Saturday, March 15, 2014

An authentic Mexican taqueria lands in Englewood

A Taco de Pescado is made with grilled fish and topped with an avocado slice at Taqueria Los Gueros in Englewood, where authentic Mexican food hasn't always been available.
A Taco al Pastor with spit-roasted pork, fresh pineapple, onions and cilantro on a single corn tortilla. Salsas and an incendiary slaw allow you to customize your taco.  




Englewood wasn't known for authentic Mexican food until Jesus Pita opened a branch of his popular Passaic city restaurant on West Palisade Avenue in June 2011.

I recall once ordering fish tacos at Englewood's Blue Moon Mexican Cafe in the mid-1990s, and the dish that was served to me was a soggy mess.

That's when I began exploring the Mexican taquerias, restaurants and wholesale food warehouses in the city of Passaic, where thousands of immigrants from Puebla settled.

When I still ate meat, we enjoyed many a taco at Brenda Lee's two locations in Passaic city, which is connected to Englewood by NJ Transit's No. 780 bus.

Now, the owners of two Taqueria Los Gueros in Passaic have opened a branch in Englewood, about a block from the Pita family's Los Maravillas de Tulcingo, a full-service restaurant. 

Let the battle of the pastor tacos begin.

Spicy green salsa, top right; fiery red salsa, top left; an incendiary slaw of onions and Habanero peppers, bottom left; and fresh lime are served with every order of tacos.
Jarritos is a brand of soda from Mexico that is made with sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup.

Diving in 

On Thursday, after a medical appointment in Englewood, we drove downtown to Taqueria Los Gueros, and ordered Tacos al Pastor for my son and Tacos de Pescado for me (an order of 4 tacos are $6 and $8, respectively).

The brightly decorated space is long and narrow, with high tables and chairs along one wall and the open kitchen along the other. 

The taqueria doesn't make the pastor tacos with fresh pineapple unless you request it. The fish tacos are made with two corn tortillas, pico de gallo (fresh, chopped tomatoes, onions and chilis) and an avocado slice.

The Burrito Mexicano (Carnitas) is made with a flour tortilla ($6). It's filling, but not very interesting. Stick with the tacos and tortas.
At Taqueria Los Gueros, pork for the Taco al Pastor is spit roasted in the style of Mexico's Lebanese immigrants. 

Fish tacos

I loved my fish tacos, which are made with grilled tilapia and corn tortillas, and gobbled each one in two or three bites. They were hot and scrumptious, and I made sure to add green and red salsas to them.

My son said the pastor tacos with onion and cilantro were delicious, reminding him of those we enjoyed at Taqueria El Califa in Mexico City.

My wife agreed after trying her takeout order of pastor tacos.

At El Califa, the pork on a vertical spit is topped with a fresh, peeled pineapple, allowing the taco maker to slice off fruit and meat with one motion into the corn tortilla in his hand.

The limited menu at the moderately priced Taqueria Los Gueros also offers sandwiches called tortas ($3 to $10), quesadillas ($7 to $9); and plates of eggs, fish or meat with rice, beans and tortillas ($6 to $10).

On Taco Tuesdays, five pastor, carnitas (pork) or pollo (chicken) tacos are only $4.99.

Taqueria Los Gueros on West Palisade Avenue in Englewood is one of four in North Jersey. The Englewood location is clean, and brightly decorated and lit, attracting taco lovers, above and below.


Taqueria Los Gueros, 46 W. Palisade Ave., Englewood; 201-408-5924. Open 7 days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Metered street parking until 6 p.m., except Sundays.

Other locations: 231 Monroe St., Passaic (1-973-472-1091); 210 Dayton Ave., Passaic (1-973-773-7245); 93 Route 17 south, East Rutherford (201-340-4361); and 304 9th St., Saddle Brook (1-862-225-9683). 

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