By Meredith Munk, Special to The Herald
Calle Tacos and Tequila is not a run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant. With a small menu that features authentic Mexican food, Calle Tacos can transport your taste buds out of the Americanized Mexican food world and take you to another place. Greasy combo plates are replaced with lots of fresh vegetables and whole pinto beans, queso fresco instead of heavy melted cheeses and fresh, house made tortillas rather than deep fried taco shells.
A friend and I decided to give it a try recently and went to its newest location, in Snohomish Station, the second restaurant opened after CalleTacos in Mount Vernon. Our server told us that the owners have based their menu and recipes on authentic foods from Mexican street vendors, hence the name, Calle (street) Tacos.
A great way to try some of these new dishes and flavors is the happy hour menu that offers $1 tacos. These three-inch flour tortillas are filled with options like grilled vegetables, habanero chicken and steak and chorizo. The caramel asada taco holds thinly sliced steak and lots of caramelized onions; the chicken tinga is chicken and chipotle marinated onions. Both were three delicious bites of fresh tortilla and tasty fillings with optional mild green sauce and spicy red sauce.House-made tortilla chips (the only fried item on the menu) and salsa or guacamole are available.
Other tacos ($2.00 during regular hours) are steak with bacon and cilantro, pork and chicken with corn cream sauce and mushrooms. More daring choices are lengua (beef tongue), tripe and chapulines (grasshoppers.) The grasshoppers are toasted and served with chili and lime with green salsa, but the menu suggests you check for availability. I was going to try one, but was told they weren’t available. No, I really was. Considered it. For a second.
Their small plates menu is equally interesting, with seven choices, ($5 to $8.) These include plantain sopitos ($7), which are smashed plantains with your choice of meat and topped with cabbage pico de gallo and a poblano dressing; a baked chorizo portabella, nachos and wild cod ceviche. Fresh vegetables, sauces and house-made chips are examples of the owners desire to make their menu true to traditional Mexican street food.
I tried the wet burrito ($10) which was a large tortilla with rice, beans, queso, chopped steak and lots of fresh spring greens. It was lightly covered with a red pepper sauce and a mild white cream sauce. The red sauce had a slightly sweet, yet deep, rich flavor. The pico de gallo served on the side was fresh with tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
My friend ordered the pollo alla parilla, which had big chunks of grilled chicken breast, grilled vegetables and grilled mango salsa. The perfect portion of the moist chicken and the abundance of vegetables made this plate filling, yet not heavy. A small amount of poblano cream added a delectable flavor.
There are other entrées, among them fajitas, chili rellenos and enchiladas. A notation in the menu asks that you let them you know if you are vegetarian.
A full bar and several Margarita choices quench your thirst with your meal. Water is served with a decorative bottle conveniently left at your table. We found the service attentive and fast and our friendly server answered all our questions.
I would recommend this restaurant to anyone interested in trying something new and experiencing the more authentic flavors and dishes of Mexico’s street vendors.