Best Mexican Food in St. Louis

Does anyone remember El Burrito Loco in Holly Hills, Arcelia's in Lafayette Square or Mendoza's on Gravois near Chippewa that is now the Time Out Bar?

When we first moved to St. Louis those places were our spots. I LOVE Mexican cuisine, especially the fresh, healthy stuff. The Americanized, Tex-Mex stuff is all good too. 

Have you been to St. Cecilia's Parish during lent? Damn good tamale.

I've only been to Mexico once, and it was the first and only time I had ceviche and local, small town cooking. It was amazing. I'll never forget it. I think I like Mexican foods and cuisine more than French, English, German and Italian. Corn tortillas, sopes, cilantro, fresh beans and rice, peppers, mild white cheeses...this is the food I dream of.

We are so fortunate to have a strong Latino/Hispanic community here even though only 4% of our population is Latino/Hispanic (source). We are going to Denver in July and have a long list of places to visit. Denver is 31% Hispanic/Latino so we'll be in heaven.

Now, I have to admit, I don't really know where to send people who have discerning tastes or sophisticated palettes. I have a colleague from Mexico who claims there is no authentic Mexican food in St. Louis. She indicated there are a couple places in Fairmont City, IL but Cherokee Street doesn't make her feel like home.

Keep in mind for this discussion, I am talking about St. Louis, not the suburbs on Page, Florissant, Fairmont City, Cahokia, etc.

Heck, her favorite Latin cuisine is in a gas station in Fairview Heights, IL on Lincoln Trail.

I've been around the city to plenty of places, but not all. The take home being there are two kinds in St. Louis, the gringo-focused offerings you'd expect anywhere...and those are all good too. I'm not an elitist. I'll put Chava's, El Mariachi's, One Way Cafe in that category....there are many of this ilk. Then there's the places that are filled with Latinos eating, mostly along Cherokee Street. I mustn't be in the right places. It's good but not like I had in Mexico or in other American cities with large Hispanic/Latino populations. I owe Tacqueria El Bronco for turning me on to Valentina hot sauce and some corn tortilla dish I can't recall the name of. Forgive me, but it all just kind of blends in together without a standout to recommend to people.

I'm sure I'm missing something. I do like the homemade vibe.

There's another category of people doing good things like Mission Taco and Nixta (have yet to try the latter) where the offerings are way closer to what I'm talking about. They are good but I can't quite get over the fact that these are focused more toward people not of Latin descent. 

Maybe that shouldn't matter, Mission is really good, but the scene doesn't exemplify authentic Mexican food 1000 miles away from the Mexico/Texas border. I don't see many Latino diners in these places...but then again there are only ~12,000 people of Latin descent in the city.

Now, my go to for latin food is Fritanga on Jefferson. It is amazingly fresh and well done and changed my view on cabbage and plantains....but this is Nicaraguan food which is worlds apart from Mexican food. 

I just don't have a Fritanga-like recommendation for Mexican in St. Louis.

Taco Circus is another favorite and they have a great marketing ad campaign and I like the small place serving most the neighborhood on Morgan Ford; I've heard there a couple places on Gravois that are good, Mi Lindo Michoacan and Mariscos El Gato. Those are on the list to try.

Bottom line, I've found many average to above average guero-leaning places. They are all over and are good.

But what is that best place to recommend to someone from Mexico?

Can you help me?