Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anna's Taqueria, Various Locations, Boston area

A few months ago I wrote to you about Anna's Taqueria celebrating their 15th year anniversary.  As I stated then, Anna's is a bit of an institution around Boston, often regarded as having some of the best burritos, with some of the fastest service, around.  Now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have realized that I rarely eat "fast" food.  This is not without reason. Often I feel that it is unhealthy, thoughtless food meant to serve a need, rather than a desire.  Now, I am well aware that there are places, all over the country, specializing in certain types of foods that they have found ways to serve efficiently, until recently I felt that Boston was devoid of this.  So when I was invited to sit down with Anna's Taqueria's owner Michael Kamio and try a variety of their foods, and hear their story, I jumped at the chance.  

Honestly, sitting and chatting with Michael was an absolutely joyful experience.  The passion and determination that he brings to his restaurant is infectious.  After growing up in San Francisco, Michael modeled Anna's after the burritos and tacos he grew up on.  He concentrates on fresh ingredients, makes his sauces and marinates his meats in house, and is constantly looking to provide the best quality, for the fairest price, that he can to his client base.  

We were served a variety of items- some stand bys, some to be released soon, some off their catering menu, and some of the more exotic offerings.  We started with their chips served with salsa and guacamole, and were poured glasses of two of their "aqua fresca's"- a Jamaica (made with Hibiscus tea) and Horchata (made from ground almonds, and some peanuts).  The guacamole was smooth, creamy and a bit tangy, and Michael was sure to tell us that it was designated as their "chip" guacamole.  That's right- they have two different types of guacamole, made fresh in house-the chip contains many of the typical ingredients, but also has sour cream blended in which give it the creamy consistency.  The guacamole
served on their tacos and in their burritos is without the sour cream, and concentrates more on the lime, cilantro and Serrano peppers.  The salsa, to my extreme pleasure- had some background heat!  I cannot tell you how hard it is to find any spice at all in salsa in this town!  Both of the aqua frescas were fantastic. The Jamaica was sweet and fruity, but finished with wonderful tea flavor, while the Horchata was smooth and creamy, reminding me more of a nutty milk than anything.  Delicious.

We quickly moved on to the taco portion of the evening- sampling their Al Pastor (shredded pork) which was bright, citrusy and clean on the palate, their newest steak creation that isn't yet on the menu, but features a spicy chili pepper sauce, smokey and flavorful, in the front of the mouth, but finishing with spice in the throat, and finally, we tried the lengua taco.  Lengua is actually calf tongue, something I haven't tried before, and so I requested that we definitely try it.  Cut into cubes, the tongue had a silky, yet chewy texture, and was incredibly well flavored with wonderful Mexican flavorings.  I can assure you, it was not at all scary, just try to remove any images of tongue from your brain as you chew.

Michael also served us one of their salads from their catering menu.  Bright, lightly dressed and very fresh, this was a simple salad of greens, fresh red onion and radishes.  It was dressed with an herb vinaigrette in which it was tossed just before serving to keep the greens fresh, and served with a wedge of fresh avocado.  It was delicious.  

Finally, our meal rounded out with cinnamon sugar cookies and Mexican coffee.  The cookies, which were soft and chewy, had great cinnamon flavor.  Mexican coffee is one of my favorite coffees, brewed extremely strong, topped with cream and cinnamon-it is a perfect cup of coffee, especially to sip on a cold night.  

Each item that we tasted last night was full of flavor, each layered with spice, acidity and savory.  Michael was sure to tell us that they are making their food in house, and replenishing what is available several times throughout the day.  He concentrates on serving good food, that the people like.  He often looks for new additions to the menu, keeps the ones that sell, and discontinuing those that do not.  Michael is a man completely connected to his business, knowing the minds of his clients, and listening to their desires.  I was also thrilled to know that Anna's recycles all of their bottles, cans, tin etc, down to the oil that they use. With a man like this at the helm it is no wonder that Anna's Taqueria is so highly regarded in the area, well and because their food is just down right tasty!      


Delicious Dishings said...

Mexican is usually an OK "fast" food in my book. There are so many fresh ingredients you can add to a taco or burrito. And Anna's is great! Nice review.

MelissaNibbles said...

I love Anna's!

In and Around Town said...

Great Review - would make me think to go to Anna's rather than another quick and easy place...Although the gas station burrito place is pretty good!

Jen said...

I love Anna's. Great review. I've been meaning to try the El Pastor.

Ivan Basch said...

Anna's is great. Hey Mike Kamio - contact me about opening an Anna's out here in Arlington/Lexington!

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