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Best Mexican

Mi Viejo Pueblito

601 S. Conkling St., (410) 522-0007,

Finally, Baltimore gets the real deal. Last time we went, chapulines—tiny, fried grasshoppers—were on the menu. We ordered a small dish, and scattered them on our black beans and rice. Though the beans didn’t need any help, the bugs added a nice, crunchy, spicy kick. So it goes with this restaurant, which opened where so many have failed. Dishes have strong flavor, fresh ingredients, and the kind of preparation you just don’t get in Mexican restaurants around here, where everything swims in a runny pond of wilted lettuce, refried beans, and cheese. Sure, you got your bistec, tacos, enchiladas, and chilaquiles. But there’s less common fare such as pozole, a pork and hominy soup, or parrilladas, a meat extravaganza served with salsas and grilled cactus. Then there’s the massively stuffed tortas, more like a meal and a half. We recommend the cecina, or salt-cured beef. Service is warm and friendly, and the carafe of horchata seems bottomless.

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