Tacos Mexico: South of the Border in East Norwalk

kerry barlas

This California girl has a hard time finding authentic Mexican food on the East Coast that either 1) doesn’t come smothered in a cheesy sauce or 2) tries too hard on the “gourmet” front. But thankfully, there’s Tacos Mexico. Reminiscent of a classic taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District, this family-run former hole in the wall on the fringe of East Norwalk has expanded its digs to include table service, yet you still feel like Mama and crew are in the kitchen cooking for you. With nothing over $16 on the menu (and many items under $10), the portions are heaping and the fare is tasty and fresh, with a bit of kick to many of the dishes. All this makes Tacos Mexico an exceptional value and a great find.

I recently shared my top pick for Mexican eats with a few girlfriends over a quick lunch. Upon seeing the place in a small strip mall off the beaten path, they wondered how I could have possibly found it. And they even thought the neighborhood bordered on sketchy. Even more reason to love it!

However, when the food was served, my friends were quickly converted. Homemade chips and four varieties of salsas, ranging from mellow to fiery, started off our meal. “M” ordered my perpetual fave, the Super Taco, a platter filled with three soft tacos, made with savory meats, grilled onions and cilantro, piled on top of homemade soft white corn tortillas. This winner includes amazing guacamole (chock full of onions and tomatoes), Mexican rice, sliced carrots and radishes and a little salad. Mix it up by choosing from their selection of meats including steak, chicken, carnitas, pastor and chorizo. It’s an easy one to share, but why bother when you can get all this food for $8.49?

“K”, a big fan of Mexican food, was impressed with her Enchiladas Verdes, four chicken enchiladas covered in a green tomatillo salsa with melted cheese and lettuce. I veered from the traditional fare and tried the Camarones al Parilla, grilled seasoned shrimp, which were succulent with just the right amount of spice. At $10.99, this seafood standout that comes with rice and salad, is a super value.

Other personal favorites include the Taco al Pastor (marinated pork, similar in style to the Middle Eastern lamb shawarma) and the taco with spicy chorizo (Spanish sausage).

The menu is fairly extensive, covering the spectrum of Mexican food from Ceviche and Fajitas to Mariscadas (combination of shrimp, fish, calamari, scallops with garlic and pepper) and Tampiquena (grilled skirt steak served with guacamole, rice, beans and cheese enchilada). Every taste for Mexican fare will be satisfied, as long as you don’t expect to find a taco made with a hard shell filled with ground beef.

Tacos Mexico is VERY child-friendly. Kids will love the hearty, cheesy quesadilla, the nachos and the chips and salsa. The more adventurous ones might like the rice and bean burrito or the charra - an enfolded flour tortilla filled with cheese and meat/chicken.

Want to throw a fiesta at home or just don’t feel like cooking for a small dinner party? No problema. Tacos Mexico does a fabulous job of making gobs of great food that serves well at home.

At this time, Tacos Mexico doesn’t have a liquor license (they’ve applied for one) and your drinks will come in a can or bottle with a glass of ice. Or you can try the traditional horchata, a rice-based milky, sweet drink.

At Tacos Mexico, the food is presented rustically, with evident love and care. The courteous and attentive service is refreshing for a place this casual. The ambience is a little bright and doesn’t lend itself to “date night,” but the ever present soccer matches on the TV and the many Spanish speaking clientele (whom on recent trips I’ve noticed are starting to be equaled in number by us gringoes) make you feel like you’ve landed in the most authentic spot for the best Mexican grub in the area.

Tacos Mexico 82 Fort Point Street, East Norwalk. 203.866.6256

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