In Croatia, the choice of Mexican food is extremely poor and most of the time when they are advertising something as a Mexican restaurant or food, it has nothing to do with real Mexican. Some combinations of Tex-Mex yes, but true Mexican, unfortunately, no.
When I stumbled upon an announcement new Tacos And Burger Barr was opening in Zagreb, I instantly shared it with Jaime. We loved the burgers in Rougemarin (owners are the same guys) so we assumed this place is going to be huge as well.
When we arrived around 6 pm, the place was full. We saw two people leaving and asked the staff if we could take their (half of a) table and squeeze in with other girls. Thumbs up for the staff for asking them if it was ok with them, and letting us jump in.
One Croatian, one Spanish and two Mexican were ready to decide if this place finally managed to bring something truly Mexican into the town.
Having mezcal on the menu was a first great sign! Usually, people have no idea what mezcal is – three different kinds here made our hearts beat a little bit faster. Of course, we decided to start the dinner with Gusano Rojo, a brand we never heard off but it was unbelievably tasty. I, who do not like hard drinks, drank this one like it was nothing!
Even we came to try tacos, we were so hungry we ended up ordering burgers with fries and a portion of tacos to share. If I remember well, Rougemarin was one of few places that did not have a separate charge for french fries, but they came together with a burger by default. It would be great if Tacos And Burger Barr followed their practice. Until then, you need to pay 17 kn extra to get the fries.
Jaime and guys went for a chipotle burger and I decided on a cheese one. They hoped for chipotle to be spicy, but since they are used to eat spicy food, they did not feel anything. It would be great if they came in a more spicy option as well!
Burgers were big and yummy, not the best ones we ever tried but in top 5 for sure. They are served in cool wooden boxes which, not only are super practical for the kitchen, but look unique as well.
Tacos were there as well, sitting in the middle of the table. Nobody wanted to taste them at first, we were scared to get disappointed again. (Last year we found a stall selling tacos during the Advent which was a joke – we did not want the same to happen again.)
We must applaud them for making their own homemade tortillas from original masa harina. As soon as tacos came to the table, the guys commented how tortillas look great. When Mexicans say that in Croatia, then they must be fantastic. And they absolutely were – soft, tasty and perfectly sized.
There were four different kinds of tacos on the menu – made of poultry, fish, pork or beef meat. You can see the menu was carefully crafted to have something for everyone. We ordered beef cheeks tacos which were literally melting in our mouth.
I loved the salsa as well, however, guys were not so thrilled. They said cream should be skipped and traditional Mexican tomato or chile sauces should be served instead. I would just wish there were more than three tacos in the combo. Actually, I wish they were sold by piece and less expensive, just like they are in Mexico.
We notice the place is doing quite well just after the opening, but of course, there are several things which can help them to improve their service and position themselves as an iconic place in the heart of Zagreb.
We all agreed Tacos And Burger Barr is too expensive. Tacos are simple and cheap street food. Do not try to make them fancy and expensive. Allow guests to buy them one by one and combine different types. A combo of three small tacos for 50 – 60 kuna is too expensive, especially because you are still hungry afterward.
For the amount of 60 kunas, you can order a main dish in many restaurants, a whole pizza and a half, huge burger with fries and so on. Tacos should be cheaper and that’s it. Just as an example, an average taco at the expensive taco joint in Mexico City costs between 6 and 10 kunas. Here, you pay between 17 and 20 kunas.
We LOVE the fact they brought excellent tacos to Zagreb and we would be here every week if prices were more affordable. The staff was friendly and attentive, as well as nicely decorated restaurant. Tacos and Burger Barr could easily become our favorite place in the city, just if they remember they are in Zagreb, not London or NYC.
What is your favorite kind of taco? Did you visit Tacos and Burger Barr in Zagreb?
Tacos And Burger Barr
Jurišićeva 2a, Zagreb
Opening hours: 11:30 – 23:00
Closed on Sundays
Price range: 450 kn for 4
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When the holiday season comes to its end on January 6, the person who was lucky to get the toy of baby Jesus in her piece of Rosca de Reyes (the traditional pastry served during Epiphany day in Mexico) is in charge of hosting a feast on February 2, when tamales and atole are served. It is a follow-up of Epiphany day (or Día de los Reyes Magos, how it is called in Mexico) and has mixed roots in pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholic beliefs.
