An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jun 16, 2014
08:53 AMThe Connecticut Table
Best Tacos in Connecticut: We Add Spice to CTbites' 'Ultimate Guide'
Our friends and content sharing partners at CTbites have published The Best Tacos in Connecticut: Ultimate Guide, and it’s full of good recommendations, with most of them concentrated in Fairfield County, which is CTbites’ prime turf.
The Father’s Day posting on the best crunchy Mexican and Latin bites inspired us to join the conversation with a sneak-peek nugget from our upcoming feature on gourmet food trucks across Connecticut—and a reminder about a West Hartford Mexican gem our own experts love, which we see praised on Twitter pretty much daily, and another nugget about the tacos that Food Network Magazine singled out for praise in its Cinco de Mayo feature “50 States of Tacos.”
First, our “insider’s secret” on some the best tacos to be found anywhere:
If you ever find yourself with a carload of screaming kids on the way to Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, (or on the way home afterward) be sure to pull over along Route 64 and treat yourself to a delicious taco as fortification.
Woodbury native Christopher (Haig) Leonard serves California-style tacos with fresh ingredients and an even fresher taste from his El Camión food truck. (Leonard, above, and a fish taco, below; photos by Monica Zielinski.)
For now, the menu is limited to a variety of three tacos and two quesadillas, which is a good thing in a less-is-more way.
The fish tacos are a definite must-try.
After being marinated in coconut and lime, the Swai fish is battered in cornmeal and fried until it’s “crispy, crunchy.” Then it’s served with a tangy, sweet fresh mango salsa and topped with shaved red and green cabbage and a drizzle of light vinaigrette, sour cream and a splash of lime. Leonard says the cabbage is a healthy alternative to iceberg lettuce—it has more antioxidants.
For an extra kick, he adds a bit of sriracha chili sauce, but customers are welcome to choose from a variety of sauces displayed on the truck’s window ledge for that extra spiciness—one of which is Leonard’s own chipotle sauce that’s “smoky hot.”
After working at various restaurants in Chicago and New York, Leonard decided it was time to head home and start his own business. Now in his third year of serving tacos from El Camión (Spanish for “the truck”), Leonard plans to open his own restaurant in the near future. “The truck is not going anywhere—it’s where it all started,” says Leonard.
Although most of his cooking background is based around Italian cuisine, Leonard says he was drawn to Mexican food because of its rich history and he loves working with such big, bright flavors and spices.
Naugatuck brothers Rick and Bill Edwards came by the day we visited and grabbed a taco or three after a day of fishing at nearby Lake Quassapaug.
“His tacos are much cleaner, lighter and he’s got the salsa down,” says Rick. “I hope he expands his menu. I’m addicted.” (Connecticut Magazine intern Monica Zielinski wrote the El Camion text.)
El Camión is located at 308 Sherman Hill Rd. in Woodbury; (917) 608-8484, www.el-camion.com
We named Besito the Best Mexican/Latin restaurant in our Best Restaurant’s 2013: Experts’ Picks, and we see people singing its praises pretty much daily on Twitter.
The Taquitos with soft corn tortillas and “Crispy Street Tacos” on the menu are mouth-watering.
Besito is located at 46 South Main Street in West Hartford;(860) 233-2500, www.besitomexican.com/
Agave Grill in Hartford, which describes itself as a Modern Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar, was featured in Food Network Magazine May for tacos that were praised for tasting like authentic Mexican street food.
Here's what the magazine had to say:
Spicy BBQ Pork Taco Agave Grill, Hartford
You can order these blue corn tortillas with all sorts of fillings, but barbecue pork is the most loved.
Fans say the tacos are as close to Mexican street food as you can find in Connecticut.
$11 for two; 100 Allyn St.; agavect.com
(Editor's note: The Hartford Courant reported a fire that started in the ventilation system Monday afternoon at Agave, which said it would reopen as soon as possible this week.)
Let us know about your favorite Tacos and we’ll add comments to this story. Long live the spicy crunch!Best Tacos in Connecticut: We Add Spice to CTbites' 'Ultimate Guide'