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Beyond the burrito

Craving Mex without the Tex? Berlin's never been known for its amazing Mexican food, but that may be about to change. These five restos are as authentic as you're gonna get.

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Photo by Danilo Sierra
Over the past five years, handmade tortillas, fiery salsas and Sahne-free guacamole have been replacing the stale, generic Tex-Mex fare Berliners once called ‘Mexican’. Here are five great places to get the real thing. Papalotl: Boasting a “100 percent Tex-Mex free” menu, Mauricio Acosta’s Prenzl’Berg restaurant couples a cosy environment with contemporary, gourmet dishes. His speciality: complex mole sauces served over high-quality meats, with prices to match. Rib-eye argentinian beef comes with deep, unique buttermole, a delicious chillibased ‘gravy’ (€17.20); a seabass fillet is slathered in pineapple- habanero butter and pomegranate seeds alongside French wild rice and green beans (€15). Belforter Str. 22, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Tue-Sun 18-1
Ta’Cabrón: In addition to reliably decent antojitos (we’re partial to the chicken tinga in crunchy fried corn quesadillas, €4.50), Paco Franco and Joaqín Robredo’s mini-franchise turns out specials like pozole (corn soup), ceviche and the occasional “Ta’CaBRUNCH” breakfast buffet. And don’t be surprised to find a cumbia or Mexican rock concert if you visit the Friedrichshain location on a weekend night… Wühlischstr. 12, Friedrichshain, S-Bhf Ostkreuz; Skalitzer Str. 60, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schlesisches Tor, Mon-Thu, Sun 13-23, Fri-Sat 13-3
Chaparro: Open just over a year, Raul Oliver’s no-frills joint serves real-deal tacos and burritos – your best bet is beef barbacoa (€5.20), cooked on a stovetop instead of traditionally buried in a pit but packing tremendous flavour thanks to a guajillo marinade. For the home version, pick up a package of Oliver’s homemade tortillas and a jar of habanero salsa on the way out. Wiener Str. 15a, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Görlitzer Park, Mon-Sun 12-close
Taco Kween: Jorge Armando mans the comal at Bite Club and prepares more elaborate four-course meals once a month at gallery Team Titanic in Neukölln. If tender cochinita pibil (Yucatecan stewed pork) on tiny hecho a mano tortillas (3/€4.50) doesn’t set your mouth watering, try veggie specials like mushroom-zucchini tacos and piña al pastor (grilled, spiced pineapple with melted cheese). http://www.facebook.com/TacoKweenBerlin
Tortilla Atomica: Adan Narvaez’ roving stand serves the Platonic ideal of tacos: greasy-in-a-goodway al pastor-style pork bound lime, cilantro, onion and mouth-scorching salsa roja in a tasty if thin homemade tortilla (ask for two!). Tempted? Your best bet is to have a taco or two for €2 each at Markthalle IX’s Street Food Thursdays, then head to neighbouring Maizkin for one of Velegui Saavedra’s all-bio corn tamales (€4). Markthalle IX, Eisenbahnstr. 42/43, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Görlitzer Bahnhof, Thu 17-22