook is the wide number of ethnic enclaves the area has. Some are fairly obvious, such as the semi-Polish Hamtramck, or the well-known Greektown. Others aren’t as familiar to out-of-towners, such as Dearborn (long-time home to a rather substantial Middle-Eastern population). And, indeed, one of the things that I like about Detroit is that it’s a good place to go for Mexican food. Where? Mexicantown! Yes, Detroit has a Mexican enclave!
Nestled in next to the more famous Corktown neighborhood (former home of Tiger Stadium, and home for the hulking derelict of Michigan Central Station), Mexican Town is oddly shaped and hard to define. The main thoroughfares of Mexicantown are Bagley and Vernor, but the neighborhood itself is approximately bounded by the Fisher Freeway and Fort St on the South, Clark Park on the West, St Anne on the East, and the Michigan Central railyard on the north (feel free to argue this one, I’m interested in hearing other interpretations of the boundaries…). But Vernor and Bagley are where most of the food interest is. Among these streets are dozens of Mexican restaurants (most of them still vaguely authentic, albeit many of them also catering to the Chi-Chi’s crowd), tortilla factories (indeed, the smell of baking masa is one of the ways you can tell you are in Mexicantown), vibrant murals in Spanish, and more than a few Hispanic grocery stores. It’s certainly an interesting neighborhood to explore, with many good restaurants.
But for us, our travels to Mexicantown brought us there in the middle of the morning, so we were looking for a place where I could indulge in a good, solid Mexican breakfast. However, at 9am most of Mexicantown’s places aren’t yet open. However, a few places do cater to the breakfast crowd, including Taqueria Lupitas and Evie’s Tamales. After looking around a bit, we ended up settling on Taqueria Lupitas.
Inside, Taqueria Lupitas is a bit dated, with some slightly dark leather booths and several tables in the middle of the restaurant. We were looking for breakfast, and the menu at Lupitas was just what we wanted; at 9am they’ve got a pretty decent breakfast menu, including all of their tacos (over a dozen types, including some of my favorites like tacos cabezas), huevos con chorizo, huevos rancheros, and even chilaquiles (which are pretty close to the perfect hangover food). Since I’d been really craving some good chorizo, I opted for the huevos con chorizo (as did Carol), while enjoying the rather nice spread of salsas they dropped off with some chips.
Well, I chose wisely. This was definitely a good huevos dish, starting with a nice, spicy chorizo that was nicely browned, and freshly scrambled with some eggs to perfection. I’m always a little hesitant getting egg dishes, since often places will make up a giant batch of eggs beforehand (by which point you get it, it’s descended into the world of stale sulfur), but Taqueria Lupitas was obviously making this to order (indeed, I could hear the slaps of the spatula on the flat-top as they were making it). The rest of the dish was good as well. The rice was good and flavorful. The beans were just the way I like them, recooked to the point where they are just barely falling apart, instead of mush. And the tortillas were excellent, tasting fresh, as if they were made just down the street (indeed, I suspect they were).
I’ll want to try Lupitas again for tacos, since those appeared to be every bit as good as the breakfast.