Review: 3 Bandera’s Restaurant

I spent most of the 90’s in Nashville, TN and one of the things I have been missing since returning to Alabama is real South of the Border food. As many a Texan can tell you, Mobile’s Mexican scene is poor. Most of the places we think of as being “traditional Mexican” restaurants are actually Tex-Mex, bad Tex-Mex at that. They all have the same menu and their food tastes pretty much the same. They rely mostly on precooked foods that they microwave – even ground beef which comes pre-cooked in one gallon cans. Yes cans.

There are a few chains like Chili’s and El Chico’s but they are actually what is termed “Gringo Mex.” Gringo Mex is a super watered down form of Mexican. Not bad, mind you, but far from authentic. The few shining lights in town have been La Cocina on Airport which is this town’s lone authentic Mexican (ask for the Spanish menu – it’s different) and Armando Rodriguez’s three eateries Aztecas and the two Hacienda San Miguel locations which all put out stellar Tex-Mex.

Now there is a new source for serious Latin flavors, 3 Banderas is classic Central American food. You know, pupusas! You don’t know pupusas? They are kind of like corn flour pancakes that are stuffed with anything from cheese to roasted pork. Top them with a little curtido (Salvadoran vinegar-based slaw) and you are set from some tasty and cheap eats (less than $3). For dessert I recommend the empanada de platanos, from plantain and pudding concoction that is battered and fried. Be sure to wash it down with one of their flavored waters like agua de melon (water and cantelope) or horchata (rice milk with cinnamon and nutmeg). For you iron-clad gringos they do have chips, salsa, and many of the other dishes we mis-associate with Latin cuisine.

3 Banderas Restaurant is located at 7765 Airport Blvd at that dense Schillinger’s Road corner.
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