The Boston Phoenix
February 3 - 10, 2000

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Tacos Lupita

El Salvador comes to Porter Square

by Sarah Lariviere

on the cheap
  • Pini's Pizzeria, January 27
  • New England Soup Factory, January 20
  • Café Creole, January 13
  • It appeared last December: a gigantic awning advertising "Mexican and Salvadorian Food," over a former pizza joint just outside Porter Square. The spot is now Tacos Lupita, a Salvadoran-owned place that isn't quite like anything else in the area. Inside, Lupita is more modest than its sign would lead you to imagine; the large dining room is sparsely decorated (a sombrero, a blanket, a poster of El Salvador), and Spanish television buzzes unobtrusively above nondescript tables. The open kitchen reveals savory meat on spits, and a woman hand-shaping tortillas.

    tacoslupita Tacos ($1.50) are filling; the small, thick corn tortilla -- a staple of Salvadoran cooking -- lies beneath a few bites of al pastor de cerdo (roasted pork), carne asada de res (grilled steak), lengua (tongue), or pollo (chicken), topped with fresh cilantro and salsa. At $6, the "combinacione plate" is the priciest choice on the menu; slabs of moist, pungent grilled beef lie atop canary-yellow rice and soupy pinto beans, with lime wedges for kick and corn tortillas to sop it all up. Burritos ($4) are available with one of the aforementioned meats, or cachete de res ("cheek beef"), or chorizo, beans, rice, and salsa -- all tucked snugly into a big flour tortilla and wrapped in foil. Oddly, there are three slightly different menus, in varying degrees of Spanish and English, but we had no problem navigating them. Service is friendly, but they assemble your plate more slowly than you expect -- and, perhaps, more lovingly.

    Tacos Lupita, located at 13 Elm Street, in Somerville, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Take-out available. Call (617) 666-0677.

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