A culinary haven can sum up foodie destination Trinidad and Tobago. We are famous for our local cuisine and our love affair with food. Creative entrepreneurs have dived into this food niche. They saw the space for opportunity in this thriving food culture business such as developing an ode to Mexican food. Similarly the consumers; tourists, visiting diaspora and locals in the domestic market reply to this growth when they literally clear their calendar for a food date!
My only advice to those of you skeptical about getting your heart broken from trying new foods is to just “do it” because you only learn from experience duh!
My first local Mexican experience was Senor Jalapeños on Ariapitha Avenue. It happened after a CLD fashion show and I was just…. hungry? Actually, I am always enthused to try out these new hot spots. I was super excited to see what they’ve done and how they captured the authenticity of Mexican culture. What a damper on my mood though as the only thing Mexican was the Jalapeño in the window and at after 9pm the food did not look as appealing and the employees seemed to be having some trouble expressing warm happy hospitality. I liked the lay out of the different condiments and dressings. The staff was informative and the general area was clean. There was no fish at that hour. The energy and vibe was dismal and I retired for the night with a bag of colourful salty chips and Pico de Gallo. Lesson for the staff if you do not believe in your product or service you cannot expect the customer to believe it either.
Next, I decided to try again at the other Mexican joint Senor Tacos on that hip strip near Grand Bazaar. Please forgive me but my travel, hospitality and tourism orientation forces me to subconsciously evaluate service organizations especially food with international standards . Hence, I am immediately spun into a tailspin of utter disappointment if low standards prevail. Anyways, back to the story. So obviously the employees didn’t seem very Latin. Next, I noticed, that there were a few sauce pots brewing. They appeared to be some sort of meat or something cooking in the back. However, I just find it unbelievable that taco shells were prepackaged in containers and boxes. Imagine my further despair when I saw that the fish was really ready made fish sticks from a bag in the refrigerator. Then my toppings that were all inclusive were regular. So I had to pay extra for a “Mexican” experience that included pickles and jalapenos taken from a jar and guacamole ready made from prepackaged container. (My Miss Piggy grunt!) Seriously! Furthermore, my pain was enhanced when they wrapped it up and put it on a warming bed. Umm no… $40TT dollars for two depressing, whole wheat tacos with extra paid for specialty toppings.
On to stop numero tres, Mr. Rango’s Cook House and Bar at Price Plaza Chaguanas. One word amazing ! Mr. Rango offers Tex Mex cuisine; a fusion of Texan and Mexican food. Hell, most of the staff speak Spanish and they have a good command of English language! Amazeballs! The branding is everywhere from floor to ceiling. table mats to their signature Rango movie character in the bathroom. Of course their slogan “food, friends and life” is captured in all their branding of menus, table mats and pepper sauce bottles. The service is attentive and quick. The dessert shelves were well stocked with decadent cakes. You can dine in or outside or take away your food. The decor, lighting, seating for take away service, bar and dining is very tastefully done. I even spotted cactus plant. Television screens surround the bar area but you can choose a more intimate setting if you want. How could I forget ! The music was pure latino vibes! Hallelujah! My friends ordered honey BBQ chicken, coconut shrimp and fries and lamb and mashed potatoes with vegetables. The presentation looked as yummy as it tasted ! On leaving, we even got a brief history of Tex Mex food and the unique fusion served at Mr. Rango’s. Talk about turning up the night a notch ♥. While the menu was a bit pricey my friends didn’t mind the trade off since great food, service and ambiance were worth the cost.
So my sour face from my choices was quite temporary.You have to do to experience and most times learn from experience . Now let me back up a bit here. I understand the three Mexican type food concessions are family(Senor Jalapenos), street (Senor Tacos) and upwardly mobile chic restaurant (Mr. Rango’s). Yet, my evaluation was based on the context of quality of food, cleanliness, taste,quality of service, aesthetics, vibes and any wow factors that left “soon come back” lasting impression. So, I’m terribly ecstatic about my new favorite Mexican food spot in Trinidad so go check it out! I hope you have as fabulous a time as I did at Mr. Rango’s
Thank you Mr. Rango’s for truly sharing your culture not just the celebration of food, friends and life!