I admit it- I can be, more often then I care to think about, a food snob. I recognized this clearly back in college. A group of friends and I were driving back from a weekend in Canada, and we were starving on our drive through Vermont. Finally we saw the long awaited fork and knife sign signaling a food establishment off of the next exit. We hurriedly pulled off of the high way, and a few miles down a rather desolate street we came upon the food stop. It was an old building, rusty, with a decrepit sign. We were a divided foursome in the car- the other girl and I flatly refused to go in, the boys desperately just wanting food urged us, claiming that “it couldn’t be that bad!”. We held our ground, the boys finally backed down, and on ward we traveled, looking for anything that looked better, even toying with the idea of slaughtering one of the cows from a passing farm and building a fire. We found a SubWay about a half an hour later. We rejoiced.
As I’ve grown older, I hate to admit, I’ve gotten worse. Fast food is well off my list of indulgences, and so stopping for a snack along a long stretch of high way normally means some sort of air tight, sealed bag of something. I would never, ever, eat a hot dog from a convenience store roller. I admit it, I am a food snob. However, as of last Thursday, I may need to re evaluate. I ate food from a gas station, and I loved every bite of it.
Over the past year or so I have heard nothing but praises sung about the small Mexican establishment named Villa Mexico located on Cambridge Street in Beacon Hill, in, you guessed it, a gas station. I have heard so much that is good about this little hole in the wall that I didn’t think it was possible for it to live up to the hype.
The ladies, as reported, were incredibly nice and helped me navigate their menu. I had been told to get a burrito, and a side of their salsa as it is “best in the city”. Now Ive never been a big fan of burritos and I wanted a bit of a variety with my order so I decided to get their tacos, served two per order, and requested one with their marinated beef, and one with their mole poblano chicken. I must note at this point, that Villa Mexico strongly prefers that you order two of the same tacos, but in my utter confusion of ordering, the very kind ladies allowed me to break the rules that once. My tacos were served with lettuce, tomato, cheese and a side of salsa. I went ahead, bit the bullet, and ordered a side of chips and salsa as well. It was a wise decision.
The tacos were nice and light, the marinated beef very nicely seasoned, and really well offset with the creamy melted cheese, fresh lettuce and tomatoes. I do wish that the mole on the chicken had been a bit thicker as I lost a bit of the flavor of that, but it too was tasty. What I loved most about the tacos were the soft shells. They were homemade, and perfect as simply a carrier of ingredients. With no overpowering flavor of their own, even salt was lacking, they allowed the flavors of the meat and cheese to shine forth and be appreciated. I, of course, didn’t quite notice the little container of salsa served with the tacos as I sat in my picnic setting, but honestly, I’m a bit glad that I didn’t. Next time I go I will happily slather it on to my main course, but this time it may have distracted from the purity of my tacos.
On that note, the salsa was amazing. Dark brown in color, which was surprising, it surprised in other ways as well. Nicely spicy, wonderfully enhanced with vinegar, only slightly chunky, I spent my time wishing I had gotten the large side as opposed to the small so that I could use the salsa in my next week of recipes. It really was the best in the city, fresh and delicious- I might stop just for it in the future.
Now, I can’t say that I have any intention of eating a hot dog from a convenience store in the near future, however, I have learned my lesson. There is some amazing food in gas stations- if you know where to look for it, and are willing to take a chance. Villa Mexico, I tribute you with my conversion.