HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Current taco situation in the area looking for a great taco

Thanks for any info.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Taqueria el amigo in Waltham...lots of threads on this

    1. I have met people in Mexico who assure me that there is no such thing as a "taco" but rather that it is a style of eating regular food that people happen to stuff into a tortilla and eat.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Tripeler

        That being said, eat stuff in a tortilla at Dorados in Brookline! Also too, there is no such thing as a "sandwich", it's just a style of eating regular food that people happen to stuff between bread and eat :P

        1. re: Tripeler

          Pizza as a foodstuff is also a myth: it's just a style of eating sauce and cheese and stuff on flatbread. My friends from Naples told me that.


          1. re: MC Slim JB

            An Israeli friend says just about anything can be rolled up in pita and called shawarma.

          2. re: Tripeler

            I am in Mexico right now and can buy tacos everywhere. Not sure about there not being tacos...

          3. Stockholders Steak House Weymouth / new item, fish tacos made with talapia and a great slaw fillign with real good sauce ,3 tacos with potatos and veg $17.95

            6 Replies
            1. re: Tucker23

              $18.... For tilapia tacos... In Weymouth


              1. re: ac106

                Yah I'll be running right over ;-)

                1. re: Tucker23

                  Annnnnd we have now definitively disproven the idea that sticking anything into a corn tortilla makes it a taco...

                2. Tenoch. Medford and soon in the North End.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Madrid

                    Seconded. Did not have tacos but if the torta and quesadilla I just had there is any indication, you'll be happy here.

                    1. tenoch is my go to place for tacos though i lament their limited menu.

                      I just had dinner at Topolobombo in Chicago; I bought just simple stuff, but I thought that it was really good. Excellent ceviches, excellent tacos, and something called momello.

                      1. Authentic tacos at montecristo in Mission Hill. Lengua and carnitas are good

                        1. saly, you will retrieve some really long threads if you do a search under Taco or Mexican on this board.

                          We usually stick w/ carne asada tacos and fish tacos (don't let anybody convince you that tilapia makes a good fish taco. tilapia = Cardboard.) and our favs are at La Verdad's taqueria cafe by Fenway stadium>> handmade corn tortillas, excellent sauces; carne asada is wood grilled; fish tacos are haddock; killer refried beans and wood grilled corn. Dorado is second. I am not a fan of Lone Star or any of the Waltham places. I'm wanting to try the tacos at Sabroso on Revere Beach and the Baja Taco truck.

                          28 Replies
                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Does la verdas use one or two tortillas for their tacos?

                            1. re: jgg13

                              One, and that's partly why I didn't care for their tacos. They turn into a soggy mess.

                            2. re: opinionatedchef

                              OK....I have never lived in CA or TX, never been to Mexico. But I did live 6 years in the U.S. outside of the Northeast, which unfortunately makes me more of a Mexican food snob than most people.
                              I would love to find good Mexican in Boston. It's not happening. Decent Mexican- as in food truck style tacos that bring out what Mexican food is supposed to be and not some weird interpretation. There used to be this food truck near the Harvard law school that had decent tacos, and as I mention below Montecristo in Mission Hill has authentic MEXICAN-style tacos: two corn tortillas, soft,roasted meats with no mixed in stuff, and cilantro and onions on top. green salsa on the side.

                              I just looked up your La Verdad place and it reminded me of when I was a kid and we used to go a place called "Spain's" which we loved, but served expensive American-Mexican food court type food. Tacos are not meant to have all that stuff on it, nor to be that filled. The idea as I understand it is to taste the food, not cover it up with guacamole.

                              1. re: fara

                                Taqueria El Amigo has the only tacos I've liked in the Boston area. They are what you describe. Taqueria Jalisco does it, too, but not nearly as well. I don't think it's really worth a visit for their tacos.

                                1. re: saria

                                  The quality at Jalisco has really been lacking the last couple times I've been. Particularly mid-week. The number of weekend-only specials and the relatively scarce business they get mid-week makes me think they're just doing a reheat job a lot of the time now.

                                  1. re: Luther

                                    Went to Jalisco on a recent Tues or Wed and thought it was terrific: had one each of al pastor, cabeza, res, and adobado, added avocado slices for an El Amigo-like especial effect. If I had a complaint, it night be that the meat fillings were laid on too heavy, but that's a quibble. Table salsas still great.


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      adobado? I thought they never had that in stock! what was it like?

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        They have carne adobada on their regular menu.
                                        Adobada is also known as carne enchilada. It's a fairly common taco filling. It's usually pork cutlets marinated in adobo (dried chiles, sometimes achiote, garlic, spices like cloves) and cooked on the plancha, but sometimes it's stewed meat that is shredded. It's not the same as New Mexican carne adovada, which is more a pork version of Texas red.

