Where to: Los Amigos Taqueria.
Why: Because it occupies a prime sliver of Davis Square’s throbbing heart, where College Street, Highland Avenue, and Elm Street meet. Here you’ll find humanity on parade — people of all stripes, from college students to families to timber-chiseled oldsters, strolling by. There are also burritos, fish tacos, and quesadillas inside. Why not stray from Anna’s Taqueria every now and again?
The Back Story: Owner Dan Ustayev has cooked since childhood, working for his father at Christo’s pizzeria in West Roxbury. He began cooking at 16, changing up his dad’s menu bit by bit. Move over, cheese pizzas and Greek salads; hello, experimental toppings and subs. “I built his business a little more,” Ustayev says. Then he attended Babson College, known for entrepreneurship, and began to dream of opening his own place. Burritos seemed like a logical choice.
“I saw an opportunity in that area. I go to California a lot, and every single burrito shop there is unique; they have their own spin on how they do things. None of them are exactly the same. In Boston, there weren’t that many. I thought I could make something similar, with my own style,” he says. “This is why the menu is so different from a typical taqueria. You’re not going to find a coconut shrimp burrito in a regular taqueria or plantains in a burrito. It’s usually served separately, with sour cream and salsa.” (He likes to add spicy chicken.)
His first shop opened in 2012, just a few doors down from his family’s old West Roxbury pizzeria. Now there are branches in Brighton and Brookline, too. But don’t expect more expansions any time soon.
“Every kitchen has their own grill line. There’s no commissary. We prep everything at each location, and I want to keep the quality there,” he says.
What to Eat: Burritos. Surf-and-turf is a bestseller, stuffed with grilled steak, grilled shrimp, and squirts of smoky chipotle crema. The plantain is also popular, filled with fried plantains and mango salsa — maybe too popular, since there were no plantains to be found on a recent visit. Or choose your own fillings: coconut-battered shrimp; avocado crema; chorizo; sautéed peppers and onions; eggplant, corn, or mango salsa; fried eggs, served burrito- or quesadilla-style. There are also fish tacos (sautéed tilapia, beer-battered haddock, beer-battered shrimp), tortilla-free bowls, and chips. A chalkboard lists various salsas, ranging from mild to hot. For dessert? Churros or a grilled tortilla stuffed with bananas, Nutella, and those elusive plantains.
What to Drink: Fill up your cup with a Stubborn vanilla agave cream soda, horchata, or Jarritos.
The Takeaway: A pleasant pit stop in a neighborhood rife with burrito shops. But in a college neighborhood, is it really possible to have too many?
424 Highland Ave., Davis Square, Somerville, www.amigosburritos.com
Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.