Where to Tenoch Mexican, bringing tortas, tacos, and more to the North End. It is an offshoot of the Medford restaurant with the same name. The outfit also runs a food truck.
What for Red sauce in the North End. Well, salsa roja. It may not be the Boston neighborhood where you’d most expect to find intensely craveable Mexican food, but that only makes the discovery more delightful.
The scene Midweek, lunchtime, hungry co-workers settle in at tables and solo diners run in for takeout. The restaurant is a tidy rectangle of a space, walls lined in weathered wood beams and ceiling with silver tin-type tiles. There’s a plant on the counter, Mexico-themed art on the walls, and a string of twinkling white lights stretching from wall to wall. Victor Manuelle and Frankie Ruiz sing about pity and doubt in the background. A guy in a suit and yellow V-neck sweater with a color-block scarf flung over his shoulder waits for his order by the busing station. Men wearing ties underneath casual sweatshirts with corporate logos mill about. Women in knee-high boots shed floor-length down coats and earmuffs, sipping at jarritos in tropical flavors.
What you’re eating A torta choriqueso, a decadent sandwich of chorizo, melted cheese, beans, avocado, chipotle mayonnaise, and more. For extra flavor, add Tenoch’s vibrant chile de arbol salsa.
Care for a drink? If the restaurant is out of the creamy, almond-based drink horchata, try a Mexican soda in a fun flavor like tamarind.
Overheard Talk about flights getting canceled due to weather, work grievances, the gubernatorial race, and the delights of Mexican food. “I can take a vacation after the election,” one woman tells another. “The fact that he was our best candidate was not good.” Someone vents about a co-worker: “I used to work for free and busted my ass to get where I am. You’re going to ask me why you’re not invited to the meeting when you just started yesterday?” A regular tells a newcomer about the restaurant: “They started in Medford and they have a truck!” “See you very soon,” the man behind the counter says to him as he departs. A staffer explains to a diner the illustrated map of Mexico on the wall that shows each region’s specialty tacos. He waxes nostalgic about the taco stands of his homeland: “I don’t know why but it’s the best food at the outdoor places. If you ever go to Mexico, you must try.”
3 Lewis St., North End, Boston. 617-248-9537. www.tenochmexican.com.