Nostalgic for Mexican Food

Authentic Mexican food, maybe. Well as authentic as a white girl from Iowa can make. There is a small town near where I grew up that was home to a dark, dingy, smoke-filled bar/restaurant. This bar/restaurant at the time was called Lou’s and it served delicious nachos, tacos and burritos. They were only open the last half of the week, and the line to get in was always long. You would stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone else waiting to eat, it was like a crowded nightclub.

I have so many memories eating at Lou’s, mainly because we would always go with my family and my grandparents. The adults would order their beers and my sister, brother and I would have to agree on a choice of soda, because we would get to order AN ENTIRE PITCHER OF IT. Occasionally we would get to order a Shirley Temple; my brother drank so many of these (non-alcoholic) cocktails that he threw-up in the parking lot. Since he is not yet 21 we always ask if he wants a Shirley Temple when we are ordering our beers; I don’t think he finds it as funny as I do.

Usually every time Alex and I go back home, we request to eat there with one of our families. The nachos are covered in gooey cheese, the portions are large, the salsa is hot and the beer is cold. Lou’s is now called something different, and it is more of a restaurant than a bar, it is well lit and the smoke is all gone. Going there isn’t the same, something about a cramming a bunch of people into a dark, cigarette smoke-filled room made the food taste so much better; don’t get me wrong the food is still delicious the environment is what changed.

I’ve been ordering the same thing for as long as I can remember; a combination burrito with gravy, adding lettuce, tomatoes, onions and smothering it in sour cream and their hot salsa. YUM! This is a meal that I have always wanted to cook at home. The ground beef in the burrito is so fine, and I was told that is because they boil their meat. Usually when I make tacos I brown my beef, which results in large chunks of browned meat. I searched high and low for authentic Mexican recipes and I came across a great website. The beef recipe is so good and to me it seems authentic. At least it is very similar to the meat they serve at Lou’s.


2 lbs ground beef
1 tsp salt
2 T chili powder
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp cumin
2 T paprika
water to cover meat

1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped

But all ingredients (besides onion and pepper) into a 2 qt sauce pan. Use enough water to cover meat. Bring to a boil. Simmer over medium low heat about an hour. In about 15 minutes take a potato masher break up the meat; don’t want it to cook up in lumps. Repeat this process 2 or 3 more times. Also make sure we don’t run dry of water. Add water if needed.

Add chopped onion and chopped bell pepper, continue cooking 20 or 30 more minutes.

To finish:

Remove from stove pour into strainer. Let set for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure all grease was removed. At this point we do want to keep the liquid.  Place liquid in freezer for a few minutes. When grease separates and starts to hardened take spoon and remove. Should have very little liquid left.

1/2 cup would be fine. Place in small pan bring to a boil. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of corn starch in 1/4 cup of cold water add to liquid simmer 4 or 5 minutes. Fold into meat. Now we have a tasty moist taco, grease free.


2 Responses

  1. Too bad you live in Iowa. My wife and I live in Chicago and, on occasion, partake of fine Mexican food at Rick Bayless’s Topolobompo or Frontera Grill. Unbelievable food.

  2. I love mexican food! Even if it’s made by a white gal from Iowa!

    I’ve never been to Rick Bayless’s, but I have relatives in Chicago and they say it is AWESOME!

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