Taqueria El Mariachi -- Waltham -- GREAT!
I haven't seen any posts about this place before, so I'm feeling like it's a bit of a find. It's a total hole in the wall, at least from the outside -- once inside it's bright and clean. Very small, about 4 tables, a tv tuned to Telemundo for the futbol, and a little counter.
I've only been twice so far, but so far I've been wowed. The carnitas is like some sort of amazing Super-Pork, probably because they *clearly* do not stint on the lard. It's falling-apart tender, juicy, salty, just a bit crispy in parts, with a few small chunks of super-soft fat. I had their "tacos especiales" with this my first visit -- 4 small soft corn tortillas, with onion and cilantro and avocado slices and a really excellent thin hot sauce on the side. Cilantro-lovers might want to ask for a little more, but I was happy.
2nd visit I had the carnitas on a torta -- refried beans, onion, tomato, pickled jalapenos and a bit of mayo. The roll was a bit on the doughy side, not quite as good as at Tacos Lupita, but still pleasing. I also tried a regular taco with the cabeza -- beef cheeks. Unbelievable! Very similar to short ribs, with dark, deeply beefy, super-tender meat and some generous chunks of luscious fat. That, along with some nicely sweet tamarindo and horchata to drink, is all I've tried so far, but I intend to go back a LOT.
Oh, if you eat there you get excellent freshly fried chips with a very good fresh tomato-chile salsa, nicely presented in a little stone mortar. Also, the tortillas (for the tacos) were the best I've had -- very fresh-tasting and flavorful, not at all dry; I'm not sure if they make them there, but they do have a sign up saying that they sell them. But they look a bit too perfectly-shaped to be homemade. In any case, they're excellent.
The staff is very nice, primarily spanish-speaking, but pointing at the menu and using my incredibly poor spanish seemed to work fine for me. I've been the only Anglo in the place both times, I think this place has been WAY under the radar. I've been to nearby Taqueria Mexico in Waltham several times, but I think this place has the edge, at least rated on the all-important pork factor. They have a few weekend specials, including menudo and caldo de res.
Taqueria El Mariachi. 196 Willow St., Waltham. This is half a block off River Street, opposite the Gulf station, about 2 minutes drive from Russo's. Open until 10 most days, closed tuesdays.
We ate there last year on a hot summers day. It felt like being in Mexico with the one ceiling fan above not doing much and the refrigerators holding the cold drinks humming along to the radio. I really wanted to like this place but it turned out just ordinary or less.Stale corn chips. The dishes were ok but nothing to get excited about. The liquados turned out to be milk and strawberry Quick. I like the Taqueria Mexico in Waltham center much better.