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October 12, 2010

Alice Eats: Miguel's on Main

30 Main Street, Burlington 802-658-9000Chips

Vermont will never be like California or Texas. There are not a lot of Mexicans here, therefore, there's not a lot of authentic Mexican food. Or, for that matter, any authentic Mexican food.

I still get misty when I drive Shelburne Road and remember the earthy, sesame-speckled mole prepared by a real-live Oaxacan at the late, great La Carreta. But that era is over. I must sate myself with food prepared by gringos, and when I do, my choice is Miguel's on Main.

My meal at Miguel's began with homemade chips and some of the freshest, most flavorful salsa I've had in Vermont. The tomatoes and onions were seasoned with lots of lime and enough cilantro leaves to make for a day-glo taste. The saucy dip also had just enough spice to create a pleasant burn.

Most of us know carne asada as Mexican flank steak. It actually just means "roasted meat," and at Miguel's the dish (below right) is a combo platter. I call the mixed grill a mini trip to Souza's Brazilian Steakhouse, with a handsome chunk of beef, snappy chorizo and an enchilada. At my meal on Sunday, the steak was cooked beautifully medium rare, but was slightly chewy, not expected of a flank steak. The rugged-tasting beef was drizzled with a sour cream sauce and Carne asada lots of herbs. The chorizo, plated in a comically phallic manner, reminded me at first bite of a juicy Nathan's hot dog. As I chewed, the spice of the thickly ground pork bloomed to an inferno. This was easily cooled by a taste of tangy carrot and jicama slaw, refried black beans or rice.

A cheese enchilada was a nice addition to the platter, though the sauce on top had dried to a crust. The cumin and chile powder-based punch worked better in a different dish, the chicken enchilada. The tortillas were filled with juicy little bites of meat which tasted of onions and citrus, a nice counterpoint to the deep, dark flavors of the red sauce. That meal also came with refried red beans, the same rice as the other dish and a small salad of iceberg lettuce and diced tomatoes.

I haven't tried it yet, but Miguel's has a mole on the menu. It now sits near the top of my to-eat list. Who knows, maybe soon, I'll miss La Carreta a little less.




I miss La Carreta a lot. I sometimes go to Madera's, which is TexMex and only so-so, but I haven't yet tried Miguel's on Main. The truth is, I prefer going to Montreal to get some decent Mexican food.

I would love to hear your recommendations for Mexican in Montréal, Dan. Would you mind sharing?

I would also like to get some recommendations because when I lived there my few experiences were the cheap taco nights at Carlos and Pepes or places like Manana (or the defunct on on Price Aurthur) where the food was decent but the salsa always tasted too much like marinara sauce for me.

Have eaten at Miguel's on Main 6 or 7 times and it is always good. Consistency is key to me, and Miguels is. Try the specials, they are really tops!

For mexican takeout, Aztlan (aka Green Mountain Mexican Foods) in Waterbury makes a valiant effort.

As someone who has spent a significant amount of time in Mexico, I'm shocked that you would pick Miguel's on Main as your go-to place for anything beyond a bland attempt at tex-mex. Unless the menu has changed drastically in the last 2 months, or they have a completely different menu at lunch time, it's 90% gringo food. I guess if your only Mexican experience has been New England attempts at Mexican, this place might pass. I've got to be honest though, right across the street you've got Maderas which is exponentially more authentic (although still gringo-mexican). I'd be curious tho hear what the writer thinks chili is. That's usually a pretty good baseline for someone's knowledge of Mexican food.

Truely baffled by this one.

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