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HOME > CENTRAL TAIWAN > DINING

COMPASS MAGAZINE > August 2010
 

Latin American flavors in Taichung--Aztec Mexican Restaurant, Finga's Base Camp, Frog Restaurants, PJ's Cafe, Pizza Buena, Tapa Tapa Spanish Restaurant

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Sho Huang

One of the earliest "exotic" varieties of cuisine to come to Taichung was Mexican food, arriving as far back as the 1980s. Today, a number of older and newer establishments continue to offer Mexican--often better described as "Tex-Mex"--and other Latin American dishes.

 

Aztec Mexican Restaurant

Aztec Mexican Restaurant

 

 

Aztec Mexican Restaurant

166-49, XiTun Rd, Sec 3; (04) 2461-6219
Hours: 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5:30-9:30 pm (open all day weekends/holidays)
No service charge. Credit cards not accepted.
NT$60 minimum charge/person.

Offering Taichung's most authentic Mexican ambiance, this attractive, brightly-decorated place and its sister restaurant, Red & Green, are completely dedicated to Tex-Mex cuisine. Interesting new additions include the Fish with Tomatilla Green Sauce (NT$280 set with soup/drink) and the massive 50-centimeter, five-pound Sierra Madre Burrito, named after the mountain range. Anyone who finishes this, plus the fries and 1,500ml Coke, within 45 minutes doesn't have to pay the NT$600 contest registration fee (advance order required). Local diners enjoy the two-person NT$520 "Aztec In Love" set meal (NT$499 at Red & Green) which comes with a Taco Bowl Salad, Quesadilla and Fries, two sauces, Burrito, Chicken Leg (or Pork Rib for NT$60 extra), two soups and two drinks. Foreign patrons especially favor the NT$180 Big Burrito, with ground beef, grilled chicken, pork, and fried bell pepper/onion/tomato options. In addition to Tacos, Tostadas, Quesadillas, Enchiladas and Fajitas, be sure and try the Fried Ice Cream (NT$100) and Sopaipilla puff pastry dessert, served with cinnamon sugar, honey and whipped cream.

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Finga's Base Camp

Finga's Base Camp

Finga's Base Camp

(04) 2327-7750
61, ZhongMing S Rd
Hours: 10 am-10 pm (opens 8 am Sat/Sun)
Credit cards accepted for purchased over NT$300.
No service charge.

Taichung's first foreign-owned restaurant, Finga's has included popular Tex-Mex dishes amongst its very broad range of menu selections since around the mid-1990s. Today, Kiwi owner Dereke Bruce and his staff continue this trend with a variety of items, including the specially-popular Quesadillas (NT$210-260). Served with a tasty salsa, sour cream, refried beans and chips, quesadilla varieties include Cheese & Jalapeno, Vegetable, Tuna, Chicken (pictured), and Beef. Besides this, there are also a similar variety of Nachos (NT$160-200), Enchiladas (NT$210-260) and Burritos. Last but not least on the Mexican list is a Soft Fish Taco with Refried Beans (NT$240).

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Frog Restaurants

 

Frog Restaurants

(04) 2321-1197
105, HuaMei W St, Sec 1
Hours: 6 pm-2 am
No service charge. Credit cards not accepted.

Arguably Taichung's longest-running pub/restaurant business, the Frog has also long made Tex-Mex dishes a major part of its menu. A big favorite with diners are the truly tasty NT$280 beef or chicken Enchiladas (pictured) and Burritos (NT$250). Frog also offers all the other Mexican standard items, including beef or chicken Tacos and Soft Tacos (NT$250), Quesadillas, Fajitas (NT$310), Tortilla Chips, and Cheese Nachos (NT$140). This also being a popular watering hole, all this can be washed down with a NT$130 Corona or numerous other beverages.

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PJ's Cafe

PJ's Cafe

PJ's Cafe

(04) 2325-2457
23, DaYe Rd
Hours: 6 pm-12 am (opens 12 noon Sat/Sun)
No service charge. Credit cards not accepted.

Another long-running, early Taichung destination for Tex-Mex food, PJ's Cafe and its American owner PJ McKenna please the palate with a number of good options, with the Quesadillas being especially popular. PJ is now offering a traditional-style quesadilla (small/one toritilla NT$100, large/two tortillas NT$195), served in three slices. One unique item is the NT$195 Taco Salad (pictured), a good warm-weather dish with bean, chicken or combination options. There are also Nachos (NT$195); the large NT$150 Chips & Salsa (pictured), and the bean, chicken, steak or combination Burritos.

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Pizza Buena

Pizza Buena

(04) 2302-8083
206, MeiCun Rd, Sec 1
Hours: 11 am-10 pm
No service charge. Credit cards not accepted. Take-out available.

This place might not sound like it belongs in this cuisine category, but it actually offers a very unique Latin American specialty, the Empanada. As owner Vigi Yu explains, the tasty, flavor-filled little turnovers that her restaurant offers are baked, Argentinian-style, versus fried empanadas found in other South American countries. Because they only cost NT$20 each, you can sample Pizza Buena's entire empanada range, including Chicken, Beef, and Ham and Cheese, finishing off with the Banana/Chocolate dessert empanada. Sister restaurant Pasta Buena (87, DaYe Rd; tel. 2329-6518) also offers empanadas paired with Iced Fruit Tea as part of an all-day NT$85 teatime special.

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Tapa Tapa Spanish Restaurant

Tapa Tapa Spanish Restaurant

Tapa Tapa Spanish Restaurant

(04) 2325-2457
23, DaYe Rd
Hours: 6 pm-12 am (opens 12 noon Sat/Sun)
No service charge. Credit cards not accepted.

Another long-running, early Taichung destination for Tex-Mex food, PJ's Cafe and its American owner PJ McKenna please the palate with a number of good options, with the Quesadillas being especially popular. PJ is now offering a traditional-style quesadilla (small/one toritilla NT$100, large/two tortillas NT$195), served in three slices. One unique item is the NT$195 Taco Salad (pictured), a good warm-weather dish with bean, chicken or combination options. There are also Nachos (NT$195); the large NT$150 Chips & Salsa (pictured), and the bean, chicken, steak or combination Burritos.

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