Sometimes the hardest place to be is at the center of the action. Gringos occupies a prime basement location that’s about twenty meters away from Roppongi Crossing—which might, perversely, explain why most people have yet to notice it’s even there. Things are still pretty quiet at this Tex-Mex bar, which opened in February. If there’s any justice, that won’t remain the case for long.
Roppongi isn’t exactly inundated with joints like this: the ever-reliable La Fiesta aside, anyone in search of an authentic burrito and margarita will usually have to look elsewhere. In carving out a niche for itself, Gringos sticks true to established formula—its website bears an uncanny resemblance to the homepage for a certain well-known Mexican eatery in Nakameguro, while the decor couldn’t be more obvious if they’d painted a cactus and a map of Mexico on the wall. Oh, wait, they already did that.
We arrive on a Friday evening just after the end of happy hour (6-8pm), but the waitress informs us that we can still get ¥500 frozen margaritas and bottled Sol by proclaiming “I’m a gringo.” We do just that, and the margaritas slip down a treat. The regular drink prices are pretty standard for this part of town: draft Asahi and bottled beers (including Tecate, Dos Equis and Negro Modelo) all go for ¥900, and cocktails will run you ¥900-¥1,000. Tequila slammers are also available (from ¥700), while sophisticates can take advantage of a limited selection of premium tequila. We order a deliciously smoky Porfidio Añejo, served in a wine glass with an accompanying sangrita; only when we get the check do we discover that this cost a cool ¥1,800.
While the drinks are decent, though, it’s the food that we’d go back for. The menu includes familiar staples like tacos, quesadillas and chili con carne, plus a few harder-to-come-by dishes like stuffed jalapeños (¥800 for five) and chimichangas (¥1,200). Burritos (¥1,200) are offered with pork or beef, but we try our luck and ask for a veggie version—and, happily, the Mexican chef obliges. It’s a real artery-buster, stuffed with refried beans, cheese and tomato, then topped with salsa, guacamole and sour cream, plus a spot of rice on the side. Oh, and it’s very, very yummy.
The waitress cautions that the cheese nachos (¥1,000) are pretty substantial, and she’s right: they come in an enormous heap, topped with generous amounts of guacamole and sour cream—something that other restaurants in town are apt to skimp on. Again: thumbs up.
All told, there’s nothing particularly original about Gringos, but it does what it does well. Next time you’re dallying around Roppongi Crossing wondering where to go for the night, don’t look too hard: the answer’s right under your nose.