Chef Tony Delicias – Not Bad Tacos

bl1Located on Riverside Avenue in Norwalk just south of the Wendy’s on Route 123 and across from the cemetery (I kid you not), Chef Tony Delicias is a colorful truck offering tacos, burritos and other Mexican fare. When I approached the window on my first visit there were several people already enjoying their lunches and each assured me that the food at Chef Tony’s was delicious. I ordered three tacos, the steak, chicken and chorizo. Each included a double tortilla topped with grilled meat, onion, cilantro and the diner chooses from a few sauces on the counter. A few wedges of lime plus slices of radishes joined the tacos on the plate

rsz_dsc_0172I placed a small amount of the green sauce on each and returned to my car. The steak was my first choice and I was disappointed after the first bite. It was very bland, just small chunks of beef, griddled and placed on the tortillas. I did not taste any seasoning. The cilantro was mild and the green sauce added a good level of spiciness. The next taco I tried was the chicken and it was a twin to the beef, very bland. The last taco was the chorizo; fortunately this was different with a good level of spiciness from the chorizo

bl4Something did not feel right. Tony was fastidious in the prep, after handling money he washed his hands, he used new gloves with each order, I just could not believe what I ate was indicative of the food, so I returned for a second visit. On visit number 2 I again ordered three tacos, a steak, a carnitas and chicken. It was a different experience

bl3The tacos on the second visit were served nestled in a Styrofoam container with three lime wedges and a small side container of green sauce. The tacos contained the meat plus a small handful of onions and a fair amount of cilantro. There were no sauces on the counter and Tony included a small container of salsa verde with the order. After returning to the car I added a good squirt of lime and drizzled the salsa on each. The chicken was much better with a touch of seasoning and the lime, onion and salsa worked very well together, but the cilantro was somewhat bland. The next taco I sampled was the beef, which was also lightly seasoned and very good. The carnitas was the last I tried and was the best of the six tacos I tasted over the two visits. The pork was seasoned properly, grilled nicely and the meat maintained a good level of juiciness. Like the other two tacos, the balance of the onions, salsa and tortillas was very good.

Although somewhat inconsistent, the second visit to Chef Tony’s feels more indicative of the food and presents another choice for good tacos, albeit in a somewhat out-of-the-way location.

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Rincon (Norwalk) – Visit #2 Also Outstanding

A little over a year ago I visited Rincon and enjoyed a trio of tacos that opened my eyes to a new level of Mexican street food. Over the last fourteen months I have told numerous people about Rincon…they serve the best tacos in the area. Last week another blogger suggested we meet for a few tacos and I jumped at the opportunity.

Located on Route 1 (heading east/north) in Norwalk in the same building as a catering hall, across from Kohl’s, there is plenty of parking in a lot just beyond the building. When I entered Rincon slightly before noon they were busy filling to-go orders…trays and tray of tacos were being prepared and the mega-burritos were in process, others were about to enjoy these culinary treats.

I ordered two tacos and two empanadas.

I started with the fish taco. After adding a squirt from the slice of lime I carefully rolled the double-tortilla in hopes of keeping the heaping portion contained within. The fish was perfectly fried, just a light coating and was joined in the tortilla with red onion and cilantro that delivered citrusy back-notes. It was bright, sweet and vibrant. The fish taco was fantastic. The pork taco was a totally different profile. After the brightness of the fish taco I was bolted back to the more traditional taco with spiciness and cilantro. The large serving of pulled pork was incredibly moist and flavorful and then the toppings added a great kick to the pork. There was a sprinkling of cheese on top that added a little saltiness and softened the spice. While totally different, both were as great as I remembered.

I next moved to the empanadas. Two large empanadas filled the plate, these were not two-bites and you are finished; like the other items on the menu, Rincon serves a real serving. I started with the beef. The crust was flaky, buttery and perfectly prepared. And the filling was incredible. The meat was moist with great flavors and a hint of spiciness. Then I moved onto the chicken and, like the beef, delivered incredible flavors and textures. I stated on numerous occasions that the tacos were the best I ever tasted…the empanadas might be better.

I learned a lesson today. When you find a go-to restaurant, go to it. If they make one dish incredibly well, there is a strong possibility the rest of the menu might also be outstanding. In the case of Rincon, the tacos are fantastic and the empanadas set a new standard and are definitely worth a trip.

Senor Salsa (Fairfield) Delivers Mexican-Inspired Flair

The taco craze is alive and well in Fairfield County and if you are looking for a large variety of tacos, and other Mexican inspired cuisine, head to Senor Salsa in Fairfield.

The menu begins with their Senor Salads where Romaine lettuce is combined with Cotija cheese, tomatoes and avocado and top with steak, shrimp or fish.  Then move to one of four quesadillas ranging from a classic steak or carnita, or choose a vegetarian variety filled with a mixture of wild mushrooms, served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa. The taco choices focus on the sea, with mahi mahi or shrimp, or look to the land by adding chicken or a vegetarian taco filled with grilled red and green peppers, caramelized onions, black beans, and salsa.

It is the Senor Burrito options that will grab your attention with ten different combinations. For the early risers, the breakfast burrito starts the day with eggs, chorizo, jack and cheddar cheese, avocado and salsa, or for the incredibly hungry diner, the overstuffed grilled burrito with a double portion of chicken, habanero jack cheese, salsa & guacamole, all wrapped in a tortilla and grilled (steak or carnita can be substituted for the chicken). And for those who cannot decide, order a combination platter and add a few chili rellenos to share.

