Eli Dancour and his brother found themselves in a situation familiar to many kosher restaurant patrons; they ate tacos that no one would confuse with authentic Mexican cuisine. But unlike the rest of us, Dancour has decided to do something about it.
“I’ve always been fascinated by Mexican cuisine,” said Dancour, owner and chef of Taquito. We were surrounded by so much authentic Mexican cuisine that it is not kosher why not open a place that is?
After much research, Dancour opened Taquito.
Essentially the only authentic kosher Mexican food on the East Coast, Taquito isn’t much to look at. And that’s assuming you can find it in the first place. It is a modest two-story building with a rear entrance accessible only by a walkway leading to a parking lot. Let’s just say no one is discovering this hidden gem without a treasure map.
But if you find your way through the door to the exposed brick interior, you’re in for a real treat. In fact, there’s so much greatness on the menu that I hope you’ll forgive me for trying to narrow down my suggestions.
When I was invited to Taquito, the first thing I tasted was the Nachos. Taquito has the advantage of being only two blocks from a tortilla shop and they make the most of it. Their fries are made fresh daily and then fried on site for an unmatched texture. They are then topped with their own short rib chili, guacamole and mango salsa. You’ll also get salsa roja and salsa verde on the side to add some heat if you like. The combination of flavors and textures make this item a must have.
Even though the nachos are filling, you really shouldn’t pass by the appetizers without ordering the Chicharrn Pollo. While the classic chicharrn is made by frying pork rinds, Dancour decided to replace the main ingredient with chicken. To replace the inherent crunchiness, Taquito uses skin-on boneless chicken thigh pieces. The plot is truly remarkable and has rightfully become one of their best sellers.
You can’t walk into Taquito and not order one, so my suggestion is the Potato Chorizo Taquito. This trio of rolled tortillas is stuffed with spicy sausage and potatoes for a bite to eat. But it’s the whole dish that’s the attraction. The taquitos are sandwiched between fried black bean paste on the bottom and a sunny-side-up egg on top. Add some pickled red onions, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayonnaise, and you have a dish that will please both your taste buds and your eyes.
If you go to Taquito to get something you can’t get anywhere else, the Short Rib Birria Tacos should be high on your list. Unlike the short rib tacos you might find at any number of kosher restaurants, birria tacos are very different. The birria filling is a stew made with meat, peppers, onions and spices. But what really sets these tacos apart is that the taco is fried (before it’s filled) using the fat from the top of the stew. This type of technique provides a real depth of flavor and a unique texture compared to a standard taco.
If you’re looking for something really filling (or just want leftovers for another day), I might suggest the Mole Short Rib. Served on a bed of Spanish rice with some pickled red onions, this dish is made with a sauce so ubiquitous that its name (mole) actually means sauce in Spanish. Certainly different from your standard Jewish recipe, Mole Taquitos are made from a blend of chiles, chocolate, cinnamon, and fruit. It’s a flavor profile that is almost never found on the fleishig side of the road, but tasting it might make you reconsider whether it should change.
Taquito hopes to be open for lunch soon (they also have plans to open outdoor seating), but there’s no plan for them to be open for breakfast. That being the case, you’ll just have to order their amazing Breakfast Burrito every time you walk in. Expertly wrapped with egg surrounding the other ingredients, this burrito is filled with chorizo hash, avocado, refried bean paste, and chipotle mayo. It might be a little spicy for some, but it all combines well for a very filling burrito that will somehow totally satisfy you but leave you wanting even more.
While there are many other items worth mentioning, you should know that you can order custom burritos or burrito bowls. The choices for what contains them are up to you and include most of the main features of the menu itself, so feel free to invent your elements however you wish.
As options for kosher food continue to expand, we hope to have more restaurants like Taquito. Dancour has made his decisions carefully and they are paying off. Whether it’s ruling out the mock cheese (he’s never been a fan) or deciding which drinks to bring (Mexican seltzers are available), Taquito is his vision of authentic kosher Mexican.
Go check out the view.
Taquito is located at 116 Clifton Avenue, Lakewood, NJ. It is certified kosher by the KCL.
Taquito is open Sunday to Wednesday: 18:00 – 00:00 and Thursday: 18:00 – 01:00.
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