Where the celebration comes from?
February 2 is known as “Día de la Candelaria” or “Presentation of the Lord”. By the Jewish law, all the babies were supposed to be taken to the temple 40 days after they were born. So 40 days after Christmas, on the exact February 2, Mary took Jesus to the temple along with candles. Until these days, there is a tradition in Mexico to bring the images of baby Jesus and candles to the church to be blessed.
Pre-Hispanic Mexicans also had the tradition of paying a tribute to the rain god and clouds to pray for their agricultural activity. They dressed up the children and making them cry as an augury of water abundance. It is most likely the Spaniards linked those two traditions when they were spreading the catholicism in Mexico.
Why are tamales so important for Mexicans?
February 2 is also known as Tamales day among foodies. It is the day when you are allowed to eat as much as tamales as you can! Tamales were traditional meal among the Mexican natives which was often connected with agricultural celebrations. Tamales are made from corn and the corn was the most important ingredient in the pre-Hispanic Mexican cuisine. Its importance in the modern cuisine did not change much. Corn tortillas, bread, and tamales are the base of every Mexican person’s diet.
Traditionally, tamales are made by hand so you will need to work for them. They are not hard to prepare, you just need to get ready for some serious kneading because the corn-based dough requires it. Once you learn the technique, you will definitely agree they are worth the effort. There are many different types of tamales and most of them are salty. They can be filled ith spiced meat, cheese, vegetables or fruits and wrapped in fresh banana leaves or dried corn husks and steamed.
Oaxacan sweet tamales are easy to make!
I must admit most of the salty tamales I tried (better – I tried to try) were too spicy for me, but I did fell in love with sweet and yummy version. Yes, tamales can be whatever you want them to be! When we were coming from Mexico, we brought two packages of corn husks for tamales. Just in case, if we ever decide to make them. Luckily, they have no expiration date and year and a half later they were waiting for us.
We got a real Mexican masa harina (special corn dough they use for tamales and tortillas) in Pekinška patka store here in Zagreb. They also have corn husks if you need some. For the tasty Oaxacan sweet tamales, we also used homemade pork fat, red food coloring, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon powder and canned pineapple.
It takes around 30 minutes to make the dough and 30 minutes to roll the tamales. From 1/2 kg of flour, we got 10 tamales, which was more than enough to feed 4 persons. If you plan to serve it only as a snack or dessert, you can even serve one tamal per person. Once they are made, they need to steam for around an hour. We used the real steamer as well as improvised on the stove and both did an excellent job.
Traditional Oaxacan Sweet Tamales
- 1/2 kg / 1 lb corn flour (masa harina)
- 1 tea spoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup of pig fat
- 8 spoons of brown sugar
- 1 tea spoon of cinnamon
- 10 drops of red food colouring
- 1/2 can of pineapple, cut into small pieces
- Put the corn husks in the warm water, to soften so you could roll them. If you try to do it with dried ones, they would immediately break.
- To make the dough, combine the flour and the spoon by spoon warmed pig fat and knead it all the time. When the dough is not sticky anymore, you can add the baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Add more sugar than you initially think, because the steaming process will reduce some.
- Divide the dough into pieces big enough to fit into corn husks and color each with some red food coloring. They should just be partially colored - that is how Mexicans marks the sweet tamales among all the others.
- Take the corn husks out of the water, dry them a bit and fill with the dough and cut pineapple pieces. Do not overstuff them because they need to be rolled in a nice bundle.
- Roll each tamal and close it well from each side. Wrap them as the little presents using the food thread or pieces of corn husks.
- Put them in the steamer and cook for approximately 1 hour. Take out one tamal and let it cool little bit. Try if it is already cooked - it cannot be chevy - and let them cook a bit more if not. Be careful not overcook them because they can easily become too dry.
As for all the other wonderful Mexican recipes, for this tasty Oaxacan sweet tamales recipe we can thank my mother in law, Jaime’s mom. Participating in Tamales day is an excellent and tasty way how to keep Mexican traditions alive. (more…)
Last year in September we just arrived in Croatia and we had many other things in mind, so we did not plan any celebration for Mexican Independence Day. This year, however, the situation is completely different! We are on vacation, we have enough free time and we both miss some Mexican food and a few Latin flavors and moves.
