The search for authentic Mexican food in Kaiserslautern ends at Fiesta Mexicana
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | Stars and Stripes | Published: July 4, 2019
During my first experience eating at a Mexican restaurant in Kaiserslautern, I discovered a new flavor.
Hmmm, what does this chicken enchilada sauce remind me of? It took a second — and then it clicked: dog food. The smell of an open can of dog food aligned with the taste no amount of tequila could rid from my mouth.
What was in the sauce, I can’t say. But the owner said his chefs didn’t use cumin — a quintessential Mexican spice — in order to tone it down for German taste buds.
At Fiesta Mexicana in Mackenbach, one of the newer Mexican restaurants in the Kaiserslautern area, cumin is in the spice rotation, as are other traditional Mexican spices, say husband-and-wife owners Eduardo Fernandez Garcia and Lydia Schamp.
That stands in contrast to some German-style Mexican restaurants in the area, where Fernandez was surprised to taste mostly curry and tomatoes as the dominant flavors, he said.
Word on the street in Kaiserslautern is that Fiesta Mexicana serves the most authentic Mexican food in the area. One advantage it has over the competition — besides the use of cumin in the kitchen — is that Garcia is a longtime professional chef from Puebla, Mexico. He knows what Mexican food tastes like and knows how to make it, whether it’s of the more authentic variety or American style.
“We have something for all different Mexican cultures from America,” Schamp said.
There are Tex-Mex fajitas and nachos, as well as Southern California-style burritos.
“In California, we add fries to everything,” said Schamp, a German citizen whose father is a retired U.S. airman.
Wrapped up in the Fiesta Mexicana version are fries, carne asada, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream.
The couple opened the restaurant on Cinco de Mayo in 2017, in the Mackenbach sports club next to the village’s soccer field and tennis courts.
They expected a few customers a day but have been slammed ever since, by a mostly American clientele apparently hankering for some real Mexican food.
Tacos are the most popular item on the menu, Schamp said, especially on “Taco Tuesday,” when tacos are 2.50 euros apiece.
The tacos were top notch, served more like street tacos with the filling spread on soft corn tortillas — and not the crunchy ones. The Nopales taco includes cactus strips, a mainstay in Mexican food, I learned.
I also tried the El Chilango — a stuffed burrito busting at the seams with ground chorizo, potatoes, onions, cheese, jalapenos, rice and beans, and topped with habanero and green guacamole salsa.
Schamp said they make their own chorizo, since it’s hard to find locally. It had a proper flavor — nothing close to dog food.
Two words of advice for those wanting to check out the restaurant: Reservations are advised, and be prepared to wait a little longer for food and drinks on busy nights.
Location: Jahnstrasse 26, 67686 Mackenbach, Germany
Hours: Open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed on Wednesdays.
Prices: Most main course items are under 10 euros; a few range from 11.50 euros (quesadilla fajita) to 14.50 euros (fajita with two kinds of meat).
English menu: Yes.
Clientele: Mostly American
Information: Call (+49) (0)6374 3924 and check Facebook for information on special events.
Note: Reservations highly recommended; cash (euros) only. Closed for summer vacation July 10-24.