Smack-dab in the middle of nowhere is one of the most delicious Tex-Mex restaurants I’ve found in Japan. Mike’s Tex-Mex is quite a trek from Shinjuku station, but their salsa and margaritas are worth it.
Mike’s is located at Higashi-Rinkan station on the Odakyu Enoshima Line. It’s a 40 minute train ride from Shinjuku, and there isn’t much else around the area. But somehow, it’s always packed, and a reservation is necessary after 7:00 pm. In total, the restaurant holds about 80 people: the restaurant 45 and the terrace 35.
If you’re going in the warm season, the terrace is the way to go. The restaurant has a large yard for children to run around and play in. It’s very secluded and walled off to give a comfortable, homey feel. If it’s too hot or the mosquitos are biting, the inside is just as comfortable with their casual atmosphere. There’s a bar and a large TV so you can catch your favorite sports game over nachos and Dos Equis.
We sat outside with the katorisenko mosquito coils burning next to us. Nothing feels like summer more than the smell of the burning coil and deafening sounds of cicadas. When we arrived at 6:30, there was hardly anyone there, however, a little “Reserved” sign sat at every table. By 7:00, the restaurant was completely packed. I was amazed that in a small country town, Mike’s seemed to be the most successful restaurant. Why is there a Tex-Mex restaurant in Nowhere, Kanagawa, and why were there so many foreigners?
We had taquitos for starters with a Bohemia beer and margarita. Although not frozen, I could taste the quality tequila used in my drink. The tender beef was covered in gooey, melted cheese and stuffed in a crisp tortilla shell. Every bite was a reminder of the restaurants back in Texas. Taquitos were followed by enchiladas and chimichangas. Real refried beans and Mexican rice! I couldn’t believe it. Spicy hot sauce, fresh cilantro, melted cheese, and quality meat—it was a dream come true. The monster-sized plates were too much for my stomach. Mike’s offers doggie bags and take away service, so no problem if you can’t finish your plate!
If Higashi-Rinkan is too far for you, there are several different locations across Japan at Sagamiono, Sasebo, Iwakuni, Okinawa, Misawa, Yokosuka, and Yokota. To complete this experience, Mike's would definitely have to add free salsa and chips to their service. A true Tex-Mex experience isn't complete without gorging yourself on chips and salsa before the meal arrives. However much it reminds me of home, it’s still Japan.