Mexican street food at its best
Too often you hear that the Boston area doesn’t have any good Mexican restaurants, and while it is true that we aren’t exactly San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Antonio when it comes to options for Mexican food, there are plenty of great places to head to in and around the city. East Boston is probably what first comes to mind, with its wide variety of Mexican (and Central and South American) dining spots, but many other great eateries can be found in communities with large Mexican and Mexican-American populations such as Waltham, Chelsea, and Lynn. Some top spots are also scattered throughout the region in areas you might not expect to find them, such as the fantastic Cielo in Braintree along with the focus of this review—La Victoria Taqueria in Arlington, an offshoot of a Beverly spot by the same name that has been wowing residents of this Boston suburb since first opening a bit more than two and a half years ago.
The vast majority of Arlington’s restaurants are located on Mass Ave, and those that aren’t on the town’s main thoroughfare sometimes get overlooked, including eateries on Summer Street, Broadway, and Medford Street, which is where La Victoria Taqueria resides. The dining spot is less than a block from Mass Ave in the center of town, but even though this part of Medford Street is basically in the heart of the downtown area, restaurants here have had a struggle over the years because there’s much less foot traffic than on Mass Ave, which makes opening a place on this stretch of road a risky proposition in some ways. But La Victoria Taqueria has really succeeded right from the start, and in some ways this can cause a bit of frustration—especially for those opting to dine in the tiny space, since when there is a line out the door, the line basically cuts the dining area in half, which doesn’t always make for the most pleasant experience. Because of this, the restaurant is particularly popular for takeout, but for those who don’t mind the possibility of people hovering in line while you eat, the space itself is actually pretty attractive for such a small spot, with lots of dark woods giving it a rustic and cozy feel.
La Victoria Taqueria tends to focus on Mexican street food, with the menu items being simple and inexpensive while also being made using fresh ingredients, so while the offerings may be familiar, the versions sold here are much, much different from those you might find at Mexican/Tex-Mex chains or some of the more popular Mexican-American restaurants in the region. Options at La Victoria Taqueria are limited to burritos, tortas, quesadillas, tacos, salads, and sides such as rice, beans, chips, salsa, and guacamole, along with something called Plato Mexicano, which consists of rice, beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a choice of meat. This last dish is so delicious (especially when teamed up with pork carnitas) that it is almost forgivable to completely ignore the rest of the menu and maybe do a double order if particularly hungry, but perhaps a better option would be to get a single Plato Mexicano and choose from any of the other items, none of which would be a poor choice. The tortas and tacos may get the nod over the other options here, with the torta being the obvious choice for sandwich lovers—especially when smoked ham and pork or Mexican sausage and cheese are added—and it is also tough to go wrong with the taco filled with shaved steak. A simple cheese quesadilla is an excellent option for those who aren’t really in the mood for meat, and the burrito with marinated chicken is another item certainly worth considering.
Arlington’s restaurant scene has seen its ups and downs over the years, and with so many closings in town of late, it does seem to be in a bit of a cold spell right now. But this is still a pretty good town for grabbing some food, with La Victoria Taqueria being one of the chief reasons to come here, especially if you’re in need of some food and don’t want to spend a whole lot of cash.
LA VICTORIA TAQUERIA. 12 MEDFORD ST., ARLINGTON. VICTORIATAQUERIA.COM