                                        1. re: saria

                                          saria, it is on the regular Jalisco menu but iirc (and this IS an issue sometimes) a few yrs ago when slim raved Jalisco, he mentioned that while adobado ( a fav of mine)it was on the menu, they never had it when he went there. but maybe i'm misremembering because that scenario is also one i did experience every time i went to Montechristo in East Somville.

                                          1. re: saria

                                            Omg, I love carne adovada. Is there anywhere in Boston that serves this? Someone who wants to be rich should open a New Mexican restaurant here and serve sopapillas and carne adovada and hatch chili everything.

                                            1. re: maillard

                                              yep. yep. and yep. the real stuff, with red and green chile.

                                          2. re: opinionatedchef

                                            This is why I take pictures occasionally, because my memory sucks. It was a Monday, I only got three tacos, and L to R, they were cabeza, adobado, and carnitas. You can see the lovely red color the adobado seasoning gives it.


                                        2. re: Luther

                                          Mostly I find their tacos underseasoned and soggy, which speaks to a reheat, because it sure doesn't taste like they're crisping anything up.

                                        3. re: saria

                                          I tried Jalisco recently. I had the enchiladas which weren't very exciting. I thought the quality and flavor of the chicken was really poor..not spoiled, just not very flavorful.

                                          Salsa's were terrific and I could have eaten them with a spoon.

                                          Friendly service..1 other table who appeared to be friends on a Fri.noontime lunch.

                                          I'd give them another shot just due to the strength of the salsas.

                                          Suspect I ordered wrong, but that was what I was in the mood for.

                                          1. re: 9lives

                                            due to CH raves, we have tried tacos at both Jalisco and that place in Waltham on Willow --and found both of them blehhhh - **but i'm only talking carne asada and pastor (or other pork) iirc.**
                                            Every time one of these taco threads comes up, i find myself google mapping both places to make sure that they are the places we tried (cuz maybe i misremembered). But each time i find that i didn't misremember. But boy, their fans really really love both places.

                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                              For the record I only get al pastor from a place that has a spit. I don't see the point in getting it otherwise. If there's no spit, I'd rather have carne enchilada. I also almost never get carne asada as carne asada tacos are sort of a very specialized thing and taquerias that make great carne asada tacos are usually known for that (and truthfully I really don't care much about carne asada when there is lengua and carnitas to be had).
                                              Carnitas is pretty much the standard for any taqueria, and a place that can't get carnitas right is one I won't bother with, but I won't condemn a place that doesn't make true al pastor for having sub-par al pastor, nor carne asada because carne asada is fairly mediocre in many good taquerias unless a place specializes in it. Taqueria El Amigo does very good, satisfying carnitas and cabeza. Better than any of the places I've had in Boston. It tastes like what I want from Mexican food, where La Verdad to me frankly does not (and their soggy one-tortilla tacos are unforgivable for me).

                                              1. re: saria

                                                I find this very interesting, but i wonder if your blanket statements in the vein of 'taquerias that do this are' or 'this is standard for any taqueria ' are perhaps spot on for Mexican chefed and owned taquerias in some parts of Mexico, but not always or ever applicable for the taquerias we have in Boston? They are just sooo far from Mexico in every way.We have a teeny Mexican contingent here and the chefs and owners of our taquerias are very very rarely Mexican . (And even when they are Mexican, that does not guarantee an excellent taco here. Just as it does not guarantee that those Mexican chefed/owned taquerias will all follow the same general techniques, formats, seasoning, etc). As important as the derivation of the chefs/owners is the fact that their customers are Americans, Americans who like what they like and want what they want regardless of how it is done in a given region of Mexico.

                                                For the record, I am not a fan of blanket statements about most things that involve individual human creativity, and I am particularly wary of blanket statements containing 'always' or 'never' about a food item in a country as big as Mexico. (...or India....or China...).

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  But I didn't make a blanket statement about Mexican food, and certainly not one that doesn't hold true. Areas in the north of Mexico feature beef more prominently along with wheat tortillas, but for a lot of Mexico (and the Mexican cuisine that we see in the northeast) pork is king, as evidenced just by the use of lard throughout the cuisine. I'm also speaking of simple taqueria fare, not all of Mexican food, because for example, upscale Mexican food doesn't have much presence here and it's not the topic at hand.
                                                  If for example I said that cumin is not a typical ingredient in Dominican food, that would be a "blanket statement" but it would also be true.
                                                  Because pork features so heavily in Mexican cuisine, especially the Mexican cuisine that we see in the northeastern US, carnitas are a good place to test a taqueria. Basically a lot of taquerias up here focus on simple braises, and I'm saying that's what they should really be judged for. Al pastor is made by roasting the meat on a spit, so a place that doesn't have one and instead stews the meat is not very likely to make stellar al pastor. So the al pastor might be serviceable, but it's definitely not what they're about.

