Naco Taco – Central Square, Cambridge

Tacos are nature’s perfect food — what could possibly be better than a holy combo of meats, cheeses, veggies, and sauces all wrapped up in a warm tortilla?

We’ve been on a bit of a taco kick lately, and we ventured to Naco Taco in Central Square to satisfy the craving. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. The taco menu is full of fresh ingredients mixed together in funky flavor combos and each taco comes on a warm, slightly spongy homemade corn soft corn tortilla (ground and pressed in-house daily). The best part? The most expensive taco is $5, meaning you can order more than one without breaking the bank (we’d recommend 2 or 3 per person).  The menu also features tortas served on homemade corn telera, salads, and a variety of small plates and snacks meant for sharing.

While pretty much everything on the menu looked enticing, we were able to eventually make a decision after what seemed like hours of deliberation.  I went for the Bistec taco — tender and juicy grilled flank steak with avocado, crispy onions, and a slightly spicy chimichurri sauce — and the Duck Confit taco — a generous portion of duck covered in a perfectly sweet pomegranate molasses and topped with crunchy sweet potato sticks and shaved cilantro.  Nate went for three different takes on pork — the Al Pastor, a sweet and savory taco that came with charbroiled pork, onion, and cilantro all mixed with juicy burnt pineapple; the Cochinita Pibil, a combo of pulled pork, radish, and onion with a cilantro crema and a spicy chile de árbol glaze; and the Chorizo, which came with baby yukon potatoes, cilantro, and onion topped with a charred chipotle and tomatillo salsa.  All five tacos were incredibly flavorful and fresh and my only regret is that we couldn’t order every one off the menu so we could try the rest of the flavors in one sitting.

IMG_0552.JPG

IMG_0548.JPG

We also decided to split a half order of the Street Corn off the Cob — sweet corn niblets topped with crumbles of cotija cheese, tangy chile de árbol, a dash of lime juice, and cilantro.  It was the perfect addition to an already delicious meal (and honestly, if that’s what street food looks like in Mexico, then why are we still living here? I propose we all move South of the Border asap…)

IMG_0550.JPG

The menu isn’t the only great thing about Naco Taco, either. With walls covered in trendy murals, a cool outdoor patio tricked out with twinkle lights, live music, and a great location (right on Mass Ave. in Central Square), the restaurant has a funky, unpretentious, and relaxed ambiance that fits right in with the vibe of the neighborhood.

IMG_0554.JPG

TL;DR:  If you’re in the market for delicious, outside-the-box tacos, Naco Taco is a perfect spot for a quick snack or a full meal that is sure to satisfy.

Article 24 – Brighton, MA

IMG_3307

Nate and I recently found ourselves hungry and in Brighton, so we decided to stop in at Article 24, one of Brighton’s newest and coolest restaurants.

Article 24 in Brighton, MA

The restaurant is worth checking out for the ambience alone — exposed brick walls covered in trendy pop art by local artists, songs you’ve never heard of but would like to hear again playing from the speakers, multi-colored ceramic plates that go together specifically because they don’t match each other. In short, Article 24 is trendy with a bit of a hipster vibe, but in an unpretentious and approachable way.  

The menu can be described in the same way:  it’s full of classic pub food, sandwiches, pizzas, tacos, and other familiar dishes that all have a decidedly modern twist.

We decided to start with a bar snack and got an order of Pigs-in-a-blanket. These weren’t your average frozen cocktail franks, though. Article 24’s take on the classic hors d’oeuvre consisted of a perfectly grilled, all-beef hot dog wrapped in a flaky, buttery phyllo dough and drizzled with a satisfyingly spicy dijon mustard.

Pigs in a blanket at Article 24

With five “pigs” on the plate, they were perfect for sharing (or for shame-eating an entire plate on your own…no judgment here).

Image result for kevin malone pigs in a blanket

Then came the entrees. I went with the Papas Tacos — two overstuffed soft-shell tacos filled with crispy home fries, corn salsa, and a generous portion of some of the best guacamole I’ve had anywhere in Boston. The tacos were fresh, flavorful, and filling (but not overly so — it was a perfect portion for lunch). To top it all off, they were accompanied by a small ear of Mexican Street Corn, AKA my favorite thing in the entire world, which was grilled and slathered with cheese and a light, tangy cream sauce.

Papas Tacos at Article 24

Nate got the Tuna Tartare Sandwich, which came topped with spicy green beans, whipped avocado, and fried oysters on grilled wheat bread. It sounds like one of those how-do-those-ingredients-even-go-together type of dishes, but Nate described it as the most unique sandwich he had ever tasted (which is one of the reasons he picked it in the first place). The fried oysters gave the sandwich a dynamic, interesting flavor that combined with the spicy green beans to complement the tuna in an unexpected, yet wholly satisfying way. He kicked the entire sandwich up a notch by adding Sriracha sauce, which brought the dish to another level (and made it so I couldn’t have a bite…thanks, Nate). The sandwich was served with choice of potato — traditional fries, sweet potato fries, tater tots, or waffle fries — or, if you’re totally boring, mixed greens. Nate went with the sweet potato fries, which were the perfect amount of crispy, salty, and savory.

