Taqueria, Tel Aviv2013-06-29
- Phone : 03-600-5280
Taqueria, 28 Levontin, Tel Aviv
It’s amazing to watch people react to seeing pork on a menu. It’s one reason I like to go Taqueria, since every time I go with someone new their eyes light up. It’s as if when they see that a restaurant has some kind of pork like product on the menu – their pupils dilate, the hair on their neck stands, and the story of BACON starts running through head.*
I had been to Taqueria before and needed another excuse to go back. I had won a March Madness pool between a few of my classmates and decided I’d take my small but meaningful winnings and share the spoils among all the “non-winners.” Only Anthony was able to join me, many of the others claimed “timing” as an issue, but I guess they were afraid of hearing me, a Canadian, gloat about winning a NCAA March Madness pool, and the creative ways I was hoping to include the words “Gonzaga” into the conversation. (It also might have to do with the fact that I don’t really know anything about college basketball but apparently enough to win – Go Lousiana!)
Mexican Food in Tel Aviv
Taqueria is a great place to go with a small group of friends. It’s a small but well spaced restaurant, with many small tables to accomodate couples and friends. If you do go with a bigger group, I’d suggest making reservations as they can just put together the tables for your group. Anthony was joined by another classmate Valeria, the two are perfect guests to have around in that they are both soft spoken, highly intelligent and chances are I could probably learn something new from them. Unfortunately for them, I am a goof-ball and on occasion like to test the boundaries of good taste.
For example I did mention to them that it is usual that in a conversation you should avoid three topics:
I then proceeded to tell them the story of that time I had sex with a reformed nun in a voting booth. (I’m really kidding, just making sure you are still with me.) (topic: sex)
More importantly it’s always fun to dine with Valeria who is a vegetarian, while Anthony on the other hand is the quintessential carnivore. She clearly being the yin to his pork-loving yang. (Pork-loving yang somehow doesn’t sound right.)
Most of the menu is sprinkled with spanish words like pollo (chicken), verte (green), pescado fritos (fried fish) and carnitas (little meats, but in most cases it refers to pork). It’s fairly straightforward, but it adds to the authenticity of the place. I find that this is one of the more authentic Mexican restaurants in Tel Aviv.
Valeria ordered the vegetarian burrito, while I started with the pollo verte, when Anthony seeing the carnitas declared “I’m ordering the pork burrito.”
And that’s when you see it. This crazed look in his eyes. It’s as if he’s seen a ghost made out of pig and needed to eat it. Anthony tried to explain to me how hard it was to find pork in Israel. Being not Jewish it was a bit of an adjustment for Anthony when he moved here for school. Even with the large Russian population, and their love for pork, he still hasn’t gotten use to how much of a specialty item pork could be at times. (topic: politics)
Sex, Politics and Religion
He regaled me with tales of him as a young lad roaming the fields in this place called “America” where pigs roamed free, and bacon would rain from the sky. He shared me his secret recipe for pulled-pork in crock pot. He told me that if he had a son he would name him Sir Francis Kevin Bacon the third. And the three I’s – the III – would be wavy, like bacon. That’s how much he loves bacon.
I on the other hand grew up in a tradition Jewish household where we didn’t mix meat and milk, had separate dishes and certainly didn’t eat bacon. The closest thing we had to having pork in our house was the copy of Charlotte’s Web on my bookshelf, but even that was filed under the “trief” section (which was next to self-help and astrology.) I get by fine enough with chicken and beef. That’s not to say I won’t eat bacon but I won’t go out of my way to get it or eat it. (topic: religion)
Valeria, being the vegetarian was probably thinking we are both insensitive murderers, when in reality she is quite non-judgmental of our eating habits. I did learn however she ascribes to the yogic/buddhist notion of purity and connectedness and that meat contaminates the body. With the amount of food documentaries I’ve seen, she is probably right. For now, it’s just fun to watch her sit beside Anthony, enjoying the purity of a very delicious burrito while he explains the intricate nature of the perfect pulled pork recipe (you have to add the BBQ sauce at a later stage so the sugars don’t over cook and burn.)
Best Mexican in Tel Aviv
Taqueria has good food, and even if you are “insensitive murderers” or “vegetarians” you will find something to eat. The chicken tacos I had were small so I ordered the fish tacos as a follow up, Valeria ordered the guacamole and chips and Anthony decided on — you guessed it — another carnitas burrito.
“You are ordering another carnitas? Do you want to try something different?” I asked. To which he responded quite beautifully:
I love pork
And pork loves you.
He devoured another pork-filled burrito with this crazed look in his eyes and a grin the size of Michigan, like he had gone to heaven on a cloud, that was wrapped in bacon.
You should get the guacamole, because Taqueria does it well. The chips that come with it are pretty standard, like something you’d serve while watching a basketball game (GO Louisiana ), so I’d recommend getting the nachos if you want a more Mexican dish – topped with jalapeños and sour cream.
The pollo verte isn’t anything special, the chicken was tender but I didn’t find it that flavorful. But the sauces are always a great addition. They have this diablo sauce that I recommend if you like spicy food.
The slushie margueritas are fun, perfect for a hot summer day. Since limes are hard to come by and expensive in Israel, you’ll have to settle for lemon. Even the food comes with lemon wedges, which is fine but unfortunate. Limes are the under appreciated cousins of lemons — Mexican food (and Florida key lime pie) did a lot to put limes on the map, and their slightly less tart juice is a great addition to the fish tacos or the guac you would have. Which reminds me —
I would STRONGLY recommend the fish tacos. I’ve had them twice already and they seem to get better and better. Crispy, and tasty, if you order one thing it should be that. Make sure they come out golden brown and are light and flaky inside.
And if you are with anyone that loves pork get the carnitas. Anthony would have given it two thumbs up if he took the time to breath while chowing-down on his burritos.
*** On a subsequent trip with other friends I learned you can get a burrito sans the tortilla and just have it on a plate. A nice option. ***
* The Story of Bacon is not real, but it is apparently something every young bacon lover knows and retells to other bacon lovers. Since I am not in the know of this mythical tale I can only share with you other bacon lovers understanding of the other white meat. Like the very funny Jim Gaffigan – Bacon.
Anthony’s famous 4-step pull pork
1. Rub the pork with salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder.
2. Let it cook in the slow cooker for a few hours with a bit of vinegar until it can be easily pulled apart
3. Add a little more seasoning and hot sauce and let it cook for another hour
4. Add BBQ sauce and let it sit for another 45min-hour
- Margaritas 28NIS x2
- Carnitas 38NIS x2
- Burrito Classico 38NIS
- Pollo Vertes 28NIS
- Pescado Fritos 28NIS
- Guacamole and chips 24NIS
Taqueria Restaurant Rating