The Greater Boston area has a number of authentic Mexican restaurants featuring foods from all parts of that country, including such places as Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham, Cielo in Braintree, La Victoria Taqueriain Arlington and Beverly, Angela's Cafe in East Boston, Villa Mexico in downtown Boston, and Tu Y Yo in Somerville. And while these spots tend to be run by people with roots in Mexico, one Mexican eatery (well, two, actually) called Lone Star Taco Bar is owned by folks with roots in this country, albeit Texas and Southern California where so many restaurants have Mexican influences. And how does it compare to some of the Mexican-owned eateries in and around Boston? Well, even though it is just a bit more hip and trendy than the places mentioned above, Lone Star's traditional (and traditional with a twist) Mexican dishes really are tough to beat.
Lone Star Taco bar's original location is in Allston--and next to the beer bar Deep Ellum, which is under the same ownership--while the second location is in Cambridge and is the focus of this review. While the Allston shop is in a bustling area and is very popular with college students who hang out in that part of Boston, the Cambridge outlet is between Inman Square and Lechmere in an area that doesn't get a ton of foot traffic and is pretty far away from any subway stops, so it has more of a feel of being a local hangout (though college students and workers from nearby offices can certainly be found here as well). The Cambridge location of Lone Star is just a bit bigger than that of the Allston shop, with an L-shaped bar taking up most of the space and a variety of seating surrounding it along the front windows and the side wall, including booths, tables with chairs, and bench seats. A tin ceiling, exposed brick walls, and attractive hanging lights help boost the atmosphere of the space, while folks who like al fresco dining can hit the little outdoor patio along the sidewalk out front during the warmer months.
The name "Lone Star Taco Bar" might indicate that there is some Tex-Mex influence going on here, and the fact that one of the owners lived in Southern California might also hint that there are some Cal-Mex influences at play here as well, and in some ways, both of these would be accurate. The focus does seem to be a bit more on street foods found in both Mexico and Texas, however, with tacos pretty much being front and center. One of the highlights among the taco choices is the Dallas spicy beef taco, an outstandingly rich mix of seasoned ground beef, mushrooms, chiles, and longhorn cheese on a fried tortilla. Another top option is the wonderful beef barbacoa, which features tender smoked brisket, pickled red onion, avocado crema, and cotija cheese. For seafood lovers, the Baja fish taco is a must, with beer-battered whitefish and pickled red cabbage getting a little added sweetness and heat from a mango-habanero aioli. As good as the tacos are here, there are some other can't-miss items on the menu as well, with the Sonoran dog perhaps leading the way; this bacon-wrapped hot dog is a mind-blower, with a variety of flavors coming from the addition of longhorn cheese, refried beans, roasted salsa, a smoky mustard, and crema. The freshly-made (and very creamy) guacamole with fresh-fried tortilla chips is another must, as is the Victory Club nachos plate, with their take on this classic dish including tortilla chips, cotija cheese, cabbage, guacamole, pickled jalapenos, and crema. Lone Star's refried bean tostada is almost like a more portable version of the nachos plate, with beans, cabbage, crema, and ranchero sauce all placed on a crispy tortilla. For those who like breakfast all day, their version of huevos rancheros is marvelous, with fried eggs, refried beans, avocado, queso fresco, and ranchero sauce put on top of a couple of tortillas. Lone Star has plenty of drink options, including some terrific beers and wines (you might see options from Crooked Stave, Lawson's, Lost Nation, and Ayinger among the former, depending on the season), a very refreshing Sangria, equally refreshing margaritas, and an impressive list of mezcals and tequilas, with the former including meat-infused options for those who might feel a bit daring.
Lone Star Taco Bar is by no means a no-frills Mexican street food spot on the scale of Taqueria El Amigo or La Victoria Taqueria because of its slightly chic vibe, but the prices are cheap, the service is friendly, the food is wonderful, and the atmosphere is really quite nice. If you find yourself on that long stretch of Cambridge Street that cuts through what some call "Area 1" and Area 3," there are plenty of excellent neighborhood restaurants from which to choose--but it would be really tough to say no to Lone Star.
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