Mexican Izakaya: Mexican food in Japan

The one cuisine I miss the most here in Japan is good Mexican food. It is unfortunately quite difficult to find good Mexican cuisine here in Tokyo, but if you really search around and don't mind traveling a bit, you can find them!

I recently went out for a meal at Sol Amigo, so I'll share what the experience is like on this side of the planet. Particularly interesting is that this establisment bills itself as a Mexican izakaya. An izakaya is a Japanese-style drinking pub, usually known for having "nomihoudai" (all you can drink beer, highballs, whiskey sours, etc) and often more unique foods. So let's check it out.

You'll find Sol Amigo on a backstreet in Jinbocho, which is in Shin-Ochanomizu. Accessible from the Chiyoda subway line. A small unassuming sign leads you down to the basement where you'll find the restaurant.

Like many restaurants in Japan, smoking is permitted, and most guests will be doing so.

The experience starts off with your classic chips and salsa. The chips are fine, but the salsa's nothing to write home about. Still, it gets the job done.

Multiple screens in the venue were showing a boxing match between Japan and Mexico. Not quite UFC but still very decent entertainment during the meal.

We start off with some chicken hard-shell tacos. A classic, but not really authentic. More tex-mex hardshell rather than traditional doubled-up soft corn tortillas. So far things haven't gone too great, but thankfully the meal improves from this point on.

Ah yes, drinks. Now we're talking. A lemon sour and an Asahi beer to start things off with. Sours are drinks made with one part whiskey to four parts club soda, flavored with various things such as lemon in this case.

Next up are some soft-shell beef tacos. The beef is quite spicy and delicious, but one thing that happens often in Japan is instead of lettuce, you get cabbage. Cabbage is very common with meals here in Japan, but it's a very different experience from iceberg lettuce and in my personal opinion, doesn't blend well with tacos. Still, it gets the job done in a pinch.

Now things start to get really tasty: here we have Enchilladas de Papas. I am not sure who or what Papas is here, but it's a delicious cheese-covered enchillada with chicken inside of it, and topped with a copious amount of fries. Very much enjoyed.

 And the star of the meal is the traditional chicken enchilladas. Well, almost. These were listed as coming with potato filling, for which I expected cubed pieces of potato, but instead I was greeted with mashed potato filling:

I know, I know. It's Japan. They do things differently here as I said. But wow, I have to say, it absolutely works and with the chicken, cheese, and sauce, it's a solid 10/10 from me. I almost wanted to order a second round. But instead, I went for dessert and a lime sour.

The dessert was a banana xango, which for some reason was labeled as a banana chimichanga, but hey I don't mind. This was divine, and easily beats out the cheesecake-filling versions I'm used to in Tex-Mex in the US.

Overall, a great meal with great atmosphere. As for the damage? 6000 yen, or about $55, so expect to pay about $25-30 per person. Not exactly cheap, but you're paying for something that's exceptionally rare here. A few days of Matsuya and Yoshinoya to save up for it and it's a nice weekend splurge.

So yes, fairly decent Mexican food is possible here in Japan, but it will have a twist. Well worth the experience if you're here for an extended stay and are yearning for something nostalgic.


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