The best Mexican food in Seoul? Hmmm….
The decoration is very nice and the staff and service were wonderful.
Prices didn’t seem too bad for Western food. Until I saw the portions.
While I liked the look of a fried corn tortilla passed off as “chips + salsa” I missed the feathery light corn chips the masters back home present. The salsas were very good. While the roasted onion salsa may have been a bit salty, the taste had a nice kick and was really flavorful. The tomatillo salsa verde was also pleasant. Maybe the best thing we ate.
An enormous fruity iced tea. This was the only thing worth the price. Super sweet and delicious.
Mexican Caesar Salad
Of the three main courses we ordered, the Mexican Caesar Salad was probably the most flavorful. I was really excited for the rest of the meal after the chips and this salad. They had the genius idea to add in pico de gallo and pickled red onion…oh my it works so well. I loved the creamy dressing and the crunchy strips of corn tortillas on top.
My picture may give you the wrong impression of the size though. If you only ordered this salad for yourself you would leave hungry. Like…really hungry.
Braised Carnitas Tacos
I think it’s really great they offer you choices of 2 or 3 tacos. I ordered two braised carnitas because I was expecting something bigger.
I thought for a long time about what was wrong with the carnitas. This is my go-to Mexican choice back home. I usually L.O.V.E. this dish. This one just didn’t do it for me. I decided it was a serious lack of flavor from fat more than anything else. And by that, I mean meat fat…it was almost dry. The carnitas could also use some pico de gallo and guacamole rather than red onion, minimal cilantro and whatever that “hot” sauce is.
Mango Shrimp Quesadillas
When I saw this on the menu I was really excited for the combination of shrimp, cheese and mango. I thought it sounded like just the right combination of Mexican and a bit more upscale. I knew it wouldn’t be “authentic” but I was interested none the less. It’s presented very appealingly but I was immediately disappointed by how little mango salsa was included so its awesomeness never shone through. There could have been more on the side. There was a very strange oily, crispy cheese on top of the quesadilla. Honestly, if there were great things included inside there wouldn’t be a need for this super crispy cheese. And inside? I think I counted maybe three shrimp.
I feel like overall I just ordered the wrong things. Are there better things on this menu? Please let me know. I’d be willing to try again if I didn’t order their great menu options.
The best Mexican in Seoul?
And my closing remarks: I hail from St. Louis, Missouri. Missouri is smack in the middle of the U.S. and, believe it or not, we have some of the best Mexican food you could imagine. Due to the influx of Mexican immigration in our state we are blessed with many authentic options and don’t have to settle for things like Taco Bell, On the Border, Tomatillos, etc… We have amazing carnitas, barbacoa, full and hearty quesadillas, tamales that melt in your mouth, burritos filled with refried beans, guacamole and grilled onions. The food is not healthy, to be sure, but it is scrumptious and has made me declare Mexican food to be the ultimate cuisine. It is by far my favorite in every way.
So when I heard over and over from my coworkers that Vatos wasn’t just the best Mexican food in Seoul, but, that it was just great Mexican food, I really had high hopes. I actually went in knowing I would love it. I didn’t love it. I was actually quite surprised at how “meh” I felt the food was. It’s too clean, there wasn’t a refried or black bean to be found, no cilantro, no hints of garlic, no kick, no classic Mexican tastes no chiles or cumin. And where were the tomatoes? The serious lack of tomatoes is a serious problem when you’re talking about Mexican food.
This is not the worst Mexican food I’ve ever had, even back home, but, when I keep hearing over and again that this is where you go for Mexican food, I just expected more.