Meats the eye
While I’m an avowed omnivore, I’m down to sample vegan creations that tickle the ol’ taste buds. But my inner caveman can’t resist the call of meaty goodness, and a life without cheese is unimaginable. Many substitutes have failed to hit the mark, but the fare at House of Mexica could easily satisfy both Jack Sprat and his carnivorous bride.
The spartan menu is made for vegans and vegetarians who long for fast food without the guilt, including Mexican items, burgers, crispy and grilled chicken sandwiches and fries done several ways. All of the sauces are housemade, including a “cheese” sauce that approximated something cheesy. It didn’t truly ring as cheese but tasted pretty good and was certainly better than many vegan options.
The “meats” are textured soy protein, house shaped and seasoned to simulate carne asada, al pastor, chicken and hamburger. House of Mexica (pronounced mesh-EE-ka) is also one of the few places you can try an “Impossible Burger,” a mix of textured wheat and potato proteins, coconut oil, yeast extract and leghemoglobin that has gotten a lot of press and social media attention. More on that in a bit.
Burgers and sandwiches are served on sesame seed buns and come with fries. My daughter’s grilled chicken sandwich ($11.99) featured what looked—and tasted—like a fast food, seasoned patty of processed meat, with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and cheese sauce. For an extra $3, she upgraded to Animal Kingdom fries, which remained crispy despite being slathered in Thousand Island dressing, cheese sauce and grilled onion. The result was pretty convincing; you could easily swap this plate for any number of chain offerings and not notice a difference.
We shared a few plates of al pastor and chicken tacos ($8 for three) with my hungry grandson. The tacos were dressed with cilantro, onion, radish, guacamole ($2 extra) and a very good green salsa. The al pastor was shockingly good, with plenty of spicy pineapple flavor and a texture reminiscent of slow-cooked pork. The chicken was just cubed chunks of patty, but it still did the job. Again, you could serve these against other street tacos and be hard-pressed to tell they’re vegan.
My daughter-in-law’s asada chimichanga ($12.99) was an enormous, crispy, deep-fried flour tortilla stuffed with “steak” strips, refried beans, bell pepper, onion, black olive, tomato and cheese sauce. It was topped with non-dairy sour cream and that yummy green salsa. The faux meat was OK but a bit lost amid a sea of beans and sauce. She’s not a big eater—and it was a huge plate of food—but we didn’t mind helping her finish it.
My son and I were focused on that Impossible Burger, so we upgraded from the soy option for an additional $3 per patty. My Return of the Mac ($14.99, plus $6) was a pair of sizeable patties in a bun with Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, pickle, onion, and cheese sauce, with a side of upgraded 4 the Buffalo fries doused in hot sauce and ranch. My son’s classic burger lettuce wrap with plain fries ($11.99, plus $3) was the same thing, sans dressing. My huge, seasoned vegetable and black magic medley was truly, impossibly similar to grilled, ground beef. It tasted great, although, with all the wet veggies and sauce, it started to challenge the bun and fell apart as it was consumed. I shared bites of burger with the table, and we were all pretty impressed with the subterfuge.