For all the devotees of Taqueria Autentica Mexican food truck at the Montclair Farmer's Market, the new namesake restaurant at 1035 Broad Street in Bloomfield will not disappoint. And for all those new to chef Michael Natiello’s brand of Mexican food (myself included), it will definitely not disappoint.
With the doors flung open to let in the sunshine and the breeze, the teal walls of the restaurant and wooden tables give the whole place an almost beachy vibe. The food too tastes like it was prepared somewhere beachy, with its fresh, local ingredients and tangy flavor combinations.
Taqueria Autentica uses locally raised, hormone and antibiotic free chicken, USDA Prime skirt steak, and organic and locally raised produce and dairy whenever possible- resulting in really clean, satisfying food that leaves you feeling good when you’re done. That’s not often the case after eating typically greasy Mexican food! The price points are also amazing, with the most expensive item on the menu (the steak quesadillas) clocking in at eleven dollars. Most items are between two and five dollars.
The menu offers something for everyone. Diners can pick individual tacos to make up a plate of their favorites, including carnitas(slow-cooked pork), carne asada (skirt steak), house made chorizo, street-style zucchini, nopalitos (tender cactus), and even a vegan mushroom option. The tostadas, black beans, meat, or vegetables with leafy greens, salsa, queso fresco, and sour cream sandwiched between crunchy corn tortillas looked amazing on a fellow diner’s plate, as did the quesadillas, which can be filled with carne asada, chicken, or cheese. There’s even a hangover special- the chilaquiles, which includes tortilla chips with cheese and brothy sauce, an organic egg or chicken, and red or green salsa. Something to try at a later date!
Taqueria Autentica also offers salads, with add-ons like jicama, radish, nopalitos, avocado, and lime-honey or cumin vinaigrette. To round out your meal, you can tack on an order of brown rice and beans, or some delicious homemade guacamole and crispy homemade tortilla chips. For the kids, they offer locally raised chicken fingers with greens, and cheese quesadillas with or without spinach. Though all the kids (of which there were many) who were at the restaurant during my dinner seemed more than pleased with their tacos and grown-up quesadillas, with one eight year old patron going back up for seconds and then thirds! You can wash everything down with a selection of Mexican sodas, including pineapple soda, Mexican coke, and Mexican Squirt (sort of a cross between Sprite and Orangina).
After careful consideration, I decided to order the chicken tacos, with pico de gallo and crema Mexicana, the carne asada tacos, with grilled steak and salsa verde (a house recommendation), and the torta, a Mexican sandwich served on warm bread with black bean paste, pickled jalapeno peppers, queso fresco, chopped white onion, salsa, and avocado. You can have your torta made up with chicken, pork, cactus, or zucchini, and I chose pork at the recommendation of the chef. The tacos were amazing, needing no more adornment then a little salsa and a dip of guacamole. Served on freshly made corn tortillas, they tasted wholesome and gratifying. The torta was my personal favorite, with the perfect balance of spice and tang, crispy and soft. The pickled jalapenos give it a real kick, which is balanced by the mild avocado, and the grilled bread contrasts perfectly with the slow cooked pork.
For opening night, Taqueria Autentica sure had a lot of business on their hands. By six PM, devotees of the food truck and newbies alike flocked through the open doors, filling the restaurant and spilling out to the tables on the sidewalk. Taqueria Autentica also offers two delicious sounding desserts, which they will debut following the long weekend. If you have room after your meal, the Mexican pudding, with intense chocolate and a kick of spice, and the Bunuelos (fried dough) with a dipping sauce, are definitely worth a try. I know I’ll be going back for another torta and definitely some Bunuelos.
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1035 Broad Street