Osusume desu! Graffity Mexican-American Restaurant

Graffity’s new “Ninja Burrito” (all photos by Dan Moeller)

by Dan Moeller

I’ve had my share of Spanish/Mexican food in Japan. From Hiroshima’s Cusco Café and Tinto’s Restaurant to the do-it-yourself ingredients sold at Jupiter to the Visitor’s Day at the Iwakuni Airbase (which I went to solely to taste the delights of the on-base Taco Bell).

Cusco Café – Italian, Peruvian, Spanish and Mexican food – has a fair selection of dishes and nice staff, but is dimly lit and the one time I went my wife left with a stomachache. Tinto’s Restaurant (with Italian and Spanish fare) has an awesome and cheap lunch menu with all-you-can-eat soup and salad, and a handful of foreign beers as well. Jupiter is a great little supermarket for foreign eats with flat-bread tortillas, an assortment of beans and real cheeses, Mexican spices and sauces, and burrito/taco kits. As for the Iwakuni Taco Bell, the only day a year it’s open to the public, the menu is chopped down to one assembly line boxed-lunch with a burrito, small nachos, small churros and a drink for $7.50 – for me, it was quite a blemish on the shining image of Taco Bell.

So, searching far and wide, I’ve yet to find Spanish/Mexican cuisine that can top Hiroshima’s Graffity with their delicious Mexican and American dishes. What’s so special? The atmosphere, the drinks, the friendly staff with intriguing shirts, an arsenal of chow that will knock your socks off, and a location right under Hondori. As the legend goes – or my understanding of the employees’ Japanese at least – the younger brother of the family fell in love with Spanish cuisine while living abroad in San Francisco and was inspired to open up a restaurant in Japan in order to share this new-found delight with the masses.

The Graffity family

This Mexican diner (as it is labeled) is run by a tight family of four that are willing to open up to customers (without becoming too chatty). The scenery is full of large and small cacti, old skateboards, an old Coke machine, and limitless American memorabilia. There are couches and blankets if you want to get cozy, booths for larger crowds, and bar seats for anyone. With such a good menu, some might be surprised to find out that Graffity is also a bar. In fact, the selection of drinks might make you think it’s a bar first and a restaurant second. There are seven different Mexican beers (along with five Japanese and four American beers), different kinds of tequila spanning into the ‘teens, a ton of cocktails, whiskey, brandy, and soft drinks.

Dan recommends trying the “Mud Pie” for dessert

As for the menu itself, I could write another article on the subject, but I think I’ll just suggest trying the Santa Fe Burrito, the beef enchiladas, and (for dessert) the Mud Pie. Graffity definitely has some great desserts, but considering I enjoy stuffing myself with their Mexican goodness, it took me more than a few visits to actually make it to the desert page. Paired with chili dogs, steak, and pepperoni, the American portion of the restaurant is definitely visible in the root beer floats and banana splits. And, if you’re afraid of growing tired of a kitsch and cookie-cutter cuisine, you might be relieved to know Graffity is always experimenting with their cuisine and adding new dishes.

5 comments

  • Beck

    omg, mudpie looks amazing!
    For your next mission, I send you to “Otis!” a short walk south of the Abomb museum. They have incredible enchiladas, and one of the best vegetarian menus in Hiroshima, but I will let you tak care of the write up 😉

  • Matt

    Nice write-up! I’ll have to check that place out.

    As for Iwakuni, I’ve been to Friendship Day twice now and both times at the Taco Bell you could order from the full menu. Steak quesadillas, Mexican pizzas, double stuffed burritos, everything! Was the assembly line stuff set up outside somewhere or did you actually go to the restaurant in the food court?

  • Dan

    Greg, I will definitely have to check out Otis!…is it listed in Get Hiroshima?

    Matt, when I went to Friendship Day (I’m pretty sure it was last year), the assembly line lunch-boxes were served right from the Taco Bell counter. They even taped paper over the illuminated menu. Maybe it was only last year, and I got the shaft. I’m so jealous….

  • Matt

    Aww man, I hope the Taco Bell doesn’t continue that trend. Like you, the ONLY reason I went to Friendship Day was to get some Taco Bell. The first time I went was three years ago and they told us that Taco Bell wouldn’t open until 5pm or something like that. We ended up going around 4 and it was already open and looked as though it had been for some time. I also went last year around maybe 3 or 4pm and it was open like normal with the full menu, so maybe it just depends on the time.

    Maybe someone could do another article featuring the inner workings and secrets of the Iwakuni Base Taco Bell??

  • Greg

    haha, yeah I think it’s listed. I’m going to Graffity for a party tonight! Weeeee