Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hungry for a good taco?

After writing about the Rocking Horse Cafe the other day, I couldn't shake my desire for a good soft taco. (See post, "My kind of Mexican food.") I didn't want to go far, so I drove about a mile to Rosa Mexicano in Hackensack for what turned out to be a terrific lunch in a beautiful setting.

I chose the cochinita pibil taco platter, slow-cooked pork shoulder that is shredded and topped with marinated onions. This is a great plate of food, enough for two people to split as an appetizer, and a good value, too ($11.75 at lunch).

The restaurant could call this the Three-Cup Taco. The plate holds a small cast-iron skillet with the pork and cups of red beans and chorizo, fresh corn kernels in mayonnaise and chili de arbol and a spicy salsa. I also got some salad greens, though it would have been more logical to serve fresh cilantro. (When I mentioned this to the waitress after the meal, she said I should have said something.)

I got five or six small, thin, freshly made corn tortillas, which were still warm, and went to town. I placed a small pile of pork and crunchy onions on a tortilla, followed by salsa (I had two others that came with the free chips). Two big bites and the taco was gone. I repeated this until the tortillas were finished and the waitress brought me more, at no extra charge. I washed down my lunch with one of Mexico's great beers, Negra Modelo.

Rosa Mexicano makes everything from scratch and it shows. It serves food that is clearly head and shoulders above every other Mexican place in North Jersey with the possible exception of Mama Mexico in Englewood Cliffs. But I prefer Rosa Mexicano, which stages cooking demonstrations throughout the year and often serves a free breakfast and lunch to the customers who attend.

Of course, what would make Rosa Mexicano perfect would be if its menu told us a little about the origin of the food and how it was grown or raised.

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