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Taqueria El Amigo: The Best Carne Asada Tacos East of Minnesota

There are only a handful of cuisines where I feel like I have the ability, and agency, to speak to the true quality & authenticity of what I'm eating. These include 1) Fast Food 2) Hot Cheetos and 3) Mexican Food. I've had the privilege of having the most incredible cook in my life - my mother. Growing up, we never really went out to restaurants, especially not Mexican ones. If I wanted Tamales, she'd make them; if I wanted Chorizo, she'd make it; if I wanted enough burritos made to last me the week, yep, you guessed it. As I reflect on my childhood, however, there was no meal more prevalent in my memory than a plate of tacos. 

Since moving away from Minnesota, or really, my mother, I've been on a quest to find quality Mexican food that satisfies all my criteria for a perfect meal - tasty, easy to make, and affordable.  Whether it's the addition of cheese, rice, or sour cream on my tacos, or the use of sauces that seem to  belong more on buffalo wings than tacos, I haven't been able to find the flavors and experience that resonate with me. Then, late in 2022, I came across a Yelp article that listed "Taqueria El Amigo" on their Top 100 list in the US and I knew I simply had to try it. 

Authentic to the core

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If you drive too fast past Taqueria El Amigo, you just might miss it. Located in Waltham, Taqueria El Amigo is a family-owned business run by Omar Timoteo and his brothers. Together, they've been in operation for just a few years, and have already managed to land themselves with several awards (Yelp and voted some of the best tacos in the US!), and have built a loyal following (read more here).

As you arrive, you are greeted by the large, waving "Tacos" flag. The outside of the restaurant is not very imposing; it is a small, white building that has some festive streamers along with a couple of small benches just outside the main window. Inside, it is full of life. The walls are completely decorated with culturally significant objects like Día de los Muertos decorations, sombreros, and quinceañera-like dresses.

Best Carne Asada Tacos in Boston

IMG_2158 IMG_2161  IMG_2162 IMG_2166 IMG_2170From left to right: Jarritos, Carne Asada tacos, Al Pastor & Carne Asada tacos, Me!, Tres Leches cake  

My Juan and Only Take: You will not find a better Carne Asada taco in Massachussetts, but some of the other items on my plate didn't quite hit the mark for me.

Let's start with the carne asada tacos. To me, this is among the best meat I've ever eaten on a taco. It is cut nice and small, cooked to perfection for a tender and juicy texture, and is packed with a nice burst of seasoned flavor. The red sauce I used for the taco was a tangy, spicy blend of tomatillos and peppers and became an instant hit for me. Finally, I could tell that the tortillas are cooked alongside all of the meat given the subtle frying effect and meat coloring I observed on both sides of the tortilla. All in all, an amazing bite. 

Where the meal fell a bit short for me was when having the Al Pastor tacos. Al Pastor is perhaps my favorite taco to order at a restaurant. In its peak form, the Al Pastor meat will be marinated in a sauce made from a blend of various spices, and is accompanied with a hint of sweetness from the addition of pineapple. The combination of these flavors creates a unique taste that is easy to enjoy. Unfortunately, at Taqueria El Amigo, the Al Pastor tacos didn't quite live up to my expectations. I thought the meat could have been cooked a bit more for a better crunch, and that the marinade lacked the depth of flavor that I have come to expect from an authentic Al Pastor taco. I still generally enjoyed the Al Pastor, but would definitely recommend the Carne Asada as a go-to on the menu. 

The Tres Leches cake was a nice way to end our meal. The cake itself was sweet and had an enjoyable, milky flavor. I do have some reservations about the texture as I did notice the top half of the cake was not as milky as the bottom half. The cake would benefit from using more milk in order to create a juicy cake that is consistent from top to bottom. Still, I would absolutely recommend the cake to people given that it taste damn good. 

Budget-friendly meals that are accessible to most

Perhaps what I loved most about my experience here is how reasonably priced the food is. For just $10.95, you can get four well-portioned tacos on your plate topped with cilantro and onion. Chips and salsa, as well as the tres leches cake were only a few dollars to order. Without hesitation, I can say that this meal is worth the price.



Juan and Only Score: Carne Asada Tacos: 10/10; Taqueria El Amigo: 7.75/10

I have high expectations for Mexican food, and given my background, I want to be transparent with you all as I come across it through my journey on this platform. The Carne Asada tacos are elite. The red sauce is both spicy and tasteful, and the way the tortillas cooked with the meat provide the meal with a lot of flavor. I have yet to find another taco in Boston that tastes this good. I lowered the overall rating because I wasn't completely satisfied with the other items on my plate. The Al Pastor tacos lacked the the spicy flavor & crunch you'd find elsewhere; the Tres Leches cake didn't have enough milk, meaning the top half of the cake wound up being on the drier side of things. Still, I would wholeheartedly recommend Taqueria El Amigo to you all if you are in search for an authentic Mexican experience!

Until next time!

The Juan and Only