Senor Salsa offers a wide variety of choices, from a breakfast burrito at the beginning of the day to combination platters to share with friends as the sun expires.

Senor Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

World Street Kitchen (MSP) – Street Food From Asia

bl_1I wasn’t sure what to expect after my memorable visits to Saffron (one of my favorites) and seeing the photos on-line for WSK. Was this restaurant the polar opposite of the demure setting downtown? Was this really the creation of Sameh Wadi, one of the best chefs in the US and his brother Saed? But then I read the philosophy of WSK…bringing global street foods to the palates of MSP, and I decided to see what this hot-place would offer.

The exterior is best described as basic, lots of windows, not much signage with two doors…enter the door at the right half of the building, not the one with the sign that states “Exit →.” The “foyer” includes a combination cash register / ordering station and above this combo-station is the wall mounted menu, fully emblazoned with sections, and choices within each section.

bl_2I ordered three items, the “Kingston 12,” Jerk Beef, slow-cooked beef brisket with mint chimichurri and queso fresco; the “La Panza,” Caramelized Lamb Belly with pickled cucumbers, sesame seeds, basil and secret sauce; and the Korean “BBQ” Beef Short Ribs Lettuce Wrap with house-made kimchi. You pay and receive a number stand which you place on the table and a runner brings the food to your table. With no utensils or napkins on the table, make sure you make a stop at the self-serve area for forks, spoons, chop sticks and napkins. You can also grab a bottle of Sriracha sauce, and if you do not want a bottled beverage, there is a water canteen with carafes and glasses.

Each taco order includes two medium sized tortillas and the Lettuce Wrap is a DIY event.

bl3I started with the short beef brisket tacos and these were delicious. The meat was tender, flavorful with a moderate level of spice. Then the kitchen kicked up the spice level with the pureed mint chimichurri, and mellowed the palate with the crumbled Queso cheese. The three components worked perfectly together. It was a great start to the meal.

bl4Unfortunately the lamb belly did not maintain these standards. The first duet arrived and after two bites I knew this was a non-starter. The cubed belly was vastly overcooked, borderline hard and close to inedible. The server noticed my reaction and saw me push the dish across the table. When I explained, she offered to re-fire and that was a great save. When the replacement arrived, the meat was much better prepared. The belly was accompanied by house made pickle slices and basil leaves, and topped with a sriracha thousand island dressing. The basil and pickles were completely lost under the other two spicy ingredients

The Lettuce Wrap arrived in two paper containers (like those at a hot dog stand at the ballpark), the first contained a large selection of lettuce leaves and the other included two mounds, one meat and the other kimchee. The presentation was incredibly unappetizing, but flavors were over the top fantastic. Take a lettuce leaf, add scoops of the shredded rib meat and a little kimchee, roll and eat. The combination was like none I have eaten in a while. The meat brought spiciness, the kimchee (loaded with shredded carrots) was more sour than spicy and then the sweet crunchiness of the lettuce leaves added the final component. It was delicious.

The staff was scant, the cashier and a couple of runners. Other than the cashier who noticed my “food push” they basically stay to themselves, with zero interaction with the guests. Overall WSK was an interesting adventure. If I were in my 20’s, out with friends I would probably think it was a great inexpensive dinner. Other than the food, the ambiance was lacking, the service was non-existent and it was a get ‘em in, get ‘em out eatery. It has its place as a great quick meal, with great food but you need to know that it is totally different from Saffron.

World Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Los Poblanos (Norwalk) – A Little Gem with Excellent Food

bl1Locating this little gem is a little difficult. If you are heading towards Westport on Route 1, make a right at the light where Pennzy’s Spice is located and Los Poblanos is one of the five storefronts immediately to your left. Park behind the building and enter from the rear. There are three four-person booths and a couple of tables. The walls are brightly painted adorned with regional posters and a Spanish language TV offers a little entertainment.

bl2The menu is brightly colored with various Mexican offering. I wanted to sample Los Tacos and ordered four of them. Once delivered the first item I noticed was the amount of filling, Los Poblanos significantly fills the soft tacos. Green (cilantro) and orange (I would guess habanero) sauce accompany the tacos. The cilantro sauce was great and complemented the flavors and the orange was a little too spicy for my palate but had great flavor.

DSC_1906I decided to work my way from least to most spicy and started with The Carnitas (pork) taco. The cubed pork was simply sautéed and topped with diced raw onion and cilantro. The flavors were mild, and mine included a few cubes of pork fat. The addition of some on the green cilantro sauce created a great balance of flavor and very mild in heat.

The Pollo tonga (shredded chicken) taco was smothered in a red sauce that upon first bite I thought was too mild as well. But the heat of the pepper slowly arrived about 30 seconds later, no a burn, but a mild reminder that this was Latin food. The addition of cilantro again balanced the flavors.

bl3Looking to increase the heat level I moved to the Chorizo (Mexican sausage) taco. I was a little surprised about two items, the presentation and the heat level. Normally chorizo is sliced to create circles, but Los Poblanos served their sliced in a julienne. Likewise the heat level was much less than expected, I would characterize these as a very mild chorizo but the flavor was outstanding. The taco was topped with sliced and diced onion

The last taco was the Al pastor (spicy pork). At last I found some spiciness. The same pork that I enjoyed in the Carnita was sautéed and then tossed with a spicy red sauce. This created a great depth of flavors with a good level of spiciness. This was my favorite taco of the four.

Overall I was impressed with Los Poblanos and look forward to returning and enjoy additional options.

Restaurante Los Poblanos on Urbanspoon