Tacos probably aren't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of great food in Boston. And yet, Grub Street has spent the last few weeks discovering quite the opposite: We've trudged all over town and discovered fantastic tacos in amazing places, from tiny holes-in-the-wall up to places that specialize in splashy feasts. Here now, we present the 15 finest we've encountered in our research.
Of course, despite our diligence (and indigestion) we're sure we still overlooked a few. If you have favorites and we know you do definitely let us know in the comments. After our stomach settles down, we'll surely be back for more. After all, tacos are the perfect hand-held summertime snack.
What to Order: Hudson Valley duck tacos
384 Boylston St.; 617-859-8555 (See the Listing)
Brian Poe is a wild man. Even though he's now busy slinging antelope in Beacon Hill, he still finds time to whip up bafflingly delicious taco combinations at Poe's. We suggest Hudson Valley duck tacos, marinated in molasses and Coca-Cola, served with cranberry rosemary risotto and truffled cranberry glaze. Trust in Poe: He makes it work.
2 of 15
Taqueria El Amigo
What to Order: Beef cheek tacos.
196 Willow St., Waltham; 781-642-7410
You will need a GPS and courage to find this ramshackle taqueria in the concrete depths of Waltham. But, when you do, you will be rewarded with some of the most authentic, embarrassingly cheap Mexican food in the area. This juicy beef-cheek taco needs nothing more than a dapple of cilantro and onions.
3 of 15
What to Order: The Irene.
Locations vary; 617-209-9244 (See the Listing)
We've already crowed about the burrito iteration of the Irene, but luckily it comes in taco form, too. Two soft tortillas are necessary to capture pork-neck chili, Alex's ugly hot sauce, dollops of guacamole, cheese, and heaping piles of Fritos. This is food-truck fare at its finest.
4 of 15
What to Order: Baja taco.
12 Springfield St., Cambridge; 617-876-1374 (See the Listing)
Olecito's Inman Square branch remains its most consistent. An offshoot of the fancier Ole across the street, this narrow taco shack's signature dish is a bulbous battered shrimp taco topped with pickled cabbage, cilantro pesto, and chipotle mayonnaise. We've been known to down three at a time.
5 of 15
What to Order: Huevos vaqueros.
245 Mass Ave.; 617-441-8689 (See the Listing)
Yeah, we were a bit put off by the name, too. (Would they sell Red Sox hats alongside their tacos?) But we're delighted to report that despite the touristy moniker, Beantown Taqueria is the real deal. And in Kendall Square, no less! We nominate it for electrifying breakfast fare. Two messy tacos stuffed with jalapeno-spiked scrambled eggs, topped with adobo sauce and sided with refried beans will wake you up quicker than coffee. Counter-service only, so you'll have to carry that quaking plastic plate to a table on your own. Don't spill!
6 of 15
Lone Star Taco Bar
What to Order: Dallas spicy beef taco.
479 Cambridge St.; 617-782-8226 (See the Listing)
When Deep Ellum announced that they planned to open an adjacent taco bar, Boston rejoiced. And with reason: Lone Star lives up to its name, thrilling even the most jaded Texas ex-pat. Their Dallas spicy beef taco with mushrooms, chilis and longhorn cheese is a saucy puddle of fire. It sits atop a fried tortilla.
7 of 15
What to Order: Any of their tacos.
472 Shawmut Ave.; 617-262-5708 (See the Listing)
This sunny South End newish-comer is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, an authentic gathering place for tacos and bigger plates. It's certainly not as cheap as some of the other spots on our list, but it's far more comfortable than the glamorous Mexican showplaces to hit town in the past year or two. Wash everything back with a punchy spiced sangria.
8 of 15
East Coast Grill
1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge; 617-491-6568 (See the Listing)
What to Order: Chile-Crusted Black 'n Blue taco.
Restaurants and culinary trends come and go, but we cling to one truism: The tuna tacos at East Coast Grill are forever delicious. Their signature dish even feels a bit healthy, coupled as it is with avocado and lime-pickled jicama. It's a dreamy summertime treat.
9 of 15
What to Order: Fried chicken taco.
222 Berkeley St.; 617-351-0400 (See the Listing)
Michael Schlow's something-for-everyone Back Bay restaurant has a solid roster of tacos, and we're partial to the fried-chicken variety. It's slathered with a sinful, spicy buttermilk dressing. Not the most authentic taco on our list, but it's satisfying after a few margaritas just the same.
10 of 15
Uni Sashimi Bar
What to Order: Fish taco.
370 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-536-7200 (See the Listing)
Ken Oringer's newly revamped Uni has an unexpected treat on its menu: grilled whitefish, charred tomato salsa, and avocado cream cradled in tempura shells. It's a refreshing break from the restaurant's sushi and ramen.
11 of 15
Dorado Tacos & Cemitas
What to Order: The Dorado taco.
401 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-566-2100; (See the Listing)
We love the namesake taco at this cozy Brookline spot. This spicy battered pollock taco with salsa fresca, radishes, and spicy chipotle crema is a tiny taste of California in Coolidge Corner. Service is super-friendly, too.
12 of 15
242 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-232-0065 (See the Listing)
What to Order: Spicy lobster tacos.
Jeremy Sewall is a busy guy. In addition to running things over at Island Creek Oyster Bar and Eastern Standard, he oversees Lineage in Brookline. Here you'll find a delicious spicy lobster taco appetizer with avocado mousse and mango salsa. Unlike many tacos on our roster, these are hard-shell specialties (which comes in handy when scooping up that tasty mousse). Who needs a lobster roll?
13 of 15
What to Order: Anything on the menu.
44 Broadway, Somerville; 617-625-3830
Taco Loco, in the dusty shadows of Sullivan Square, is tiny. You will tote your tray to a narrow basement room and perch upon a rickety stool, all while a television blares in the background. What it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in homestyle warmth. We opt for the adobada pork tacos splashed with a smoky red sauce. There's also a glassed-in tray with daily specials like squash blossoms and tamales, spooned up by friendly servers.
14 of 15
What to Order: Tacos de chicharron.
24 Charles St., Waltham; 781-647-0166
Taqueria Mexico is another Waltham gem. It's a bit bigger than Taqueria el Amigo (with slower service, admittedly), but their chewy pork-rind (chicharron) tacos drenched in tangy green sauce are worth the wait. The rich, meaty treats come three to an order.
15 of 15
What to Order: Barbacoa taco.
Multiple locations and numbers (See the Listing)
As far as local chains go, Anna's gets our vote for consistency, quality, and speediness. Barbacoa tacos are new to the menu; the spicy shredded beef is topped with diced onions, cilantro, and a splash of lime. Ask for their secret-spicy green sauce on the side.