As the Great Mexican Migration into Boston continues, I have yet to figure out my favorite new spot. Fort Point has been luckier than any other area of the city as it has received not one, but TWO new Mexican restaurants in the last six months. I tried Papagayo about a month ago, and a few days ago I checked out Temazcal for the first time. Even though both spots are going for the same upscale (Temazcal a little more so) and authentic niche, my experience at each could not have been more different! There were lots of pros and definitely a lot of cons about each experience so I thought I would compare them on each integral element of Mexican dinner: atmosphere, margaritas, chips & salsa, guacamole, stuffed peppers, enchiladas, and other entrées. Obviously some important items, like tacos for example, are missing from this list, I’m aware of that. For some reason I tend to order stuffed peppers and enchiladas over tacos, so if any of you have had other items at either restaurant, please comment and tell me about it to make this contest as fair as possible!
Papagayo photos via.
Papagayo has a lively and colorful space that instantly improved my mood. The bar is huge and spans almost the entire right side of the restaurant, so there’s plenty of room to hang out and drink at the bar while waiting for a table. 4/5 points.
Temazcal has a more laid back and romantic atmosphere that’s perfect for a date. Notice the picture of lights on the water, that is the view from anywhere in the restaurant! The whole side is open to the harbor and the windows slide to completely open up the restaurant. There is an 80-seat patio set to open this summer and that’s where you’ll be able to find me at least once a week. 5/5 points.
Papagayo offered pitchers of margaritas, which was perfect for our big group. Everyone loved the marg, my only complaint would be that it was a tad bit too sour. 4/5 points.
Temazcal offers a drink called La Casita, made with Herradura Silver Tequila, Combier and muddled limes. I was expecting a primo margarita here, but my first sip tasted like straight tequila. This would definitely be a good option if I was trying to get wasted on my first drink, but I honestly didn’t really enjoy the drink. 2.5/5 points.
3. Chips & Salsa
At Papagayo the chips and salsa are great. No complaints whatsoever. It’s easy to see that the chips are homemade and the large portion of salsa at our table had to be refilled multiple times. Bravo. 5/5 points.
Temazcal gives a salsa trio similar to that of Lolita. A different but welcome approach to chips and salsa. The trio comes with a traditional salsa, salsa verde and bean dip. I loved the variety here, all three were great. 5/5 points.
Papagayo offers table side guacamole which, in my opinion, is unbeatable. You can tell guacamole maker if you like it spicy (which I do), and everything is freshly muddled. The final result was the perfect bowl of guac. 5/5 points.
Temezcal served a respectable bowl of guac. It was lacking in flavor a bit compared to Papagayo but the presentation deserves extra points. Those bowls are so adorably festive. 3.5/5 points.
5. Stuffed Peppers
Papagayo’s Chile Relleno | Temazcal’s Chile Nogada
Papagayo’s chile relleno deserved an award! I loved it! It had the perfect layer of batter/crust around the outside of the chile, and it was stuffed with cheese which is simple yet authentic and satisfying. 5/5 points.
The Chile Nogada from Temazcal looked really good in theory but lacked in execution. It’s described on the menu as a carnitas filled chile with cream and toasted walnuts but the inside filling was refried beans with hardly any meat! The cream sauce was good and all but don’t mislead the customer. AKA… DON’T MESS WITH MY CARNITAS. 2.5/5 points.
At Papagayo I tried the enchiladas with salsa rioja. When I received the plate, everything looked promising, but the enchiladas were dry. Oh so dry. I couldn’t taste any sauce at all! Since the rice and beans were enough to keep me somewhat satisfied i’ll give them 1.5/5 points.
The enchiladas verdes from Temazcal were fantastic. There was a cream, queso fresco and salsa verde combo was a winner, and these were some of the best enchiladas I have had in Boston. 5/5 points.
7. Other Entrées
Since they came highly recommended by our waitress at Papagayo, a couple people in our party ordered the steak Fajitas. Everyone’s response was overwhelmingly positive and I seemed to be the only one who ordered an entrée I didn’t like. 5/5 points.
At Temazcal the Barbacoa was the recommended entrée. Beef shortribs braised in broth served with corn tortillas. The image provided on the iPad menu (iPad menu?! More on that in a second.) looked way better than the actual dish and the broth was too salty to even consume. The sauce looked like it was going to be delightfully savory in the picture, but it was just too salty. I actually sent the dish back, which is something I don’t normally do. 1/5 points.
8. iPad Menu = extra points
Temazcal gets one extra point for giving each guest an iPad upon being seated. That is awesome! I was tempted to throw it in my bag but then realized that would be pretty obvious when she came to collect from a party of two. 1 bonus point.
An underdog victory from Papagayo. Hey, the numbers don’t lie. In all seriousness both of these places are pretty cool in their own right — but still need to work on a few things. Go to Temazcal for the fabulous harbor views and insane patio. Go to Papagayo for the guac and margarita pitchers!