- 3 min read

Reina de Reina, Kyoto

Hearty Mexican food and drinks

When I've thought in the past of the cuisine of Kyoto, Mexican food wasn't something that sprang to mind, until one time I was looking for somewhere to have lunch near the museums just south of Heian-jingu shrine. I happened across Reina de Reina, a colorful Mexican restaurant and bar that serves a good range of dishes at not unreasonable prices.

It seemed quiet when I went in, probably because I was the first customer, but the decor was enjoyably vibrant and cluttered; there are colorful hats and birds perched around the lowish ceiling, and equally colorful masks, paintings, hangings and photographs around the walls, which are a mix of bright ochre and exposed brickwork. The long wooden bar and sturdy wooden tables looked robust enough to survive a good few gringos being thrown across them, while the music was a slightly cheesy, incongruous mix of cantina songs and soft jazzy latin.

I went with one of the lunch sets, giving me a prawn and avocado 'Mexican Roll' along with soup, salad and a drink; the staff kindly allowed me to have a pineapple juice even though it wasn't one of the official set options. The 'rolls' turned out to be kind of taco-pastry cones, which were firm to the bite but slightly chewy once I got into them; they were filled with salad, a couple of plump, juicy prawns and a fat slice of creamy avocado, creating a melange of textures and flavors that I enjoyed a lot. The rolls were enhanced by the smooth pink sauce they were served with, while on the side I also had a few nachos with a trio of dips, hot and tangy.

Other lunch sets on the menu (mostly Japanese but with a smattering of Spanish) include tacos and some other brands of rolls, and come in at between ¥1300 and ¥1500, while other main dishes such as Pizza a la Mexicana, burritos (beef or chicken), enchiladas and Paella Veracruzana start from ¥1000: not being Mexican I can't vouch for its authenticity. On the side you can have salads, quesadillas, guacamole or tacos for between ¥700 and ¥1000, washed down with cocktails of tequila or rum, or a Mexican beer like Corona, Tecate, Bohemia or Negra Modela.

If you're in Kyoto and you want something a bit different in a fun, lively setting, then Reina de Reina is a good place to get it!

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