Summer decided to stay longer this year and the weather is (was!) still beautiful and we decided to organize a little fiesta in our garden, as well as attend the picnic organized by other Mexicans from Facebook group Mexicanos en Croacia. Here’s how we celebrated Mexican Independence Day in Croatia.
Read more: Viva Mexico! How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day
Mexican fiesta in the garden
While I was making food, Jaime decorated the house and garden with papel picado (my favorite Mexican decoration!) and lights. The tables were covered with colorful tablecloths and big Mexican scarfs and over the door, we hung beautiful handmade carpet, which Jaime’s parents bought last year. Around we have put sombreros, alebrijes, and other Mexican crafts to make everyone feel like they were really in Mexico.
We decided to prepare traditional and tasty food served with colorful salsas and garnishes like corn, cheese, and onions with chilies. Here is the list of dishes and recipes (I will add
more (all) over the time).
- tacos de cochinita pibil, one of the tastiest tacos,
- tacos al pastor, signature tacos of Mexico City,
- tacos de bistec and pollo,
- tacos de carnitas,
- guacamole and tomato salsa, to give the right flavors,
- frijoles refritos, beans dipping salsa,
- rainbow salsa, very attractive and tasty salad, and
- tortilla chips with cheese salsa.
For more inspiration, check out our favorite Mexican cookbooks in English – Tacopedia, and Mexico: The Cookbook. They are both full of fantastic recipes.
To spice the things up, you could take some of the homegrown chili paprikas (my mom is planting them especially for Jaime) and pour it over with tequila, mezcal (Mexican traditional drink, less known internationally than tequila) and margaritas.
Also, mom made the best desert – tres leches cupcakes. After trying (and adoring) her tres leches cake, I knew these cupcakes would be an excellent addition to the party!
The whole evening was wonderful! The weather was just perfect and we enjoyed the night in the garden while people were learning about Jaime’s traditions and enjoyed the food we prepared. It was great to see our friends and colleagues trying out new flavors. We can’t wait to repeat it next year!
Mexican picnic at Bundek lake
Saturday morning we spent in Bundek, enjoying Mexican traditional food with other Mexicans living in Croatia. I had no idea there’s so many of them here, but I’m glad they are and we were able to attend this lovely gathering.
Everybody brought something to eat – we decided on taquitos, onions with chilies and tomato salsa. We tried tacos de tinga (one of Mexican food I prepare the most often), empanaditas with beans, mole, rice and one lady even brought homemade tortillas. Those were the best tortillas I’ve ever tried and they were still warm, yummy!
Jaime enjoyed eating Mexican candies and trying out mezcal with his friend. We also meet many new people and the whole day was a great experience.
However, some poor soul called the police reporting there is hanged Mexican flag and, by Croatian law, one is not allowed to show other countries flags without prior permission. The police came and fined us with 300 kunas, obviously unhappy they needed to do that because we did not do any harm to anyone. We were not loud or unpolite, just the flag was hanging there. Ah.
Luckily, they did not ruin the mood (too much) and we continued to chit chat and play Mexican games. These few days dedicated to Mexico were so heartwarming, spent in a good environment.
We were surrounded by nice people and awesome food – we couldn’t ask for more! Next year we will definitely repeat 🙂
If you are interested how the celebration looks like, check out our post about how to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. You can also learn more about Christmas traditions in Mexico or Day of the Dead festivities.
Get your Mexico Lonely Travel Guide here.
Find your accommodation on Booking.com, or Airbnb (use this link to get 32 EUR off for your first trip!).
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ORIGINAL RECIPE FOR COCHINITA PIBIL
We are trying to keep some Mexican dishes in our regular menu so that Jaime can enjoy some tacos or gringas from time to time. But a week ago he wished to make something called cochinita pibil. I had no clue what should that be or even more, how to make it. He just said we need to get some achiote (Mexican spice) from the international market (in Zagreb you can find things like this in Pekinška patka in Vlaška ulica).
His mom is an excellent cook, so – rather than searching for it online – we turned to her for help. Jaime received detailed explanations what and how he needs to do and he was ready to start cooking. Is there anything better than mastering your family recipe?
