How do you tell a good Mexican restaurant from a great one?
Well, three things. One, they have horchata. Two, you’re stuffed by the time your food arrives, because the chips are just that good. And three, everything is absolutely fresh.
Or you could just follow our advice and go to Veracruz Mexican Grill. Because it's a great Mexican restaurant—one of the best in the city—and they’ve got all of that and more.
Venture up Warsaw Avenue (or down Warsaw Avenue, shoutout West Siders) and Veracruz is right off the main drags of Price Hill. Revitalizing Price Hill, I should say, whose Incline District is one of the more interesting places in Cincinnati.
Veracruz is part of all that. Not conspicuously, but trust us. If good burgers and sweeping views of the urban basin aren’t your thing (speaking of Incline Public House), this is your best bet for dinner in the area. It’s fresh, it has great chips and salsa, and the horchata is outstanding.
About that horchata: When I lived in Chicago, the sweet rice water drink (better than it sounds) was ubiquitous. I’ve since migrated to a far cooler city, but alas, the horchata flows less plentifully. Not at Veracruz, though. Here the horchata is delicious, and it’s the first thing you should order to begin your authentic dining experience.
Onto the chips. As we all know, the quality of chips at a Mexican restaurant is one of the world’s irreducible things. Either they’re salty and crispy and delicious. Or, they’re not. Well, the chips here fall into the former category, meaning they’re a perfect conduit for Veracruz’s outstanding salsa, queso, and guacamole.
But oh, what guacamole. It’s chunky, it’s rich with cilantro, and it sports a tasty dose of fresh lime juice. The salsa and queso are great, too—especially the salsa, which is perfectly acidic—but it’s the guac that’ll really commend the chips to your mouth. It's too fresh to pass up.
Now, as you might have realized, that’s the third time I’ve mentioned “freshness” in relation to Veracruz. That’s because the food’s freshness (four) will be your lasting takeaway. The chicken in the quesadillas, for example, is grilled fresh with every order (five...), and it conveys that smoky taste in every bite. Same with the meat in the burrito Mexicano, a warm, spicy-sweet feast that gushes with unnamed spices, one of them cumin.
Then we come to the enchiladas. They’re not more complicated than they need to be. They don’t compare visually to the looker that is the burrito (no easy feat for a burrito). But the corn tortillas are downright fragrant with the pure, sweet taste of corn. Yes, the chicken is good in them; and yes, the homemade verde is outstandingly fresh (six!). Still, it’s the taste of corn that’ll have you savoring every morsel.
- - -
Veracruz Mexican Grill is located at 3108 Price Avenue (45205).