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Jan 3, 2008 05:20 AM

First Great Meal of 2008 at Taqueria El Amigo, Waltham

We drove over to Waltham last night to try Taqueria El Amigo. Not an easy place to find if you don't know the area, but I know Waltham pretty well, so we found it without much of a problem. The place is about as big as a walk-in closet, perhaps about half the size of Angela's Cafe in East Boston, which is pretty small itself. They have maybe 5 or 6 tables, two of which were taken when we arrived. The TV was on at the counter, with a show not unlike a Spanish version of the Three Stooges on, and everyone in the place was laughing their heads off while watching (we were definitely the only non-Spanish speaking people there).

The woman waiting on our table (I'm thinking she was one of the owners?) brought us some tortilla chips with a basic salsa as well as a deliciously smoky brownish sauce with the seeds of chilis floating in it. Both were served in those traditional stone dishes that Angela's also uses. We ordered a couple of drinks--coffee, which wasn't very good, and a melon milkshake, which was pretty mild, but hit the spot.

We skipped over the apps and ordered two entrees. The pollo con mole, which came with steamed tortillas for wrapping, was fabulous, with a fairly rich mole that, while not quite as complex as the mole from Angela's, was absolutely delicious. The chicken was all white meat (sorry, folks!), and most of it was cut into long, firm strips. Rice and beans came with it, both of which were fresh and decent enough. The other entree--the chicken enchiladas--was every bit as good as the pollo con mole. The red sauce was moderately hot (you can get green or brown sauce with it, too), the ground chicken had a hearty, rich flavor (seemed to be a mix of dark and white meat ground together), and the tortillas they were wrapped in had a nice, slightly chewy consistency to them.

Our bill was almost absurdly cheap; two entrees and two drinks came to a total of $19.

Based on the one meal last night, I'd say that I still like Angela's Cafe in Eastie a little better (mainly because of their amazing guacamole and mole), but Taqueria El Amigo doesn't seem too far behind. I'm hoping to try them again over the next few weeks, as I want to try their tacos and burritos. They have some interesting options for meat, including tongue and cheek meat, so maybe if I'm daring, I'll go that route.

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  1. I'm always glad to hear when someone else has a great experience here. It was my favorite Mexican until Angela's opened, and I think you captured its virtues perfectly.

    You should definitely try the cabeza (beef cheek) tacos especiales. If you didn't know, you'd guess it was short ribs: rich and tender, on the stringy side like brisket but not gristly. I'm always the only Anglo in the place when I go, too, generally a good sign.

    Another place like Angela's where the people are so nice, you want to give them regular business. I believe the woman who single-handedly runs the front of the house is the chef's sister.

    1. I think it was MichaelB that first hipped the board to Taqueria El Amigo - and I thank him profusely once again. I like to stop by for their carnitas tacos especiale (I think that's what they're called) with onion & avocado before produce shopping at Russo's. Their carnitas is one of the great things to eat around here. Crispy, fatty, flavorful - yum. I also really like their salsas & sauces - there's a great hand going on behind that counter. They serve my favorite horchata in town - not too cinnamony, which I appreciate. The only thing I haven't liked is their pollo torta - the bread is all wrong and there aren't enough layers for me, but I'm spoiled by Tacos Lupita.

      5 Replies
      1. re: gini

        No aspersions on MichaelB, but chowcat was the first Hound who brought this place to my attention on this board when it was known as Taqueria El Mariachi way back in August 2005. I ate there probably once a week when I worked in Waltham, and Waltham has a lot of great lunch options. The name has changed, but it's the same people. I included it in my Dig roundup of Waltham restaurants and have been sending folks there ever since.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Yep, I liked your dig roundup of the tiny place - it's a great find. Not to get too technical, but looks like MichaelB pointed it out in April 2005: Gotta love a happy search function.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I bow to your superior Google-fu. I did search back as far as I could before giving credit where I thought it was due!

      2. We stopped by Tacqueria El Amigo for dinner last night. The space certainly is tiny!

        The food was great, and a very good deal. The simple salsa served with the tortilla chips was tasty, though I was disappointed that we didn't get the brown sauce hiddenboston mentioned. I had the chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. I'm no expert on Mexican food, but these were really really good, and a very filling portion. I wish I had been able to taste the mole a bit more, as it was sort of overwhelmed by the cheese and sour cream on top of the enchiladas, but it was still delicious.

        One DC got the vegetable burrito, which was alright. It was chock full of peppers, onions, and mushrooms, but not particularly flavorful, and a little salty for our tastes.

        The other DC got the carne asada chimichanga. I had thought (perhaps mistakenly?) that chimichanga were deep-fried, but this resembled more of a quesadilla - it was a gigantic tortilla folded in half and apparently grilled or pan-fried. It was enormous, especially considering its $6 price. Really flavorful and satisfying, too.

        We paid $17.75 before tip, and all left full. I will definitely be back.

        1 Reply
        1. re: fbf242

          Went today for the first time for lunch. Tiny place, but all the tables were filled (mostly with Mexican young men). Lots of caldo and tacos de cabeza getting served up here today. I had the chicken enchiladas with mole. Very tasty, although I agree with fbf that the mole itself was lost amongst the plate. The enchiladas (simple, tasty) had only a little mole, some melted cheese, but then were buried under shredded iceberg, chopped tomatoes, and crema. I think it would have been tastier and more authentic without the lettuce and tomatoes. Horchata was excellent, salsa was tasty (despite having to rely on off-season tomatoes). DC may chime in, but he tacos de cabeza, "the best tacos in Boston". We'll be back.

          As an aside, we went to Russos afterwards and the lines went all the way to the back of the store; haven't ever seen it quite like that before.

        2. Ah alas I love this place, but hate having to travel to Waltham to get to it. Rumor has it that they opened up a location near Coolidge Corner. The only problem is I can't find it in Coolidge Corner, anyone have an actual location???

          3 Replies
          1. re: Boston Scene

            It was Waltham's Taqueria Mexico that opened a second location in Coolidge Corner ( in the old New Taste of Asia spot at 1393 Beacon Street). There is only one Taqueria El Amigo.

            1. re: Boston Scene

              No, Taqueria MEXICO opened a branch in Brookline. It's on Beacon Street a couple of blocks west of Coolidge Corner.

              Taqueria Mexico
              CLOSED, Brookline, MA

              1. This place is amazing and next time I go, if I see english-as-native-language folks there, I'll assume they are chowhounders. The tongue chimichanga is outstanding. I had never had the courage to eat tongue but I trusted my DC who correctly said it tastes like pot roast. I will order it again. And in this thread, I learned what cabeza means and will try that too.