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It’s a mission that has spanned a decade and a continent: Find spicy-hot Mexican food in Europe.

It’s also a mission that has been thwarted more times than I care to count in restaurants across a land that knows its wine and bread, but knows as much about Mexico as my dog knows about the moon.

In Weinheim, Germany, I encountered a doner kebab masquerading as a burrito. I found fajitas in the Netherlands cooked in teriyaki sauce. I couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a good Indian restaurant in London, but the one passable burrito joint I found there more than a decade ago has long since closed.

So as I headed to Mexico Lindo, a Tex-Mex place in Mainz, Germany, I did my best to keep my expectations in check.

On a breezy Tuesday night, German 20-somethings, all apparently enjoying themselves, took up a third of the Lindo’s tables.

As Germans aren’t known for eating anything that could cause a sweat (a fact reinforced by the country’s lack of ice cubes and air conditioning), I focused on the decor to keep my spirits up. With its yellow paint, Spanish-tiled eaves and cacti, it was clearly trying to play the part. But it wasn’t as over-the-top as some imposters, with their papier-mâché banditos and inflatable Corona bottles.

I plunked down alone at a table for two and a waitress sped over with corn chips and salsa. She took my drink order and dashed away.

My hopes were up until I dipped a chip. It wasn’t the ketchupy salsa some European Mexicant’s try to pass off as authentic, but it was about as hot as a cucumber and just as tasty. By the time I’d scraped the bottom of the salsa cup, my taste buds were no more burned out than if I’d guzzled a Dr Pepper.

There wasn’t much time to dwell on this disappointment. The first course arrived immediately: Taquitos arranged as spokes around a hub of guacamole.

The taquitos were crispy and warm and the guacamole flavorful, though smooth (as a fan of chunky guac, this was a little bit of a letdown). The dish won’t win any heat contests, but it’s not supposed to. Spicy guac is not the norm.

But I was hoping the next dish would kick it up a few notches.

Enchiladas verde, filled with pulled chicken and smothered in green salsa, arrived with sides of refried beans, Mexican rice and a salad the size of a child’s fist. Grabbing a fork, I hoped it tasted as good as it looked.

The enchiladas, at least, did.

The rice was light and mildly flavorful; the beans moist. With their succulent chicken and sharp cheese, the enchiladas were as close to the real deal as I’ve found in Europe. The green salsa was tangy without overpowering.

But did it bring the heat? Let’s just say the search continues.

Mexico Lindo

Location: Adolf-Kolping-Strasse 17 in Mainz, Germany.

Directions: From Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, head south on the B455 toward Mainz and Mainz-Kastel. Stay on the B455 through the first roundabout. At the second roundabout, take the second exit onto the B40 and cross the bridge into Mainz. Keep left and make a U-turn to stay on the B40. Turn right onto Bauerngasse. Make a slight left onto Flachsmarkt, continue straight onto Flachsmarktstrasse, then turn left onto Margaretengasse. Continue straight onto Vordere Synagogenstrasse, then onto Adolf-Kolping-Strasse. Mexico Lindo is on the right.

Hours: Open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Food: Tex-Mex.

Dress: Casual.

Prices: Starters from about 5 euros, entrees from about 9 euros, beer from 2.20 euros, sangria from 3.50 euros, tequilas from 2.50 euros.

Specials: 5-euro lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; children under 10 eat free with purchase of a parent meal Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; spend 10 euros or more in 10 visits, get a free meal up to 15 euros.

Menu: English available.

Clientele: Germans and Americans.

More information: Phone: 06131-228060; Web: mexicolindo.de


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