Casa Villa in Stamford: Let Them Eat Tacos

Amy Kundrat


Taco: noun [tä-kō] 
A flour tortilla wrapped around a variety of proteins and often garnished with cilantro, as prepared traditionally with endless regional Mexican iterations. Add condiments such as cheese and you’re veering into Tex Mex territory. Compare them to the ubiquitious chain with the cute canine spokesperson, and consider yourself kicked out of the will. Best when served from a Mexican grandmother’s kitchen, a truck in Los Angeles or Stamford, CT.  
There are many who take their tacos seriously. And for the unfortunate few of them who live in Connecticut, at times it can feel like a futile culinary pursuit. The new Casa Villa in Stamford erases many of those painful memories with a new and practically posh incarnation at 622 East Main Street, in the space formerly occupied by Myrna’s.

In early 2011, owner Alvino Villa expanded his operation east, retaining the original west side space with its rabid following as predominantly a take-out spot. The menu and food appear nearly identical in both establishments, but the ample space, full service and exceptionally friendly waitstaff, threw me off my game. When it comes to tacos, I tend to prefer eat while standing, stuffing my face in the privacy of my car or while walking and leaving a trail of debris. This kind of elbow room and service at the new Casa Villa is a luxury one could get used to.


As I found my way to the list of tacos on the menu, I gave brief pause at the ensaladas, appetizers, the traditional soups and the fajitas (a Casa Villa specialty) but I stayed focused. My mission was tacos. So I suggest you do what I did. Grab yourself a horchata (a rice milk drink with cinnamon) or Jarritos and start ordering. 


De Pollo (chicken): Start here. Casa Villa’s de pollo taco is remarkably moist and flavorful for something as simple as chicken. A good place to begin because from here things get much more interesting. 

Al Pastor (marinated pork): The MVP. Marinated pork loin, fire-roasted slowly and served with grilled pineapple. The smoky pork pairs well with the grilled fruit. I could eat a plateful of these. Or two. This recipe must be a family guarded secret. If you can get your hands on it, call me.



De Chicharron (pork cracklings): It's time for a dance break. Small crunchy bits of fried pork? I dare you to turn down this salty, crunchy party in a tortilla. The layers of texture in this taco are one reason I'll order this again. The crackly meat, soft shell and crisp raw onion have exploding flavors and textures that play well off each with leaves of cilantro neatly teasing out each of the flavors.


Carnitas (pork): Carnitas are traditionally slowly cooked small pieces of pork. Translated from spanish, it means “little meats.” Translated by a non-spanish speaker like myself, it can also mean “little bits of heaven.” The pork is cooked slowly and there are bits of carmelization left clinging to the those little meats making you want to hang on tight to this taco. Or weep. Either is perfectly acceptable.


De Lengua (veal tongue): An intoxicating combination of salty, beefy flavor paired with a tender and slightly spongy texture makes this taco the best combination of flavor and texture. The de lengua is a contender. Probably second in line to the taco throne just behind the al pastor.
  Some things to keep in mind when ordering, devouring and wiping your plate clean of tacos. Most tacos come folded with two tortilla shells. I don't know why, but I don't argue this logic because it works perfectly. If I had to guess, I'd say the double walls prevent any one element from stealing the show. Also, condiments are an afterthought, so don’t expect them. It’s all about the simplicity of the protein paired with cilantro, onion and wedge of lime, with iterations and the liberties shifting by region. The perfunctory rice and beans that come with an order of 3 or more tacos, are meant merely as a palate cleanser.    

The entire Casa Villa menu is long on traditional Mexican fare and although I jump right to taco worship, the rest is worthy of some exploration. Casa Villa has several interesting soups that range from an ox tail to a mondongo, a soup typically made with tripe and vegetables served in a red chili broth. The other route you can go, especially if you stop by here for lunch, is to skip tacos and get yourself a fajita – a Lunch Break Chronicles favorite – or go the way of the torta or sandwich.

For a heartier experience, try a main course which are divided simply into proteins; pollo, carnes and seafood. Two dishes which I’d recommend are the Camarones a la Diabla and the Carne Asada. The Diabla boasts an ample pile of shrimp and onions smothered in a spicy red chili sauce served with rice and beans. The shrimp were cooked perfectly on our visit, offering a pop that belied a pitch-perfect cooking temperature and flavor more mild in spice at first that builds into a nice heat the more its consumed. The Carne Asada, a thinly sliced steak that is marinated and served with rice and beans has a welcome salty finish.


But let's face it. It's tacos that bring me to Casa Villa, and tacos that will keep me coming back. There are many who are thrilled for Villa's success and expansion to the east side, but none more excited than the taco-philes and Stamford dwellers who now have double the Casa Villa pleasure.

Casa Villa Restaurant is located at 866 East Main Street in Stamford, CT. Casa Villa Take-out is located at 182 West Main Street in Stamford, CT. 

Hacienda Villa, their Bridgeport location is located at 2810 Fairfield Ave, Bridgeport CT.  


Looking for other great spots for tacos in Fairfield County? Try El Charrito, Los Molcajetes, Tacos Mexico, The Great Stamford Taco Crawl, Los Portales, Tacos Mexico and Tacqueria La Michoacana. Have a great spot for tacos? Please comment.

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