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Feb 23, 2011 03:50 PM

Area Taquerias Cont'd: Montechristo and Cantina la Mexicana

So, as could be predicted, the taco seeking obsession continues. yestday we sampled the El Salvadore outpost of Montechristo (yum) and Cantina la Mexicana (yum not).

At M they were 86'd on the Adobado pork filling, and we had the res and pollo tacos. The res (beef) taco has distinct and good (likely soy sauce based)flavor, with a very ample portion of meat for $2 ( and thankfully not minced into ground beef-like size). I missed the salsas of la Verdad but these res tacos were still better than so many others we’ve tasted lately. Btw, Montechristo’s salsa is really kind of funny(funny ha-ha) to me- it was like V-8 juice. I didn’t put it on anything but i did drink it! My Love liked the chicken taco; the chicken was certainly moist , but i wasn’t keen on the tomatoey flavoring myself. We both removed the shredded letuce. The beans are delicious, like a good bean soup w/ no spice presence and maybe a little herb.
If you do go here, make sure to try the pupusas and chicharrones, written up here:

The people at M are very sweet.

Wow, Roberto is still there, on site, after all these years.
I didn’t realize he was raised in Texas. What a nice fellow. I wish I could say lots of positive things about the food but I cannot. Chicken ‘empanadas’ with masa wrapping were moist and good. Beef tacos were worthless, like too many others. The chorizo and potato tacos seemed very well executed and generously filled, but you do have to like cinnamon in your chorizo. The fish tacos were fresh and well prepared, with even a nice chipotle crema, but the metallic taste of tilapia is not for me. We didn’t try the chicken tacos because the waitress said the pollo was just shredded, not marinaded or flavored. Perhaps CLM excels with their many entree dishes, but it was tacos that we were after. For those of you who are CLM fans, Roberto said they are doing a number of different coupon deals now so you might want to explore them.

Montecristo Restaurant
146 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

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  1. Thanks for the report OC, great stuff.

    I think your CLM critique is right on. I realized WAY BACK WHEN (yes, when Taco Bob, aka Roberto, opened the joint) that TLM/CLM did certain dishes very well, and others not so much. The beef, in particular, I have always found to be dry and relatively flavorless. The pork and chorizo, however, I've always found to be fabulous. I also appreciate the fact that they boil and shred their chicken rather than flavor it, bit that's one man's opinion.

    For my money, the best things to order at CLM are the tamals, the pork tacos, the chile relenos with potato/chorizo and the enchildas, spciy, which always are yum. I avoid theiir burros, tortas, anything with beef and their flautas.

    I'd be interested in hearing what others like at CLM.

    1. Been a couple of years since I've been back, but at Cantina La Mexicana, I liked the gorditas rellenas with carnitas, chiles rellenos, chorizo/potato tacos (two tortillas per), and a pretty respectable Margarita.

      4 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        oooh MC, i can't imagine you would feel that way about the margaritas here at this stage. he 'gave me' one to try; it was as bad as anyth out of a mix, and then he 'understood' what i wanted and gave me a passable one w/ some amount of real lime juice etc. Stick w/ andy's and chris' places for the good ones.

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          I don't drink Margaritas out much at all -- only got one at Cantina La Mexicana because I was reviewing it -- but at the time it was clearly made with fresh-lime mix and quality spirits.

          I'm sorry to report that even the East Coast Grill marg, long my favorite rendition in town, disappointed me on my last couple of visits. Tremont 647 still does a fine one. I got a very good one at Tico recently, even though their tequila pricing makes no sense.

          Mostly I just make them at home when the weather suits, and I'm just as likely to drink tequila neat these days.

          East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
          1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

          Tremont 647
          647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

          222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Oh no! When they opened the bigger restaurant they had a pretty crack team at the bar and the margaritas were good!

