Metro Station: Maubert-Mutualité (Line 10)
Type of cuisine: Mexican
Days & hours of operation: Mon to Sat 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Sun 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
Nestled near the corner of rue des Bernardins and boulevard Saint-Germain, the green façade of Anahuacalli shyly summons passersby to step inside for a Mexican meal. The dining room is decked in textured wallpaper the color of maize; exposed beams on the ceiling support two large ceiling fans; objects of Mexican folklore and images of artist Frida Kahlo decorate the walls…the décor is tasteful and reassuring.
The servers seem to be pressed for time in this busy restaurant and one might get the impression that they are not very convivial; however, when my partner lost her earring as she was removing her overcoat, the waitress expressed sympathy and helped her look for it. Not finding it, she gestured toward me and declared that I would buy her (my partner) another!
We began by each ordering a margarita. These drinks are expensive, but they are served nicely chilled in large, wide-brimmed glasses. They pack a punch! We drank them throughout the meal, rather than ordering wine.
While we studied the menu, thin corn chips were placed on our table with two kinds of sauce. Although the waitress explained that one sauce was hot, we found that we could tolerate it quite well.
For the starter, I ordered Nopalitos compuestos, a salad of cactus, tomato, coriander, and cheese. I found the crunchy, succulent cactus of this salad to be quite refreshing. Intermixed were slices of avocado and tomato; feta cheese was sprinkled on the top.
My partner chose Quesadilla de cuitlacoche, a flour tortilla topped with salsa and crumbly white cheese and stuffed with melted cheese, sweet corn kernels, and a paste made from corn smut (a plant fungus called cuitlacoche that is considered to be a delicacy in Mexico). Served on a bed of lettuce with a large dollop of guacamole alongside, this tasty appetizer was filling enough to be a main course.
The menu offered eleven different main courses from which to choose. I selected the last on the list, Tacos de la Merced. The waitress brought a basked of hot flour tortillas and a compartmentalized dish containing five different fillings. The idea was to take a tortilla, add a spoonful of filling from one of the serving dishes, roll the taco, and eat it with the fingers. The dishes contained pork, chicken, sliced beef, pinto beans, and hashed beef. Comparing them to Mexican dishes that I had tasted in California many years ago, I thought that most of the fillings lacked flavor. The shredded chicken was over-seasoned with lemon juice, and the sliced beef was not very tender. But then, the starter that I had just finished was quite large and by the time I got to the main course, my appetite was diminished.
My partner opted for Mole Poblano. This consisted of two sizeable portions of turkey breast covered with a deep brown, richly scented mole sauce that was sprinkled with sesame seeds. A serving of medium-grain white rice was served alongside. The turkey was tender and the sauce subtly spicy and chocolat-y.
Servings here are copious. As we were satiated after this huge meal, we forwent dessert.
The service was friendly and as rapid as it could be under the circumstances of a busy Saturday night. The waitress helped me with my coat as I was leaving the restaurant.
Saturday night dining has two services, the first at 7:30 p.m. and the second at 9:30 p.m.
The bill for two, including five margaritas, two starters, and two main courses, came to 114.30€.
We think that travelers to Paris seeking Mexican food will enjoy dining at Anahuacalli.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.