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Quick Bites

Taqueria El Barrio lifts up Boston’s Mexican food scene

Taqueria El Barrio’s tacos de birriaKatherine Taylor for The Boston Globe/Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe/file

Where to: Taqueria El Barrio, a Mexican nook near BU, from the folks who run Bergamot and BISq.

Why: Boston’s Mexican food will never rival, say, LA’s. But it is improving, bit by bit, place by place. Taqueria El Barrio is the latest to lift up the scene, distinguishing itself in the details: the array of flavorful house salsas that run up and down the spice spectrum; tortillas made by Springfield company Mi Tierra from locally grown corn; the weekend addition of birria, the goat stew that is a specialty of Jalisco but hard to come by around here. (You can also get a cup of bichi, birria juices with onion and cilantro, “the best cure for a hangover,” according to the menu.)


The Back Story: Servio Garcia, co-owner and general manager of Bergamot and BISq, is originally from Mexico. He teamed with BISq chef Alex Saenz and Luis Figueroa during what is already a busy year for the group: Over the summer they opened a mini BISq specializing in charcuterie and sandwiches inside Time Out Market Boston. But Taqueria El Barrio is a passion project for the trio. “Not to have a favorite child per se,” Saenz told the Globe last month. “It’s like your baby. You want to make sure it lives and breathes. You put all your love into it. We’re not made of money. We’re not trying to overdo it. We just wanted to open a place that can be successful and homey, and the people who work there can be proud of it.”

What to Eat: If it’s available, order the birria, a stew that’s rich and savory rather than gamy. Taqueria El Barrio turns out a very good version of tacos al pastor, marinated pork with pineapple and guacamole. The taco fillings are also available in tortas, Mexican sandwiches; there’s a torta ahogada on the menu, Mexico’s answer to French dip, a dish I’m surprised more chefs haven’t added to their menus. Fish and steak tacos are also good bets. Quesadillas and platos with beans and tortillas are also available. For dessert: churros with dulce de leche.


What to Drink: There’s a sweet, creamy version of horchata, along with other aguas frescas, such as tamarind and hibiscus. Mexican sodas are here too; beer is on the way.

The Takeaway: Taqueria El Barrio serves flavorful, reasonably priced food made with love. (Tacos are $3.99-$4.99, quesadillas $6.50.) It’s also open until midnight. BU students, welcome to your new neighborhood taqueria.

1022 Commonwealth Ave., Brookline,

Devra First can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.