Traveling down Broadway in East Somerville, you might notice similarities in the food at Taquería Tapatío Mexican Grill at 82A and Taco Loco Mexican Grill at 44. Over sixteen years ago, Benjamin and Jessica Morales saw a need for Latino restaurants in their community and decided to begin their journey as restaurant owners.
The Morales’ take great pride in being able to offer a family-friendly space for families in Tapatío, but are clearly also keen on the needs of the local professional or passerby looking for a quick and delicious take-out option, hence Taco Loco’s take-out friendly setup and location near Sullivan Square. The duo has been working together through thick and thin, overcoming a fire in Tapatío four years ago. Another twist? Benjamin is a traveling priest, which makes it even more of a hectic balance.
Walking into Tapatilo, the pictures of food on the wall immediately draw one’s eye. Contrasted against the bright yet comforting yellow wall paint, these hanging framed photos label common types of Mexican food, allowing the consumer to get a preview of what they are about to taste. The tables on either side as one walks towards the counter to order are meant for those who would like to stay for a bit, socializing with friends or family or catching up on the latest Spanish news or show playing on the television hanging from the ceiling above one of the drink refrigerators by the cash register.
The menu is a mix of English and Spanish and the ordering process is friendly to speakers of both languages. One can see all of the food options sitting behind the glass panel, freshly made and ready to be used to create each dish on the spot. There are even treats, like ice cream, if one travels a few feet further down the deep and narrow restaurant to the dessert portion of the counter. The wait is usually not an issue, but the restaurant does tend to get crowded around the lunch time rush.
Taco Loco’s atmosphere is slightly more cosmopolitan, with counters along the sides of the restaurant for those who wish to sit while waiting for their order or grab a spot to eat quickly and then go on their way. The menu is more in English than Spanish, and one could say the same about the television playing on the left side of the establishment. It is a much smaller space, which does not prove to be an issue because of the fast service and friendly staff. Definitely a different feel, I wondered whether the same great taste would apply here. Fortunately, I was far from disappointed- the food is made with the same care and to the same high standard as it is at Tapatilo.
Don’t take my word for it though; try out one or both of the Morales’ restaurants in East Somerville next time you are around the area! You will be glad you did.