The Nazo Experience

Before leaving Providence, I felt it necessary to pay a little homage to one of the best kept secrets in the city. Earlier this week I had the chance to swing by for a bite to eat, and realized that the place really needs to be honored. Taqueria El Taconazo is probably one of the most inconspicuous, shady, and run down taco joints I've ever seen. Had it not been recommended by a trustworthy friend, I probably would have never gotten near the place, let alone eat there. Fortunately, it also contains some of the most delicious and authentic mexican food I've ever had.

The place is indisputably a shack of corrugated metal, painted like a mexican flag. The structure actually used to be a working food truck. A bit like a drive up taco stand that came to you. Now it's parked permanently in the Valley Street flea market parking lot. Conveniently located just 5 minutes from my apartment. What a wonderful coincidence.

My friend and I walked toward the shack, pulled the sliding glass door aside, and were immediately greeted with a warm blast of air from the electric heater sitting in the corner. Next came the aromas of spice, chilies, and simmering meat. Just ahead the menu was posted on the wall in large colorful flash cards, and a small window (which looks as though it was the actual truck window at one point) looks into the closet sized kitchen and the woman working in it (she's the only employee, cooking there everyday from open to close). I placed our order, doing my best to recall the long forgotten days of Spanish class. The menu is short, but straightforward. Each item is prepared by the woman to order.We picked seats next to the heater as it became obvious that all the cracks in the shack were not properly sealed. 

In the summer, the shanty is filled to capacity with working men and women, all flocking to the best taco spot in town during their lunch break. I could remember hearing the fans whirring and how the windows were thrown open warming up the composite board countertops.

The plate of food is brought out to us by the woman. She smiles knowingly (knowin' that we're gonna love every stinkin' bite!) I ordered three tacos at a whopping $1.50 a piece. They're so incredibly simple! Just a corn tortilla, braised meat, cilantro, pico de gallo, lime, and either salsa verde or rojo. A plastic bowl of pickled jalapenos rested on the table next to us if we felt like spicing it up a bit more.
I chose the lengua (beef tounge), chicharon (pork skin), and carnitas (braised pork). Other meats available are chorizo, orejas (ear), and my personal favorite pastor style (pork and pineapple). Some of the most flavorful braised meat I've ever had! This stuff packs a punch! The juices drip down the taco and onto the wax paper with every bite. The chicharon was particularly good. Imagine a fried pork rind that's slow cooked in tomato product, pork stock, and mexican spices - you can smell the toasted cumin and chiles. (I literally just drooled a little.) Holy cow - GOOD!

I finished all the tacos and was so overwhelmed by flavor that I ordered more. The pastor style tostada was calling my name. "Taaaaayyyyloooor. Taaaaayyyllllooooorrr. eat me. Eat Me. EAT ME!" And I did. And it was good.

The salty unctuous pork played beautifully with the sweet tangy pineapple. A thick schmearing of refried beans and gobs of Mecan Oaxaca cheese topped it all off. I finished it all in about 2.5 minutes.

Thanking and waving goodbye to the woman, I couldn't help but take notice at how satisfied I was. Both 
my stomach, and my need for simple delicious home cooking. It may not have been cooking from my home, but it was cooking from hers. The same basic thought ran through that food as it does all home cooking: the food was made with love. You could see it. You could hear it. Smell it. Taste it. It was all there. And jeeze it was good. 

 Had I eaten anywhere else that night, I guarantee I wouldn't have left as happy. It was a great feeling. And reason enough to squeeze in as many return trips to Taconazo as I can.


  1. I stumbled across El Taconazo just a few days ago and took a chance. SO GOOD. Thanks for this tribute to the best taco joint in Prov!



About Cooking Curiously...

This is a place for food nerds to roam free. A place for me to document my tales and experiences concerning that wonderful substance known as FOOD. I find it incredible how many forms it can take, and the impact it can have on our lives. Hopefully, I can make some of those forms tangible here. The following posts will range from travel stories to new dishes and recipes, some restaurant reviews, maybe just an interesting food thought. Regardless, this is meant to be an open forum for both myself and any followers. Feel free to post and comment. Enjoy!

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