                                                  From what I've read, you favor slightly Americanized Mexican food. That's fine if that's your preference, but to rate a place poorly because it's making more typically Mexican fare and you prefer more American-geared food isn't all that fair. It's similar to people who slam a good Chinese restaurant because they go there to eat American Chinese dishes and find them poor. (Not that I'm saying you're anywhere near the sort of irrational criticism that some of those reviews have. Please know that I'm in no way meaning to come off as snarky or combative, since I know tone is hard to discern.)

                                                  1. re: saria

                                                    sar, i think you are clear in what you intend to communicate and i have never found you snarky or superior sounding. I enjoy learning from you. But there is a whole legacy of CH discussions about 'authentic' and I have had problems w/ the assumptions that fuel many of those discussions. So my wariness extends over to your statements about taquerias in Mexico and how you apply your experiences there- here in Boston, a distant planet in a far off galaxy.

                                                    to clarify, i consider these to be blanket statements (they usually contain , by implication or actual word presence, 'always' and 'never') :

                                                    < carne asada tacos are sort of a very specialized thing and taquerias that make great carne asada tacos are usually known for that >

                                                    <Carnitas is pretty much the standard for any taqueria, and a place that can't get carnitas right is one I won't bother with, but I won't condemn a place that doesn't make true al pastor for having sub-par al pastor, nor carne asada because carne asada is fairly mediocre in many good taquerias unless a place specializes in it. >

                                                    My main point is that these statements are based on Mexico experience ,when they are mostly irrelevant in Boston. And when a taqueria statement IS accurate for some part(s) of mexico, it is not likely to be accurate for that whole huge country.

                                                    The carne asada statement is irrelevant here, where there IS no place that 'is known for' carne asada in Boston( though I believe la V should be.) So I just look for carne asada done the way i like it- on a wood fire, flavorful cut of beef,yada yada.

                                                    'Carnitas as the standard for any taqueria.etc.' Maybe that's true in parts of Mexico. Mostly irrelevant here.

                                                    I am very specific when i 'yay' or 'nay' a taqueria because i usually only eat or discuss carne asada and fish tacos and i try to always list that caveat in my comments. I agree with you that comparing oranges to oranges is essential.

                                                    I find it very interesting how you experience and judge taquerias in Mexico.Would that we had such a thriving delicious taco scene here...! But since we don't, better to compare what WE have with what WE have. So glad you've found carn.and cab. that you (and many others)like here.

                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      The thing is I'm not speaking of Mexican taquerias. In Chicago and San Diego for example you can get a lot of great carne asada. Not so in New York. You also don't really find much in the way of fish tacos in NY. What you do find is a lot of Mexicans who come by way of Puebla, so something like a cemita is very common. The majority of tacos are of the braised meat variety. Certainly very few do worthwhile carne asada, but they do some great carnitas, oreja, lengua, suadero, and carne enchilada, and of course chorizo. And a few restaurants have spits and make delicious al pastor. The truth is carne asada is just not that popular a taco filling among them, especially compared to carnitas and lengua, which I can't think of a single place that doesn't offer them, versus asada which is scarcely offered, and when it is isn't that noteworthy. It's just not a focus or a strength. Boston's Mexican scene is similar (though much more limited) to NY's (whose Mexican food is unjustly maligned by Californians who never venture outside of overpriced Manhattan "Mexican" restaurants). It is not like California's or even Chicago's (which is great).

                                                      1. re: saria

                                                        I'll stay out of the conversation about semantics, but as far as meats go, Saria is correct IMO. The weakest meats are usually chicken and steak (carne asada) at most Mexican (El Salvadoran) restaurants around here, while carnitas is usally one of the best.

                                                        Cultural/regional factors aside, I think one big factor is how the meat gets made. Most (if not all) do not cook the meat to order. This mean your grilled chicken and steak sit in a steam tray before it is served to you. So are the braised meats such as carnitas and cabeza (my favorite, esp from el Amigo.) But the braised meats don't degrade in quality as much by sitting (some would argue it could even improve the flavor.) Also, I will concede that traditional carnitas is often fried, so it can lose some if it's sear along the outside.

                                                        I think a good example of the preperations can been seen at Anna's (I know, not a favorite on the board, but certainly an efficient in their model of service.) Steak and chicken are usually pre-cut and just spooned into your taco/burrito/whatever, while the carnitas cut right in front you, same with al pastor. (Of course both are pre-cooked as well.)

