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Quick Bite

Mexican for the whole family at La Victoria

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Where to La Victoria, a counter-service taqueria in Arlington Center, across from the Regent Theatre.

What for Mexican street food from affable Alex Barrientos, who earned fans at his first La Victoria in Beverly. He works the register, greets customers, and sweeps the floors.

The scene A Norman Rockwell portrait, styled by Patagonia. Wispy women in vivid fleece, ladies flush from yoga class, moms with toddlers, and dads in sensible sneakers wait in line. Adults and teens share plates of chips, briefly united over fresh guacamole. New parents balance burritos with baby food. A parade of Medford Street passersby peer in the window; many are intrigued enough to enter.


What you’re eating Soft tacos ($2.85 each) sprinkled with onion and cilantro, burritos, and quesadillas. Fillings range from tame (Mexican sausage, marinated chicken) to adventurous (pork skin, beef tongue). There are also tortas ($6.50), hot pressed sandwiches on soft Telera bread: Try the “choriqueso,” a savory combination of smoky sausage, Oaxaca cheese, vegetables, black bean puree, and chipotle mayonnaise. Heat-seekers should request a plastic cup of chile de arbol for dipping. Prepare for a wait; La Victoria is still adjusting to its popularity.

Care for a drink? There are soft drinks, bottled water, Jarritos Mexican soda, and horchata, a creamy cinnamon-rice drink.

Overheard Apologies over spilled beverages; life’s little victories and negotiations. A man toting an infant crashes into a woman with two tots of her own. Horchata flies. Mom mops it up. “What’s horchata?” she inquires, handing over a stack of napkins. “It’s sweet, with cinnamon!” he beams, damp pants be damned. A bleary-eyed couple takes turns soothing a baby; dad looks longingly at his burrito but gropes for puree instead. “Have you made plans for Friday night yet?” a perky mom asks her teenage son. He blushes and reaches for guacamole. Another woman engages in a spirited smartphone game with a preteen. “You’re already up 10,000 points!” she squeals. (He is not yet old enough to blush.) “Don’t be sarcastic with all these short answers,” a young woman scolds her beau, who looks as though he’d like to dive headfirst into his sour cream. A sporty fellow escorts his wife to the door and gives himself a private thumbs up when he tosses his water bottle into the recycling bin, a perfect shot. A satisfied couple wave to Barrientos and amble into the night. “We’ll be back!” they promise.

12 Medford St., Arlington, 781-859-5503, www.victoriataqueria.com.

Kara Baskin can be reached at kcbaskin@gmail.com.