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              tremont 647 margaritas- sigh. THIS is the place that introduced me to margaritas, a love that carried me through many years. But i have been unable to figure out why they just aren't great anymore. I know it's not rocket science or quenelles, but there just aren't that many variables involved. It's still sauza gold, it's still fresh lime, but i think they purchase their fresh lime juice and maybe that product has changed? no idea; only know the last 2 times i've gone in the last yr or 2 (we used to go weekly back when jason and matt were there) it wasn't perfect any more; off somehow. Btw, if you dine on the Cal. coast you might be very disappointed in the normal margaritas out there. sauza is unfindable; it's all cuervo.yech.
              but then again, you may not be a sauza gold devotee. i prefer it to all other options but you prob have others you prefer. Anyway, Tremont 647 margaritas have let me down 'lately'.

              Tremont 647
              647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

        2. oc I have mentioned before that my experiences with TLM are a bit mixed, but they do dovetail with Bob MacAdoo. The other things I will mention are they have pretty good refried beans (Taqueria Mexico in Waltham is better on this account but TLM is better than most), I like the fruit drinks (better than TM although it does have agua fresca de jamaica), and I have had excellent enchilladas as part of a catered function but less good luck at the store. Although your focus is on tacos, the one thing I had thought would have been up your alley is checking out what ever Brandt Beef steaks they are offering (not certain which one is on the menu right now). Again that is another area where they didn't always deliver consistently, but definitely a huge improvement over their beef tacos and quesadillas.

          I couldn't follow the other link, but Montecristo is perenially out of the adobado which I have mentioned on other threads (and this is a somewhat common thread at several salvadoran taquerias) and their beef is heavy on the sazon (not certain about soy, but that would definitely give you a bit of MSG). One thing to note is that the Somervile Montecristo is completely different than Las Carnitas de Montecristo in Chelsea -- there and at several other taquerias in Chelsea, you will get flap meat pounded and then fried to order -- its the best of them. However, please don't order the chicarron there (which they sometimes substitute for the adobo on combo plates) its perenially overseasoned and just tough. Simply go 2 doors down to Tropical Restaurant and grab a serving of Dominican chicarron with a bunch of lines and stick with the carne asada at Las Carnitas (I am a fan of their gorditas which have house-made dough). Also as long as you are a banana fan, its worth ordering a side of fried plaintains with crema at local salvadoran restaurants.

          Montecristo Restaurant
          146 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

          7 Replies
          1. re: itaunas

            itaunas, as ever, thanks for your generous sharing. so glad you cleared up the montechristo thing because it had confused me w/ the blue of the M but no blue on the C (look at your post above) . Someone who knows how needs to write up a fact sheet for the Las Carnitas M.

            Gee, i know it makes for variety and lots more physical exercise, but wouldn't it be nice if just ONE place could have the best of all these different things? Ya really gotta be serious and have your notes with you- to go to certain places for certain things...........whew!

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              oc I couldn't follow the link above so not certain which post you are referring to and I have made more than a few.

              The menus and names can lead to a lot of confusion about whether restaurants are related or not. In particular there are restaurants which use the same graphics designer or translator which can lead to similar menus. There are associated restaurants (like the 3 Morales taquerias in Somerville) and sometimes they are opened by someone and then sold, so maintain similarities. I try to call differences out as best I can and be clear about names, but my writing has many limitations and to be honest the restaurant owners themselves shouldn't be relying on hounds to promote their menu (this also comes to your comment about consistency -- if it isn't good, don't put it on your menu).

              That said there is nothing similar between Las Carnitas de Montecristo in Chelsea or Montecristo Restaurant/Taqueria in Somerville. I like both, but for different things, and both fry to order which other East Somerville restaurants do not but some are good (Tapatio is in this boat, the carne asada is reheated and other stuff is under heat lamps, but I like their food.) I have posted pretty thoroughly about Las Carnitas de Montecristo (the chelsea one) in posts (some involving hiddenboston), I have always mentioned Montecristo in Somerville but perhaps haven't provided the level of detail you are looking for -- after writing an epic post about East Somerville I have tried to provide specifics about restaurants in other areas.

              I still think you might want to give Emiliano'z a try too and its pretty near to you.

