Autentica Mexican Restaurant, North Hadley, MA

I don’t know where this sudden seafood craving came from. I can’t be pregnant unless I’m having puppies or something, and I don’t think my body has any particular crab cake deficiency that it’s trying to alert me to. But VV and I went out for Mexican tonight and all I could think of was the glory of fish tacos.

In a recent article by the Houston Press, I was a little miffed to discover that, while delicious, Cheez Wiz nachos are not, in fact, authentic Mexican food. Pooh. However, fried fish tacos are, so I could eat these and be true to the integrity of the food and its origin. Right?

Wrong. Autentica tried hard with its sombrero-heavy atmosphere and softly trilling Herb Alpert knockoff cassettes, but its food just didn’t deliver. I was hard pressed to find very many original dishes on this menu- where La Veracruzana has legendary enfrijoladas on their menu and Mi Tierra boasts sky-high sopes, there was nary a torta or a pupusa to be seen here. I figured fish tacos with jalapeno cream sauce would be inoffensive and, god forbid, tasty.Two tacos came piled high with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese. Strike one. Coleslaw is the traditional taco topping, and the shredded cheese, unmelted and powdery, was superfluous. After digging away to find the fish underneath, I came up with small, nickel-sized chunks of mahi-mahi, ranging from overcooked to flaky, with sparse coating and no crunch at all making up about 25% of the taco. The jalapeno cream sauce was sour cream with pickled jalapenos on top.

I don’t know. As much as I love tacos, I feel like this would have been better if I’d been drunk. Being hungry, I ate them placidly, but feel as though with an infinitesimal amount of preparation would have improved these- a little coleslaw on top, better, larger pieces of fried fish, and blending the peppers and sauce together. Little things. It was one of the first instances where the side dishes it came with, rice and beans, were more flavorful and tastier than the main meal.VV had a bean burrito with guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and rice, and it looked like she really enjoyed it. I can’t comment on it myself, but it definitely looked fresh and tasty. Next time, I’ll try the other Mexican restaurant in South Hadley, or I’ll just stick to an old stand by, Mi Tierra or La Veracruzana. Yum.

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