Monday, August 31, 2009

South of the Border - No Burma Shave Here

This Mexican restaurant's name may evoke memories of those family trips down I-95 to Florida and the fantastically tacky tourist trap just on the North Carolina/South Carolina state line but you won't find Pedro in this place. Like many towns across the nation, Williamsburg now has a plethora of the typical chip and salsa"Mexican" eateries. Without question, South of the Border on 2nd Street is the best of this genre in the local area. It is a family run establishment and great care seems to go in making every meal fresh and consistent. The tortila chips and salsa greet you as you are seated but I guarantee they are better than most. In addition, a small bowl of bean con queso broadens the dipping experience.

Based on my observations, the standard burrito, taco, and enchiladas plates seem to carry the day with most of the local patrons. Big crowds of CW employees can be found during the lunch rush. I would recommend however, the carne asada, or the carne asade tacos, and my favorite, camarones diablo-the devil shrimp. The latter are large shrimps in a spicy tomato sauce. When this dish was first introduced, I would end up drenched from head to toe from the heat. Unfortunately, some namby pamby customers complained about the spice level and the cooks have toned it down considerably. But you can insist on it extra hot. Always ask for a bowl of the hot salsa regardless to drench any of the menu items.

I eat here a lot but the best recommendation is the crowded tables of the local latino community enjoying the food and the wide-screen Mexican soccer channel. There is a cool bar with a good selection of Mexican beer--some on draft--and good margaritas. I need to remember to order the tamales more often. Or as that famous billboard on I-95 points out: Chili today, hot tamale! Try South of the Border and tell them Pedro sent you.

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