or Just as Good
Ontario St., Albany, 935-1096. Serving 11-11 Tue-Sat, 1-8
Sun. AE, D, MC, V.
tacos and burritos
price range: $2.50 (single taco) to $7.75 (specialty
grew up in Albany,” explains Adam Daniels, who goes on to
describe the wide-ranging travels he and his brother, Josh,
enjoyed—travels that took them as far afield as Central America
and convinced them that their native city needed a taco joint.
“We weren’t trying for anything really authentic,” he goes
on. “Just a place with good food. The kind of place where
we’d want to eat.”
I’m wondering how he defines “authentic.” He’s making his
own tortillas, which isn’t easy and certainly doesn’t seem
to be required by places that present themselves as faithful
to some ideal. He’s even making his own chorizo now,
which is a burrito’s soulmate. And all of this is going on
at the scrappy little storefront known as Bros Tacos, at the
corner of Ontario and Morris streets, which looks about as
authentic as you’d expect such a place to look.
There’s a table. There’s space at a counter. There’s a TV
blaring its nonsense, aimed at the service counter. You’ll
glance at it while awaiting your takeout order. There’s a
cheerful, colorful, catch-as-catch-can decor. It’s the kind
of place I wish I lived near, because I know I’d see my neighbors
in there regularly.
The menu stays on the side of simple. Nachos ($6.75) are dressed
with melted cheese, but it’s chipotle sour cream alongside
the pico de gallo and guacamole. Add $1.75 for chicken, ground
beef or beans. There’s a four-buck burger; add a dollar for
the vegetarian version. The salads list sports a taco salad
($7.75) with a mix of greens and guacamole, chips and pico
de gallo with your choice of meat or beans. A pair of tostadas
runs $7; tamales are $3.50 apiece. A quesadilla, built on
a flour tortilla, runs $6 and an extra $1.75 with meat or
Which brings us to the heart of the menu. The tacos are created
with soft corn tortillas, two tortillas apiece, garnished
with onions and cilantro, served with your choice of red or
green salsa. For $2.50 apiece, choose chicken (BBQ chicken
an option), pork, beef or veggies. Bump it up a quarter and
you can get grilled marinated steak chunks, fried or grilled
fish, or shrimp as the main ingredient. Speaking of which,
a shrimp tostada is in the works, and look for fried shrimp
as a taco filling soon.
Specialty tacos ($3 apiece) add extras like cotija cheese
and a custom-paired salsa. The $7.75 taco plate special gives
you two tacos and sides of rice and black beans. We sampled
a plate with a pork taco, pineapple salsa and crumbly cotija
as complements, and a black bean-and-avocado veggie taco,
again with cotija and a dollop of sour cream. A nice
thing about soft tacos is that they survive the reheating
process—we got our order to go and consumed it at home.
The burrito was created nearly a century ago, according to
some good guesses, when a roadside food vendor came up with
the novel idea of wrapping his wares in a warm flour tortilla.
Not surprisingly, American eaters have taken a small, simple
treat and swollen it into the formidable serving now expected,
but you do end up with a complete meal and a nice array of
flavors. Along with something to drip onto my shirt, without
which a fast-food meal doesn’t seem correct.
Bros’ burritos are generously filled with your choice of meat—carne
asada, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp among them—or vegetables,
with cheese, beans and rice added inside. We checked out the
chicken ($7) and the carne asada ($7.25), my preference
tilting toward the latter marinated-beef filling, especially
after I dosed it with the impressively spicy habanero papaya
If you’d like to steer your burrito in a different direction
still, substitute scrambled eggs and cheese for the rice and
beans and enjoy a breakfast-style sandwich.
Adam previously worked in fine- dining Albany-area restaurants
(Pearl, Lulu) and kitchens in Manhattan (Le Poeme, e.g.),
but he enjoys the different approach that his more casual
taco joint invites. Still, there’s an unexpectedly refined
approach. “We make everything from scratch,” he says, including
the aforementioned tortillas, a variety of salsas, and all
the prep that goes into the fillings, such as the chili-citrus
marinated pork and the grilled pineapple shrimp.
we do some things a little differently,” he says, “like the
fish tacos, which are served in our own cream sauce.”
I have yet to sample the dessert monkey rolls ($4.75), which
are a pair of deep-fried bananas with coconut and chocolate;
I suspect I’ll head for the flan first ($2.50). But that’ll
be the stuff of a future visit, as I make my way through more
of Bros Tacos’ excellent items.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
the Toast of Christmas Past. New World Home
Cooking (1411 Route 212, Saugerties) holds
its 13th New World Champagne Dinner on Friday
(Dec. 18) with favorite selections from the 12
past celebrations. Chef Ric Orlando and CIA wine
professor Michael Weiss have chosen such items
as a blue corn-lobster tamale with huitlacoche-poblano
crema, paired with an Iron Horse Russian Cuvee;
wild mushroom pierogis with white woodears and
lemon-chive butter with a Pol Roget Brut; and
Creole-style pan-roasted quail with dirty rice,
red beans and sauce picante alongside an Australian
Shingleback Black Bubbles. Dinner is at 7 PM and
priced at $75 per person ($50 without wine). Reservations
are required. Call (845) 246-0900. . . . Remember
to pass your scraps to Metroland.