                                                        1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                          Carnitas traditionally are long-braised (to tenderize the tough cuts it is made from, typically shoulder) and then fried to add some crispness. It's unusual to get much of the latter in our local taquerias.

                                                          If I didn't mention it earlier, Mission Cantina (in the old Beacon Street Tavern space) is doing proper vertical-rotisserie tacos al pastor, pineapple on top and everything, very tasty.


                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            On the point of trompos, I would agree that the ideal is pastor sliced off the spit, but the unfortunate reality is that most places that griddle their pastor are often serving a better taco. Trompo timing is everything. Even places that specialize in pastor, partly because they're high volume, will often slice before the meat has had a chance to attain the proper caramelized crust. Many places will slice and then finish on the griddle but they should really just not serve it until it's done on the spit. Multiple spits can circumvent this issue but those places are in a whole 'nother league. Trompo does not always trump the griddle.

                                                            1. re: Nab

                                                              I think we got lucky at Mission Cantina, then, because they only have the one, and aren't high-volume in the way of a busy taqueria.


                                                2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  Carnitas is is the thing to get at Jalisco, or at least it was when they were serving good tacos

                                            2. re: fara

                                              that's funny. la V's fish and carna asado tacos def let the fish and the beef take center stage.not at all an americanized place like you describe. hope you'll see for yourself some time.

                                              your taco truck/Harv law is Baja Taco truck; locations on facebook etc.

                                              just a suggestion: this whole "A for Authentic" bent is rarely a cast in stone one way street, and the more i have travelled and tasted, the more i have experienced that. For instance, the whole 'single or double tortilla tacos' debate -has lines on both sides; ask Mexicans from around the big country of Mexico and you will see that as well. Authentic and Always do not go hand in hand. Food is produced by individuals and there is just too much variety in individuals for 'Authentic' to Always be just one way.

                                              hope you will find some tacos that you love here; it's such a thrill when you do.

                                              1. re: fara

                                                If your only definition of "authentic" is two corn tortillas, soft meat, cilantro onions and salsa only, there are quite a few options around for authentic. Most of them are just not that tasty. Hell, you can get tacos fitting that description at any Anna's, just ask for them to make it without the pico if you find that an inappropriate salsa for tacos.

                                            3. While I'm a big fan of the downhome "authentic" style tacos at Taqueria el Amigo, I also like the more "upscale" tacos at Olecito (I've only been to the Inman Square branch), especially the shrimp one, which is tastier than most of the fish tacos I've tried.

                                              1. I am still haunted by the chorizo tacos I had at Pupusas Y Tacos Doña Sofia. And everything else on their menu. They were out of cabeza, but I hear that's great, too. Their fried whole fish was quite good as well, though bony.

                                                1. I Taco in Salem, two generous fish tacos = $8

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: drewinmrblhd

                                                    hi drew, this pedestr mall place gets alot of mixed reviews on Y--p. What do you like there? do you know what fish they use and is it deep fried? do they make a carne asada w/ fire GRILLED beef? i know, i don't ask many questions, do i.?th you.

                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      It is tilapia and lightly fried. Guacamole is made to order and very good.

                                                      1. re: drewinmrblhd

                                                        o.k. drew, thnx. i'm not a tilapia eater, but i'm glad you like em. If i call and find their carne asada is grilled, i'll certainly go try it.I hope you'll report back on that new Beverly spot some time- La Victoria Taqueria. I have major doubts, but boy would i love to be surprised!

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          I have read some pretty nasty things about tilapia as well. What are your reasons for being a non tilapia eater?

                                                          1. re: drewinmrblhd

                                                            Perhaps the usual knocks against farm-raised fish: it's mushy, relatively flavorless compared to its wild equivalents, often has dubious ingredients in its diet (like an excess of antibiotics and artificial coloring), and isn't always sustainably raised. I avoid farm-raised tilapia and salmon, myself.


                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              For me it's about the flavor. IMHO farmed salmon tastes pretty good, but tilapia just tastes like mush. I'd rather eat tofu than tilapia.

                                                            2. re: drewinmrblhd

                                                              per mc:
                                                              <it's mushy, relatively flavorless. >
                                                              Ev'one has their preference for fish tacos: some love mahi mahi and in grilled form; my fav is the lightly fried haddock used by La Verdad. I have not cared for (heavy crusted)cod at picco,heavy crusted _____at el pelon, pollock at Lone Star. Next to try is hake at Atwood's Tavern.

                                                    2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587040

                                                      This is a terific, long, detailed thread explaining what carne asada is in mexico, and bemoaning the reasons why it is not seen in the L.A. area and beyond. After reading it, I feel like I just went though a 'Carne Asada Intensive' course :)