              Update: I see that the chow auto-linking function has put Las Carnitas de Montecristo under Montecristo Restaurant in Somerville based on keywords. I used to try and provide correct places links and should do more, but I don't have any control over their keyword matching and spend at least half my posting time deleting wrong places links from posts. Chow isn't perfect and I liked the old interface, but truth be told even with its warts its easier for you to do research with the new interface.

              Montecristo Restaurant
              146 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

              1. re: itaunas

                itaunas, yes, i was referring to the CH autolink function, not you- as confusing.
                thank you again for all your guidance!

            2. re: itaunas

              i'm planning a trip this coming week to Carnitas montechristo for the carne asada tacos and Tropical for their chicharrones; are there other places in that area with some really excellent items (not offal related)that 'i shouldn't miss?' Maybe I should just do a google search for 'itaunas and chelsea'?i don't want to ask you to repeat yourself. thank you.

              i didn't get far w/ the google itaunas chelsea search. nice beach though.NOW i get it!

              my advanced chow search with' itaunas and chelsea' is doing the trick now so no need to bother you!

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                oc on the same block Las Carnitas de Montecristo you have Latino Restaurant (sorry I think I called it Tropical earlier) and a Guatemalan bakery both of which are checking out. Latino killed off a lot of their a la carte items (bistec encebollado, mofongos, etc) so just has what is in front of you -- warming tray with rice, beans, and guisados, warming oven with roasted and fried meats, and I believe sandwiches (chimis, probably a cubano, etc). Ask if the chicarron is fresh and get a small portion to go. At the Guatemalan bakery I grab what looks good or often skip it because I am too full. But these three give you a wide sample without going very far (and no offal as far as I can tell -- Tropical might occasionally offer 'chivo' among the guisados but its pretty rare).

                BTW, at Las Carnitas try a gordita if you can bring yourself to - the gordita has lettuce which I guess you aren't a big fan and crema, but the dough is hand made -- you can always order the taco with just onion and cilantro to offset it. Salvadoran tamales are a bit different than Mexican and while theirs are not as different (no chickpeas for instance, just a bit of broth in the dough and dark meat in the chicken filling) I like them. Aside from the chicharron I have been happy here (pupusas, soups, bistec), possibly a not so great side of fried yuca on a montanero plate but that is pretty common. They also have excellent Salvadoran beans and offer slightly different options with different plates.

                The other Salvadoran place I go to a lot is El Charrito across from Pollo Campero which I think has the widest menu of any of the restaurants there. My passion is the carne deshilada (shredded beef) and I like the options of beans they have (for instance blended small red salvadoran beans). I can't imagine that everything there is great given the huge menu, but its worth a trip. El Santaneco is above average too (also house made gorditas), Isla Bella is worth a stop (pernil, mofongos, chicharron de pollo), Sabor Especial is decent for pupusas, and you should try El Chalan particularly if you like Machu Picchu's Chicken (and yeah you can get offal and not so great arepas but that is easy enough to avoid :-). There is more that I want to check out more including a Honduran place on Central (I am not that keen on Las Palmas). There was a restaurant with a Mexican name opening on Broadway where the worst salvadoran one (San Felipe) was but from outside it look salvadoran or pan-central american (King Tacos and a couple of the others did have some Mexican plates weekends, but I need to check that out a bit more). Chelsea is definitely not as good as Lynn for Caribbean food and East Boston for Peruvian/Columbian, but its up there for pan Central American.

                Machu Picchu
                307 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                Pollo Campero
                115 Park St, Chelsea, MA 02150

                El Santaneco
                24 5th St, Chelsea, MA 02150

                Montecristo Restaurant
                146 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

                Las Palmas Restaurant
                44 Central Ave, Chelsea, MA 02150

                Sabor Especial
                83 Williams St, Chelsea, MA 02150

                1. re: itaunas

                  terrific, now i'll print this out in addition to the other things i found through the chow search of your comments. I've got my work (oh poooor me!!) cut out for me! thank you so much again for your generous time-sharing.