Authentic Mexican at Three Amigos

International Food Tour Stop #2: Three Amigos in Plaza Midwood (Central Avenue)

(check out my first stop at Austin’s Caribbean here)

My fondest experience with true Mexican cuisine was the summer after my freshmen year in college when I traveled to Dallas, Texas for the National Youth Soccer Championship.  When I say true Mexican cuisine I’m not talking yellow cheese smothered, sour cream topped quesadillas, triple-layered nachos, or stuffed to the brim burritos.  I’m talking about fresh ingredients, soft corn tortillas, complex spices, chile peppers, braised meats, fresh salsas and cotija cheese.  In Dallas, servers brought whole ripe avocados right to the table, lightly mashed them, and added just the right amount of onions, cilantro, tomatoes, salt, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice to make guacamole.  The pure flavor of the avocados shined, while the other ingredients played a background role meant to highlight the star ingredient.  Tortilla chips were all house made, and came to the table hot out of the fryer.  Tacos were served on doubled-up soft corn tortillas with slow cooked meats and minimal toppings meant to preserve the true taste of the meat.  Salsas were all freshly made with the unique flavor of various chile peppers playing a star role throughout all the dishes.  When I think of authentic Mexican food, that’s what I think of.  Not fake yellow cheese and sour cream covering my plate, not fried chimichanga’s and triple gorditas, but fresh ingredients, spices, herbs, chile peppers, and the preservation of ingredients.

Searching for authentic Mexican, I headed down Central Avenue where Charlotte’s multicultural neighborhoods contribute to a vibrant global food scene.  Three Amigos Mexican Grill is a truly authentic Mexican restaurant that prides itself on using of fresh ingredients in daily preparations and staying true to Mexico’s flavors, seasonings, and style of cooking.

I often judge the authenticity of a Mexican restaurant on their tacos.  Tacos are a humble, traditional dish served all over in Mexico in everything from street corner carts and food trucks to restaurants and family homes.  Also, I pretty much order tacos at every Mexican restaurant I go to, so tacos it was.

tacos pastor: seasoned, grilled pork served on soft corn tortillas with cilantro and onions

The soft corn tortillas were just slightly charred to give them a nice contrast of softness and slight crunch.  The pork was deliciously seasoned and tenderly grilled.  The humble accompaniment of cilantro and onion was all you needed to complete these tacos.  If however, you are not just a taco addict, but salsa addict as well, feel free to douse with Three Amigos’ house made tomato salsa.  I will be back for these without a doubt.

And the best pico de gallo I’ve ever had.  Boom.

I couldn’t get over the taste of this pico.  So many different flavors, just the right amount of acid, and a spicy kick.  I know I keep saying fresh, but fresh in the full sense of the word is the best way to describe this dish.  Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, scallions, salt, pepper, and pickled jalapenos all came together in perfect crunchy, spicy harmony.  Not to mention the warm tortilla chips with a nice sprinkling of house seasoning.  Easily polished off.  Do not leave without trying the pico de gallo.

I can’t say enough about how much I cherish the fact that I am eating authentic Mexican tacos and pico prepared by a Mexican cook.  The true flavors and styles of Mexico shine in the dishes at Three Amigos.  I can’t wait to eat my way through that menu and you should too.

Next time you’re craving Mexican, skip the Americanized version and venture outside your comfort zone to get yourself some real Mexican food.  You won’t be disappointed.

Three Amigos on Urbanspoon

Up next…a break from international goodness to highlight some of the Queen City’s finest during Restaurant Week.

My stops: George’s Brasserie and Aria Tuscan Grille


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