While the food at Allston's Deep Ellum occasionally plays second fiddle to its stand-out list of libations, the plates and tequila concoctions found next door at Lone Star Taco, the latest Texan ode from Aaron Sanders and Max Toste, are perfectly in step.
First, the cocktails. Tequila, shunted into a slutty corner for too long, relegated to being served in shots and cheesy cantina margaritas, is so lovingly honored in this agave temple that it seems it may just be having its true moment.
The Agua de Tamarindo ($10) is a study in sensuality and spice, with fragrant orange and just a hint of lime playing off the Añejo tequila, while the tamarind syrup adds a layer of nectar that warms on the way down. On the other end of the spectrum, the Paloma ($10) is the clear choice for those in search of refreshment rather than complexity. The unobtrusive combination of blanco tequila, grapefruit, lime, and salt sounds like the average craft margarita, until you taste a hint of the Mexican grapefruit soda floated on top, which lifts it to the status of a clean pre-dinner aperitif.
The six varieties of tacos ($4 each) are as hard to choose between as one's own children, or so I would imagine if I actually had any. However, after a thorough tasting, the "Beef Barbacoa" emerged the clear winner. Highlighting a moist and smoky brisket with pickled red onion, avocado crema, and cotija, no one around the table could speak after taking a bite. A close runner-up was the "Baja Fish" variation, a classic battered whitefish taco rendered divine by a crunchy pickled-red-cabbage slaw and a chili-mango aioli.
And the sides! Not to start any street wars, but the grilled street corn with cotija and chili-lime aioli ($6) is a frighteningly close second to the infamous cobs at the South End's tapas darling Toro, and results in the same finger-licking groans of enjoyment at the table. The chips and guacamole ($9), normally not remarkable enough to mention at any establishment, pairs just-fried handmade tortilla chips with a made-to-order guacamole so tangy and clean, it's shocking. You might be hard-pressed to let the server take the stone bowl away, lest there be a tiny bit left.
The space is small — smaller than Deep Ellum if that's possible — but the staff and patrons are good-humored and the booths are cozy. I couldn't help feeling like I was part of something revolutionary, but then, a spectacular meal can do that, can't it?
LONE STAR TACO, located at 477 Cambridge St, Allston, is open Monday–Thursday, 11 am–1 am, and Friday–Sunday, 10 am–1 am. For more information, call 617.782.8226.