Tuna Tartare at Article 24

We left full, contented, and excited to go again and try more of what Article 24 has to offer.

TL;DR: With nightly events — like karaoke, bar trivia, live music, and weekend brunches accompanied by in-house DJs — and delicious food, Article 24 is a welcome addition to Allston-Brighton’s growing landscape of restaurants and bars and definitely worth a visit.

La Siesta Restaurante – Winthrop, MA

17022374_10154235006156957_8188767943104061538_n

Sometimes, you just have to get out of the city. Samantha and I didn’t get too far out of the city on this mini-trip, as we wanted to check out the food scene in Winthrop. Why did we pick Winthrop you ask? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. We were interested in going because it’s close to Boston, but it doesn’t feel like Boston. It’s also a beach town, surrounded by water and views of the Boston skyline which can be beautiful in the summer if that peaks your fancy.

So we knew we wanted to go somewhere, but we didn’t know where at first. An online search guided us toward La Siesta Restaurante, a hidden little gem of a restaurant serving authentic Mexican dishes and some seafood dishes too.

When you walk in, the restaurant had vibrant colors and patterns that portray a Mexican vibe. There was also a mariachi player that was going from table to table singing and playing guitar. For a Saturday evening, it wasn’t all too crowded, and we were able to get seated upon arrival.

The waiter, who was very friendly, started us off with some chips and salsa as we perused our menu choices. The salsa was super fresh and definitely had a bit of tanginess to it. The chips were warm and had the perfect amount of salt and pepper on them. As far as free starters go, it was one of the best I’ve had in recent memory, however, the waiter never gave us each separate plates at that time, which would have helped.

For our orders, I ordered the “tres tacos”, and Samantha decided on the flautas. Our food came out extraordinarily fast. The “tres tacos” was a great way to sample a bit of everything, as each soft corn tortilla featured a different protein. There was a grilled chicken taco, an al pastor (pork & pineapple) taco, and a carne asada(steak) taco – all with grilled with onions and cilantro. The al pastor taco was interesting – the pork shoulder with the pineapple combo was sweet and savory, The guacamole served on the side enhanced the flavor of each taco.

Tacos at La Siesta RestauranteThe flautas were fantastic. To be honest, neither of us had ever had a flauta up until this point, so I don’t know how good they were compared to others, but they freakin’ good here let me tell ya. You get two flour tortillas deep-fried and filled with shredded beef, topped with ranchero sauce, melted cheese, and sour cream.The outside was crispy and perfectly fried, while the inside was gooey and cheesy goodness. She put a bit of guacamole on the top and it made the thing even more delish. Each flauta was pretty generously sized. Paired with a side of rice and beans, we were pretty full by the end of our meal.

La Siesta Restaurante flautasAlthough we didn’t sample any drinks, the drink menu is a staple at La Siesta, and we were in the wrong not to order a margarita or something of the like. Next time we go back, we will have to pair our meal with one of the well-acclaimed drinks offered on the menu.

If you’re looking for a high-quality restaurant just outside of Boston, you should consider La Siesta. The service is fast and attentive, the food was outstanding, and the aura was authentic. Located in Winthrop it’s not too far of a drive from the city. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Dorado Tacos – Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA

IMG_2962

Dorado Tacos was always a place I would pass on my commute to work. As enticing as it was from the street view, I was either in a rush to get to work, or too tired after work to stop in. This time, we were finally able to try it!

When you walk into Dorado, the vibe is certainly noticeable. The interior flashes vibrant colors, and the music played is both hip and cultural. The vibe definitely matches what Dorado is known for around Boston – an eat-in/take-out place that serves authentic mexican and spanish dishes.

Dorado is a counter-service restaurant, however, if you eat at the restaurant (like we did), they will bring your food to where you are seated. The menu was affordable, with not many options over $10! Samantha and I went ahead and placed our order, and within 7 or 8 minutes, the food was served to us. Although the place is small, it has enough seating inside to hold a good crowd. There is also outdoor seating available along Harvard Street.

Samantha order a steak bowl, something similar to what you would get if you went to Chipotle or another chain – the difference being, the quality of the steak. The steak strips were grilled perfectly, and seasoned just right for a delicious, tender taste.

She also insisted on ordering elote – otherwise known as grilled Mexican street corn on the cob. The elote was Samantha’s favorite part of the meal. I myself am not a corn on the cob person, but I will say that corn on the cob tastes a lot better to me when it has spices and cheese on it.

I was in the mood to try something different that I hadn’t tried before, so I went with what Dorado might be best known for – cemitas. What is a cemita you might ask? It’s a Mexican sandwich served on a bread roll with sesame seeds. Here is a diagram courtesy of Dorado, hanging on their wall.

There are different types of cemitas to order. I went with the pork chorizo cemita, and it did not disappoint in the least. It was one of the times when you try a new food and your taste buds literally jump because they are exposed to something new (don’t act like you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about). The pork chorizo had an after-kick to it, and the cilantro added a nice spice that complimented the rest of the sandwich.

If you’re in the Coolidge Corner area, it’s worth the walk down Harvard Street to Dorado. Trust me, you’ll get great food at a good price, our guarantee!

For Mexican food just outside of the city, be sure to check out La Siesta Restaurante in Winthrop!