Arts restaurant review

Don’t judge a taco by its tortilla

Yeah, I’m not really sure what’s going on either

7520 nacotaco
The exterior of Naco Taco, a newly opened restaurant in Cambridge.
Vivian hu — the tech


Naco Taco

Address: 297 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139

Kitchen Hours: Sun-Wed 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Thurs-Sat 11 a.m. - Midnight

Bar Hours: Sun-Wed 11 a.m. - Midnight, Thurs-Sat 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.

I’ve been walking past Naco Taco every day since it opened this past spring near Central Square. Its constantly-populated patio and brightly-colored-taco-truck exterior always caught my attention, and last week I decided I needed to give the joint a try.

It was a hot day, so I requested a table inside, though the patio looked as lively as usual. The first thing that struck me was that the indoor part of the restaurant contrasted with the outside. Outside, there is a food truck attached to the building (from what I could tell, it was an extension of the indoor kitchen), and everything is painted bright blue and orange. The interior was darker and more sleek and modern, and much more spacious than it looked from outside.

I was immediately intimidated by the menu which was much more sophisticated than I had expected. I wasn’t 100 percent sure what everything was, and as someone who doesn’t eat pork, I found it a bit difficult to decide what to order. If you are the adventurous type of person who will order anything at least once at a place like Clover, you’ll probably have a fun time ordering at Naco Taco. I was simultaneously impressed and disappointed that the menu lacked average tex-mex options.

Instead, the menu included things like crispy pigs’ ear chilaquiles, cordero (which is a dish made with lamb belly and fermented kale), and cabeza ahogada (pig’s head with bacon). I settled on a carne asada taco and a torched-avocado taco ($4 per taco) with a side of chips and guacamole ($8). I liked the grilled avocados in the torched-avocado taco, but I thought that the crunchiness of the almond salsa added a strange texture and it sort of ruined the taco for me. There was nothing to really complain about with the carne asada tacos, but also nothing special (this was probably the high point of the meal since I didn’t find any part of the dish unappealing). The portions were pretty small compared to what you’d get for around the same price at other tex-mex places nearby. I liked their house-made corn tortillas, but my boyfriend thought they were undercooked (which is a valid description, but I guess I liked that). The chips and guac were a little disappointing since the chips were pretty stale (and I suspect store-bought) and the guacamole had a little too much of something (I couldn’t quite place what that might have been, though). Everything seemed to look better than it tasted — definitely the kind of food you’d take pictures of to post on Instagram (if that’s your thing).

Their drink menu was more appealing to me than their food menu (though I didn’t order anything) — the sangria options looked delicious, the prices were low, and the micheladas (beer cocktails) other patrons ordered were visually appealing and likely worth a shot. I’d probably be down to venture back to Naco Taco for drinks with friends.

Overall, the food certainly didn’t live up to my expectations – I felt really jerked around, first looking forward to cheap food truck fare and later, after ordering, expecting a more refined (and creative) take on the cuisine only to find the food lackluster and bizarre. I imagine this is the type of restaurant you will either really enjoy or find really gross.

Personally, I won’t be going back to Naco Taco for dinner anytime soon. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that, after we paid the check, my boyfriend decided we needed to go to 7-11 so he could buy a proper dinner — a microwaved breakfast sandwich — which cost $3 and made him much happier than the tacos he had ordered.