The Boston Phoenix
May 28 - June 4, 1998

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Taco del Mar

Neato burritos in Central Square

On the Cheap by Frank Habit

Don't let the name -- or the logo -- scare you. Central Square's Taco del Mar doesn't really attempt to fuse the cuisines of Mexico and the North Atlantic, though it advertises itself with what appears to be the bastard offspring of The Frito Bandito and Charlie the Tuna. In fact, this cheery little shop dispenses fairly standard south-of-the-border (by way of Taco Bell) fare that is distinguished chiefly by the size of the portions and the quality of the ingredients. "Whatever you do, don't drop it," cautions a sign near the counter, and no wonder: the super burrito ($4.95) weighs in at about four pounds. It contains in one ambitious tortilla a sampling of pretty much everything you'd expect to find at a taco stand (rice, refried or black beans, salsa, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and a choice of pork, beef, or chicken). If you're not quite that hungry, or have weak biceps, the comparatively petite jumbo burrito is $3.95 and nearly as elaborate. There are also vegetarian ($4.50) and vegan ($3.95) burritos and simple side orders like nachos ($3.95). And, yes, you can order a fish burrito (cod with shredded cabbage, spicy white sauce, beans, and sauce, $3.95), and many people do (I counted seven in 15 minutes). The smoothies (six varieties, $2.95) come in yogurt- or fruit-based versions and make a good pick-me-up on a drab day. Nothing here is spectacular, but everything is fresh and excellent for the price.

Taco del Mar, located at 596 Mass Ave, Cambridge, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (617) 868-9525.

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