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Finding authentic food in unexpected places

By Ben Fine

Section: Arts

November 2, 2012

Taqueria Mexico, a mexican restaurant located on Charles street, is definitely worth taking a trip beyond the well-visited Main and Moody streets. It may not replace some of the pre-existing Brandeis mexican staples, but its authenticity and great deals give it a clear draw.

While the food at Taqueria is extraordinary, the atmosphere is considerably less appetizing. The plain wooden booths and tables, combined with unattractive plastic table sheets, dominate the restaurant. There are decorative plates lining the walls, and some artistic flare such as banners and paintings spread around the restaurant, but they are hard to see due to the room’s general darkness.

As a result, the mood would have been quite gloomy if not for the fantastic staff. Taqueria was also filled with a diverse group of Waltham residents. There were many couples, Waltham families, large groups and students: a wide variety that speaks to the restaurant’s broad quality and appeal. The wait staff continued to lighten the mood with their bubbly personalities and helpful advice. In pursuit of exploring the depths of the expansive menu, they created a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Parts of Taqueria’s menu may be too unfamiliar and foreign for most, but the majority of food consists of recognizable staples of Mexican cuisine and comes with high quality and amazing value. For the brave few, Taqueria offers a few dishes with beef tongue or liver, but there are more than enough chicken, beef, pork, seafood and vegetarian options for all tastes. Every meal starts off with an endless supply of fresh tortilla chips and two types of salsa. This may not be the best appetizer for dieters, however, as the chips shimmer with delicious frying oil when they arrive. The two salsas, one a smooth red dip and the other a more chunky consistency, were both spicier than expected but not outside the average customer’s threshold.

While the appetizers and endless chips were fantastic, the quality of the main courses was beyond belief. Many main courses, but not all, come with a side of rice, refried beans and a salad. It is the preparation of the meat, however, that makes each dish unique. The Mexican Chicken Plate, priced at $10.15, came highly recommended from the waitress—and with good reason. The chicken was cut into strips and cooked in a sweet red tomato sauce with a little kick. This was, without a doubt, the juiciest chicken I have had in Waltham, which is even more impressive given that chicken cut into strips is usually inconsistently cooked and rarely tender.

Along with the standard sides, the dish came with a separate plate of tortillas to wrap up the chicken, rice and beans. The tortillas provided some variety to the dish as they allowed for experimentation with different flavors on a smaller scale. Another favorite of the table was the Presidente, priced at $9.95. In addition to the rice, beans and salad, the Presidente came with two large enchiladas, which are stuffed corn tortillas covered in chili pepper sauce. One enchilada is filled with chicken and a green chili sauce while the other contains an entire red chili pepper stuffed with either cheese or beef and potatoes. Both enchiladas are served with a fair amount of cheese and sour cream on top

The best valued item on the menu are the burritos. The burritos, which include meats or vegetables folded in a corn tortilla, are all priced at $5.20. They are not served with sides but their size is more than enough to satisfy most customers, especially if price is an issue. The burritos are, in addition, far more varied than is generally expected, with options including  zucchini, mushroom or Mexican sausage.

Taqueria Mexico is somewhat of an underground sensation that should be mainstreamed at Brandeis. They have no menus on campus but they do deliver and an online menu is available. It might be outside of the box for most, but it is certainly not an experience to be regretted. Taqueria Mexico has some of the finest authentic Mexican food in Waltham and should not be missed.

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