Two plywood banditos lean against a wall outside of Nachomama's in beautiful downtown Rock Hill. Their skin is as dry as week-old tortilla chips, weathered and worn, and their spray-painted clothes look like a pall. For eighteen days, señor, they have been waiting for you to return. They are famished.
We speak first: "Hola, señor! Dónde está el guacamole?"
"Don't guacamole me, sir," responds one of the cut-out cowboys. Then he tells a story. It is about an incident last week, just before sunset, when he was setting up camp. On the edge of the horizon, he says, "I watched you enter a Taco Bell. I saw it. I saw you." He looks to the sky, and continues.
"Señor Bohemian, you have insulted me. You have insulted the honor of my people. And you have insulted Mexico." Voice shaking, he pokes his finger into our chest. Nachomama's is a twenty-minute drive, tops, from anywhere in St. Louis, he explains. Is your time so valuable, your soul so empty, your tongue so dead, that you prefer filling your body with artificially flavored paste in five minutes to eating some of the most consistently great food in St. Louis by driving fifteen? "If this is how you choose to live your life, Señor Bohemian, that is OK, I guess. We, however, choose guacamole." He turns away, and leans against the wall.
Nachomama's, the burning ember in our heart, one of the hitching posts of happiness in St. Louis. Here, the kitchen doles out green guac dollops like ice cream at a county fair. When we're feeling spiritual, we call the restaurant "The Blessed Church of Nachomama's at the Hill Made of Rock." It occupies a physical location on Manchester Road, it is true. But, even more, the name Nachomama's fuels a galaxy of neuron-firing energy in our brains, everlasting, which could power a large villa. Nachomama's: a place on Earth, sí, but also a profound abstraction that pumps joy-juice through our brains like water through a cannon. Think: "Nachomama's guacamole." Prepare for overflow.
What's a big-ass fish burrito without a beer? Nada nunca nada nada nada! No. Nachomama's Mexican food: salty, fresh tortilla chips, three kinds of salsa, a pile of spicy beans, red rice, cheese, protein, fresh tortillas and maybe-sure-why-not a sopapilla with lots of cinnamon sugar and a big plop of vanilla ice cream as an endcap.
Which calls for...a Bohemia beer? Sí, por favor, muchas gracias. Made by the Cuauhtémoc brewery (who's also responsible for the lighter Carta Blanca), Bohemia the Mexican beer is named for a Czech state. It's a pilsner like Bud, but with more body, perhaps manifested symbolically on the bottle's label: a Mayan-looking dude wearing a big headdress made out of huge feathers, as though maybe he plucked the A-B eagle and made himself a hat out of it.
If Bohemia beer were a hat, it would be a floppy sombrero used for shade; inside the brown bottle is a crisp, come-and-go brew that's very slugworthy, especially after a few tortilla chips dipped in guacamole. Easygoing beers like Bohemia serve the same purpose in Mexican food as pickled ginger does with sushi: Both reset the taste buds in preparation for the next bite. So you might need two, because these people serve a big plate of food.