Apple's ubiquitous iPhone ads would have you believe there's a portable application for every possible problem. How about this one: finding good, inexpensive chow in culinary dead zones at odd hours of the day? (And no, that Yelp app doesn't do it, either.) One such difficult neighborhood is the Theatre District late at night, which on weekends attracts throngs of young habitués of its cluster of nightclubs. The options for a quick late-night bite are pretty grim, but got better not too long ago with the addition of Maria's Taqueria, a 16-seat storefront that slings Mexican food, mostly tacos and burritos, until 1 am.
|Maria's Taqueria | 226 Tremont Street, Boston | Open seven days a week | 10–1 am | 617.357.7399.|
The true test of any taqueria is its protein fillings: here, the options are shrimp, carnitas, chicken, steak, and beans/rice. Portions are very good: each shrimp taco ($2.75/one; $7/three) features four medium-size shrimp, enough for some in each bite, properly built on two soft-corn tortillas. The other taco fillings are similarly strong (and all priced at $2.25 and $6.25). Carnitas is the standout: deeply flavored, long-braised pork shoulder falling to tender shreds. Steak is chewy and salty, very nice. Chunks of chicken breast are the most generously laid-on, and boast the strongest admixture of herbs, mostly oregano. The toppings of pico de gallo, mild jack cheese, sour cream, and a jolt of green-chili hot sauce strike me as perfectly balanced, not too messy, making the optional add-on of passable guacamole (75 cents) superfluous.
These same fillings can be padded out in a burrito with rice and black beans in a flour tortilla in two sizes: grande ($5.50–$7/12 inch) or tradicional ($4–$5.50/10 inch). Quesadillas ($4.50–$6.75) press them flat in a flour tortilla with a lot of cheese, grilled to a gooey melt. Salads ($5–$6.75) underpin them with iceberg lettuce, avocado, black beans, and pico de gallo. Dinner plates ($5.50–$6.50) are the naked option: filling, rice, beans, pico. After the tacos, I think the best platform is the torta (chicken, steak, or carnitas, $6.25): a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole, built on a good house-baked roll shaped like an oversize burger bun. Drink options include American and Mexican sodas ($1.50). The space is clean and brightly lit, the service quick, the frills minimal. Never mind the hormonally charged, euphoric club kids who pack the place late on weekend nights; for the Emerson students and nearby workers who provide its lunch and dinner trade, Maria's offers fresh, reasonably priced Mexican fast food that stands up to the light of day.