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Cheap Eats

Tacos, flautas, and burritos at Taco Loco

Customers at Taco Loco Mexican Grill in Somerville eye the offerings.
Customers at Taco Loco Mexican Grill in Somerville eye the offerings. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff

Once in a while, you stumble on a restaurant in your own backyard, and wonder how you didn’t know about it. Taco Loco Mexican Grill is that kind of place. Located on Broadway, in the ever-evolving East Somerville neighborhood, Taco Loco is serving up some of the best Mexican food in the area. It’s not exactly undiscovered; it’s been open since the mid-’90s and accolades are hanging on its walls.

Mostly takeout, the little spot has a few seats beside the display case, and in a cramped attached basement, where several types of Mexican hot sauce and Wish-Bone brand salad dressing line the counter.

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Grab a stool and start with the tacos, which at $2 apiece should be part of every student’s unofficial meal plan. Filled with your choice of meat, and topped with pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole, it takes only two to make a meal. The steak is tender, the chicken moist and flavorful, and beef tongue so savory and satisfying, the wussiest eater in our group wasn’t even miffed when we she ate it. Same goes for chicharrones ($6), the deep-fried, crunchy strips of pork skin, and here, hunks of juicy pork shoulder. Oh, you eat only chicken? Not today you don’t.

But you will do just fine if you do stick to poultry. Start with a soft chicken tamale ($2.25), which is pretty tasty but can’t compare to the flautas — shredded chicken, steak, or pork wrapped in golden pastry, oozing with gooey cheese — what every lowly Hot Pockets wants to be when it grows up. A plate, which comes with rice, beans, salad, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream, is a deal at $9.40. Everything on that plate (minus the flauta and salad) comes rolled in a substantial steak burrito ($6.49). Vegetarians can create a fine meal here by substituting the mushroom filling, or adding extra helpings of flavorful pinto beans and rice.

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As the air turns chilly, a big bowl of steaming soup is looking appealing again. The humbly named beef soup ($10.99) is a medium-size mixing bowl of rich, clear broth, bone-in beef shanks, half an ear of corn, and large hunks of potato, plantain, and carrot. The side plate of fixings really makes the meal: Stir in white rice, finely diced red onion, and cilantro, squeeze in lime, and soak it all up with fresh grilled sopes (dense masa pancakes).

Speaking of pancakes, Taco Loco serves huevos rancheros and omelets daily at 8:30 a.m., giving us yet another reason to return.

In several years as a Somerville resident, I never made a trip to Taco Loco. Was it also under your radar? Let’s start making up for lost tacos.

Beef tongue tacos.
Beef tongue tacos. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff

Catherine Smart can be reached at cathjsmart@gmail.com.