words by Holly Brown, photos by Lia Pietrolungo
There are two things I know to be true: Tuesdays are for tacos, and nothing warms you up in the transition to winter quite like authentic Mexican food. For that reason, on perhaps the first of many frigid Tuesdays to come, my anticipation for Taqueria Tres Amigos had doubled.
Bundled up, I pulled my little car into a small parking lot off of Copley Rd. I looked around, surveying the Mexican grocery in front of me, the building which I believed to be the home of tacos next door. I braced the cold, removed myself from the car and began to walk toward the taqueria.
I peeked in the window and was greeted by chartreuse walls. These walls had struck me during my casual google searches of the establishment. There was no way I was in the wrong place. I threw open the door.
There are simple tables spread out around the room, a TV quietly broadcasting a soap opera in Spanish. Los Tres Amigos has windows that look out onto Copley, though the view of the street is partly obscured by some sheer curtains which allow daylight to stream in. When the sun hits those walls it feels like you are literally inside of a key lime. At the back of the dining room is the kitchen with a window open to the restaurant, and a counter where you order your food.
The interior is simultaneously modest and striking. It feels more like a Mexican taqueria than anywhere I’ve been on both the east coast and the Midwest.
The menu is plastered to the upper right of the counter and it is riddled with Mexican staples: tacos, burritos, tostadas, as well as some unfamiliar items (at least to me). I’ve got my eye on something called the Cubana next time I visit, but it was Tuesday and tacos were happening.
I had spotted our fearless food editor, Lia, through the window (another indication that I had arrived at the right location) and joined her at a sunny table in the back. While I quickly read through the menu on the wall, trying desperately to nail down meat selection, the extremely nice and accommodating woman behind the counter came over to our table to take my order.
I scrambled a little, knowing I wanted tacos, unsure of which tacos exactly, but intrigued by each and every offer. I blurted out al pastor, because that is my absolute favorite kind of taco and I wasn’t going without it. Quickly, I settled on carnitas and chorizo. My mouth was watering reading this menu, I was getting my order in ASAP.
It didn’t take long for the tacos to arrive. As Lia and I caught up with one another, I watched plates of steaming food come out of the kitchen and my stomach rumbled. I couldn’t wait to be fed.
The tacos were so aesthetically pleasing. Each pile of meat rested on two corn tortillas and was sprinkled with small bits of onion and cilantro. These tacos have no frills and trust me, they don’t need them.
The al pastor was everything I imagined. The pork was tender and savory but the accompanying pineapple cut it all with sweetness. The bite of the red onions with the sweetness of the fruit created variety with every bite, the kind of genius flavor tension that comes with pineapple salsa, at once cutting and forgiving.
The pork of the carnitas was thicker than that of the al pastor, but no less tender. The chunks of pork were thin and chewy as pork should be, though it was not so hard to break apart as to try for a small bite and come away with a whole piece. These were certainly more savory, a little juicy, a lot delicious.
Now perhaps because I wasn’t expecting it, perhaps because it was a last minute game time decision, or perhaps because it is just so damn good, the chorizo tacos were my favorite of the bunch. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chorizo dish, however my problem with chorizo is that it is so greasy that it often overpowers other flavors. This was not the case on this taco Tuesday. This chorizo taco was absolutely outstanding. It was just smoky and spicy enough to give a kick without hiding the taste of sausage. Though, as with any chorizo, you get some of that run off, there was by no means too much. My taco didn’t leak, didn’t feel weighed down with the liquid. Rather, the chorizo runoff served as an au jus which, when coupled with cilantro, made this so flavorful that I’m not sure I will be able to return to Taqueria Los Tres Amigos without getting it again.
Taco Bajaa Fresh (now) Taqueria Tres Amigos, 1444 Copley Rd, Akron. Hours: Sunday 8 am – 5 pm, Mon – Sat 8 am – 8 pm.