If you think the pinnacle of Downtown Crossing/Financial District lunchtime Mexican cuisine reaches no higher than Fajitas & íRitas, itís time for a paradigm shift. Founded by Joel Espinoza in March, Real Taco is los nuevos chicos en el bloque, but isnít lacking in street cred; both Joel and manager Juan Valdez (yes, he knows) are from Mexico. " We have the Mexican passion, " says Valdez ó and the menu to back it up.
In keeping with the American super-size-burrito tradition, the " smaller " 10-inch Real Burrito ($3.95) is still thick with flavorful carnitas, peas, and an abundance of firm-texture black beans, all wrapped in a tortilla thatís a bit easier to handle than the Real Baja Tacos ($2.95), which are packed with cod and chicken. Despite the tortillasí tendency to rip, the crisp lettuce, carrots, and black beans make for a well-balanced meal, and the lightly breaded cod is surprisingly flavorful. The Real Taco Salad ($5.95) is a standout, featuring a not-greasy shell piled with Jack cheese, shredded lettuce, carrots, black beans, and quantities of chicken or steak fajita or carnitas, all topped with chipotle peppers.
Located around the corner from the monolithic Swissôtel on Bedford Street, Real Taco crams its generous entrées and seating for 18 to 20 into the usual small downtown space (signs on the wall admonish patrons to share their tables). The bright-yellow and red-brick interior offers a welcome break from an otherwise drab area, but unfortunately the harsh fluorescent lighting detracts ó expect disco effects when the ceiling fans are spinning. If grooving is your thing, check out the recently opened Harvard Square location on Mount Auburn Street. Why? Espinoza plans to raise the bar with a mariachi band and other as-yet-unnamed promotions. Weíll raise our salsa to that.
Real Taco, located at 86 Bedford Street, in Boston, and 83 Mount Auburn Street, in Cambridge, is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (617) 338-7611.