Casa Piquin’s two-ply tacos add structure. STEVEN DESALVO/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

For Montclair Local

In Montclair Eats, Food writer Steven DeSalvo compares dishes at Montclair restaurants. DeSalvo has a degree in Hospitality Business Management from the University of Delaware, and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels.

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Tacos might be the perfect food, or at least one of them: meat, fish, or vegetables cooked in all different methods inside of a tortilla with an array of sauces and condiments. The possibilities are endless.

This is why I wanted to sample Montclair’s taco scene and find a nice variety of this foldable food. The only rules I set for myself is that I would only include tacos on a soft corn tortilla. The three locations I visited were: Casa Piquin, Tacoria and Villalobos. All three of these spots offer completely different takes on tacos, and with the results were unequivocally delicious.

1 . Casa Piquin is the most traditional of the tacos I enjoyed. I opted for a carne asada taco platter, which came with rice, refried beans, chips and salsa: a serious value! The tacos are prepared beautifully and simply with diced onions, salsa verde and sliced cilantro leaves and stems (the stems provide a different flavor and a nice crunch. Try using some next time you make guacamole). After a few squeezes of fresh lime, I dove in. There were two tortillas per taco, which I loved. because it gave some structural integrity to the dish that was really needed. The beef was cooked and seasoned beautifully. This was a very elegant taco that exemplified all of the components distinctly. I made short work of my platter of three, and wished I had one more


Avocado tacos at Tacoria are smooth. STEVEN DESALVO/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL





2. At Tacoria, I went a different route. I ordered the fried avocado tacos: simply a huge portion of avocado battered and fried until golden brown with a chipotle aioli, cilantro, onions and Cotija cheese. This taco was an incredible experience of flavors and textures, as well as temperatures. The exterior of the avocado was crispy while the center was warm and almost custard like. The chipotle aioli along with the vegetables, herbs and warm toasted tortilla made for a truly special combination of spice and smoothness.

Villalobos tacos are packed with flavor. STEVEN DESALVO/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

3. I had previously featured Villalobos in my burger edition of Montclair Eats, however, I couldn’t write a taco edition and not include them, since they specialize in tacos. I opted for the Camarones (rock shrimp) taco: deep fried rock shrimp dressed in a chipotle mayo, fresh guacamole, crushed marinated tomatoes and romaine lettuce on a delightfully fresh tortilla. This taco is loaded with flavor and texture. Everything about it works beautifully together. Yes, please!

I would strongly suggest you try all three of these dishes. Your taste buds will thank me, but your waistlines certainly will not!

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