By Sasha and Tori Sickles |
There is something special about a meal you can hold in your hand. Tacos are one of the original fast foods: versatile, affordable, and completely satisfying. Tacos are both complicated and elegant in flavor, texture and origin. Lucky for us there are many places in our local Two River area to get a good taco and a few places stood out loud and proud with their offerings. After taste-testing quite a few, we realized some significant things. Protein is key: the meat, fish, or veggies must be tender, flavorful and never, ever dry. Sauces absolutely matter and should enhance the main ingredient not hide it. And the tortilla should pull together the entire meal, so there’s something to consider when you have a choice between homemade corn tortillas or white flour. So with that, let’s begin and end with something classic and a few tacos with plenty of twists!
INTERNATIONAL MEXICAN FOOD
Once we walked into International Mexican Food on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank, we felt welcome and taken care of by the warm and friendly staff. You could see the cooks behind a cloud of smoke in the back corner of the restaurant, families and friends conversing over their delicious plates of food, and a line of people waiting to order and bite into their favorite tacos, cemitas and quesadillas. Something about this local spot was very confident, so we proceeded to order confidently. The Tacos Al Pastor con Queso (Pork Shoulder with Cheese) ($10) was piping hot and beautiful in presentation. The pork was tender, the cheese was perfection, and the cilantro gave these tacos an added zing! We followed with the Tacos Pollo (Chicken), and the Tacos Bistek (Steak). The perfectly roasted proteins hit all the right marks. Corn tortillas gently cradled these awesomely cooked meats. We were given fresh slices of lime which we generously squeezed all over the tacos. The lime flavor really elevated these ingredients, as well as the crunchy cold radishes we were given to cool down from the heat of the spicy sauces. This Mexican spot in Red Bank should be named a national treasure and all you taco fiends should visit soon!
MOGO KOREAN FUSION TACOS
There is always something new to discover in Asbury Park. MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos was a very lovely find on a perfect spring night. We had originally tasted these carefully created Korean tacos on the Asbury Park Beach & Boardwalk a few years ago. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that they opened up a flagship location on Cookman Avenue in 2013. With a casual setup, brightly colored walls, and comfor table high-top tables and booths this eatery has become a downtown staple. On this night, we opted for their famous Fish Taco ($4). The taco was filled to the brim with lightly floured cod, a pickled onion salad, and a zesty mayo sauce all on a flour tortilla. Each bite was perfectly seasoned, packed with flavor, and had just the right texture from the onion salad. We’re looking forward to going back and trying more of their delectable bites.
LOTERÍA (THE COMPLEX AP)
We walked through one bar, an octopus hallway, and turned left at the Italian restaurant to find this taqueria. Loteria is beautiful with brightly colored piñatas hanging like ornaments from the ceiling. Shrouded in soft lights and bold decorations this place makes a great date spot, a place to celebrate, and a fun stop for two hungry sisters. The menu has some of the best Mexican street food on the Jersey shore, but it took us less than two minutes to pick the Carne Asada ($4) and the El Jefe tacos ($6) for dinner. The Carne Asada came out on a fresh-made tortilla with thick slices of grilled sirloin, onion, queso cotija and salsa verde. It was a perfect flavor storm. Sweet, salty and spicy. What came next was very unexpected.
If we could write a song about a taco we would croon about the El Jefe – rich in flavor and texture. This taco consisted of grilled chorizo, crispy potatoes, salsa verde, guacamole, sour cream and cilantro. The crispy potatoes were shaped like mini waffle fries. Between the crunchiness of the potatoes, fresh guac and salsa, and a heaping mound of chorizo, this taco was the best ending to our taqueria crusade.
We really enjoyed sampling the tacos from the Two River area and expanding our knowledge on this popular and traditional dish. If there’s a place we missed, please let us know at Tastes@tworivertimes.com.
Happy Eating Always,
- INTERNATIONAL MEXICAN FOOD, 92 Shrewsbury Ave. Red Bank 732-383-5416
- MOGO KOREAN FUSION TACOS, 632 Cookman Ave. Asbury Park 732-361-3684
LOTERÍA AT THE COMPLEX AP, 632 Mattison Ave. Asbury Park
Tori and Sasha Sickles, members of the Sickles Market family, write about food, culinary trends and casual eateries in their monthly column “Two River Tastes.” You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow their food journeys on Instagram @torikaylan and @sasha_ad.
This article was first published in the April 27-May 4, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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