Taqueria El Amigo
196 Willow Street, Waltham, MA 02453
--- Winner, Best Mexican Restaurant in Boston Area, 2011 ---
Waltham's Taqueria El Amigo is pretty much what this website is all about, as it is about as perfect a hidden gem as you will find. First, it is located on a mostly residential side street in an area a good ways away from Moody Street, Waltham's main culinary drag; second, it is not the type of place that you would go to unless you were in the know, as it looks like a nondescript hole in the wall; third, not too many dining guides or restaurant Web sites seem to know about the place; fourth, it shares a building with a rather tough-looking bar; and fifth, well, the food served here is among the best of its kind in the Boston area. In short, Taqueria El Amigo is a real favorite of ours, and one that we are fortunate to have learned about.
Taqueria El Amigo is not much bigger than a walk-in closet, and it isn't exactly pretty; the outside of the place looks a bit rough, and the inside is rather stark, with little in the way of decor and only a few tables scattered in front of the small counter. But the folks who work here are very nice people, and the authentic Mexican food that they serve is tasty, fresh, and cheap. The menu has a number of familiar dishes, including rich and hearty chicken enchiladas with red, green, or brown sauce, and a pollo con mole that has a delicious mole sauce and lots of chicken to stuff into the steamed tortillas that come with the dish. Taqueria El Amigo also has tortas, taquitos, burritos, and chimichangas, all of which can be made with a variety of meats. One of the best items here is the guacamole, which is heavy on the cilantro, contains a mix of tomatoes and onions, and has a pleasantly lumpy consistency. If you think quesadillas are nothing more than bland appetizers like the ones you find in sports bars, think again; the cheese quesadillas at Taqueria El Amigo are out of this world, with improbably delicious mushrooms mixed into the mild and creamy-tasting cheese. Some items on the menu here are a bit more exotic (and not for everyone!), such as a beef cheek taco (about as rich a meat as you will taste), a burrito with Mexican sausage, and a chimichanga with tongue. Drinks include a sort of milkshake that can be flavored with various fruits, including melon, banana, or papaya, the last of which is heavenly and like the others, perfect on a hot summer day. They also have mango juice, sodas, and coffee. There is not much in the way of appetizers or desserts, unfortunately.
It unlikely that Taqueria El Amigo will ever become a popular dining spot, as it is a bit out of the way and, as mentioned earlier, it gets little coverage in the media. But don't let that stop you from trying this wonderful place, as this writer believes that the food rivals that of the best Mexican restaurants in all of Boston, and it surely blows away the Mexican chains in the area. It might not look like much, but Taqueria El Amigo is a lovely little hidden gem that certainly deserves more attention than it gets.
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