On a recent, lazy, hazy summer day, the Lil' Kettles had a hankering for tacos. But the Lil' Kettles didn't want the tacos Mommy makes. They wanted tacos "like the ones we had in Mexico, Mommy!"
Just about one year ago, Michael Natiello opened Taqueria Autentica, the brick and mortar version of the very popular food truck by the same name. Hot From The Kettle was at Taqueria Authentica for their Grand Opening and Elizabeth Palmer raved about it! So, the Kettle's made the journey out of Montclair, and over to 1035 Broad St., Bloomfield.
Taqueria makes a somewhat haphazard appearance, albeit a charming one. A few tables are placed on the sidewalk. Inside, a couple of four tops, and couple of high tops are scattered about, along with a drawing easel for children, and boxes of table top games. A sofa with a table is situated in the corner, and four seat bar looks into the kitchen. The walls are bright blue, and wall art is eclectic. But no feature is more important for a restaurant than the gentle waft of olfactory aromatics. Savory scents of cumin, onions, and peppers, and the unforgettable and ever inviting sizzle of pork emanate from kitchen. Put simply: it's purely Pavlovian.
So let's eat! Since tacos are priced per piece, we went with four Carnitas ($2.75), slow cooked pork with caramelized orange peel and salsa verde. Delicious; the stuff Margaritaville dreams are made of. I could never resist Chorizo, so we also order two of the House Made Chorizo tacos ($3.50) served with spicy black beans and chipotle crema. The chorizo was great, with strong hints of clove, a bit of nutmeg, and a heavy dose of smoked paprika. Great stuff! The Lil'Kettles love mushrooms so we also added a couple of Hongos ($2.75), tacos with sauteed mushrooms with herbs and spices, and salsa on the side. Despite my loyalties to all things pork, I thoroughly enjoyed this vegan selection.
In the interest of coronary health, we also ordered Ensalada de La Bandera (oh, how I long for Bahia de Banderas), with jicama, radish, nopalitos, and honey-line vinaigrette ($6). We added the "with pollo" option ($3), which is crispy fried bits of chicken skin - the pork rinds of the chicken world. So yummy! A very worthy add-on option.
Next time we visit I plan on trying the Street-Style Zucchini ($3) with corn, poblano, tomatoes, crema, and queso fresco, as well as a torta ($7), a Mexican sandwich served on warm bread with black bean paste, pickled jalapeno peppers, queso fresco, chopped white onion, salsa, and avocado.
If you visit Taqueria Autentica on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, be sure to ask about the Chef's small plates, a sampling of seasonal preparations.