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.