To begin with, you can make your own tortillas – they are the best if they are homemade, of course. However, here in Croatia I am struggling with finding a good flour to make corn ones and they usually look and taste like nothing. Therefore, I buy tortillas. Our favorites are the ones from Interspar – they are the thinnest and the best value for money tortillas you can find in Croatia. If they would have smaller taco tortillas as well, I would probably stop thinking about making them at home.
Corn tortillas from Interspar, best value for money tortillas in Croatia © Mexatia
Day 1: MARINATING
Once we decided which tortillas we are going to use, the preparation could have started. Cochinita pibil is truly easy dish to make, but it takes time. Three days of time, to be more exact. The first day is all about marinating! You need to clean pork loins from fat, cut it into pieces, around 5 cm thick, and place into a bowl in which you are going to marinate. It would be the best if you had some glass bowl with a topper, so you could close it well and leave in the fridge overnight.
Chop the garlic cloves and put them together with meat, as well as spices like salt, pepper, and onion. Melt 1/3 of achiote in 0,5 dl of hot water and mixed with juice squeezed from oranges. That is your marinade. There is nothing more needed so do not add any water. If you need more liquid, add more orange juice only. Pour marinade into a bowl where you placed the meat and mix it through well. Close well the bowl – with a topper or plastic film and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Cochinita pibil garnish – onions and peppers marinated in lime juice © Mexatia
Day 2: COOKING
The second day is a cooking day. Your meat is nicely marinated and ready for cooking. Pour marinade and meat into a cooking pot and bring it to the boil. When it boils, lower the heat and cook for 45 minutes, or until meat softens. Once cooked, take the meat out, but do not throw marinade because you will still need it.
Let it cool a bit and separate your cooked meat using two forks, pushing the meat from the center outwards. Discard any fat and be careful not to over-shred it. Place shredded pork back into a bowl and pour in the marinade. Add spices to taste. Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for another night.
Pulling pork © Mexatia
Day 3: FRYING
The final day has come! First of all, you need to take out the meat from the fridge and put it into a skillet together with marinade. You don’t need to add any oil, just cook it on low heat for approximately 30 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates.
While meat is frying, cut the onions and peppers and marinate them with lime juice and salt. Once meat is ready, heat up tortillas on a hot pan or in a microwave (make sure to put a glass of water next to tortillas – otherwise they would get dry). Serve warm tortillas filled with pork, onions and coriander leaves. Add some yummy guacamole for better taste.
Cochinita pibil © Mexatia
Original Mexican Recipe for Cochinita Pibil
Tasty Mexican dish you should definitely try.
- 800 g pork loin
- 1/3 of achiote package
- 0,5 dcl hot water
- 2 1/2 oranges
- 4 cloves garlic
- salt, pepper, onion powder
- 1 purple onion
- 1 lime
- 2 habanero peppers
- 8 corn tortillas
- Clean the meat from fat and cut into pieces 5 cm thick. Place the meat into a bowl, preferably the one made from glass and with the topper. Chop the garlic into small pieces and add it to the meat. Add some salt, pepper and powdered onion.
- Melt achiote into hot water. Squeeze the juice from oranges, mix it with achiote and pour in the bowl where the meat is. Make sure that everything is covered and mixed well. Close the bowl and leave it in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- Second day, pour marinade and meat into a pot and bring it to boil. When it boils, lower the heat and cook for 45 minutes, or until meat softens. Take the meat out, but do not throw marinade, you will still need it.
- Let it cool a bit and separate your cooked meat using two forks, pushing the meat from the center outwards. Discard any fat and be careful not to over-shred it.
- Place shredded pork back into a bowl and pour in the marinade. Add spices to taste. Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for another night.
- Take out the meat and put it into a skillet together with marinade. You don't need to add any oil, just cook it on low heat for approximately 30 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates.
- Cut the onions and peppers and marinate them with lime juice and salt.
- Heat up tortillas on hot pan. Serve warm tortillas filled with pork, onions and coriander leaves. Add some guacamole for better taste.
Cochinita pibil © Mexatia
Did you ever try cochinita pibil? If not, which Mexican dish is your favorite?
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