Rosticeria Cancun Dos

Two’s a charm
By KENJI ALT  |  August 6, 2008

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For years, Rosticeria Cancun, chef-owner Lionel Betancol’s Maverick Square hole-in-the-wall, has been the spot for my monthly taco fix. But on my most recent visit, I noticed their menu now lists a Meridian Street location. Were my eyes deceiving me, or could I now find taco heaven twice? A quick confirmation from the cook, and I was out the door, headed to Rosticeria Cancun Dos.

The first and most striking difference is that Cancun Dos has tables and a kitchen (at Cancun Uno, you had to settle for a counter and a stove). Even more important, it has a menu, which I probed by ordering a single Taco con Lengua ($1.75). Heaven. If you claim that you don’t like beef tongue, you’re wrong, and Señor Betancol can prove it to you. He braises the flavorful muscle in a tomato and onion-based sauce for several hours until it’s meltingly tender, then heaps it into a double layer of soft, warm, handmade corn tortillas, topped with onions, cilantro, and an unobtrusive fresh red sauce. It’s all served with the traditional lime wedges and radish. Now that I had gotten my taco fix, it was time to see what the Cancun cooks could do with a full kitchen at their command.

Given the area’s demographics, Cancun Dos wisely offers a variety of well-executed Salvadoran and Ecuadorian classics, like bean and pork-rind stuffed pupusas ($1.75) and sweet, creamy maduros fritos (fried ripe plantains, $3), served with real crema agria, not the thinned-out sour cream you find in most places. Chilaquiles Rancheros ($9) are a whole plateful of sauce-soaked fried tortillas served with beefy pounded skirt steak, a glass bowl of porky refried beans, and two fried eggs cooked to order (you want runny). The best part: bona fide queso blanco, with the slight sour-milk tang I’d gotten used to eating in South America and Mexico, but have never experienced at a restaurant around here.

I’m feeling pretty stuffed at this point, but figure that I can stomach one more appetizer for the sake of research. At $2, the Sopes-Gorditas couldn’t possibly be too big, right? What comes out of the kitchen is a mountain of everything you could possibly fit on one crisp sope shell. The base is filled with a guisado of potato and crumbly chorizo flavored with warm spices, a spoonful of fresh pico de gallo, a refreshing red salsa, an entire half of an avocado, and a one-two punch of crema agria and more queso blanco. I may have just found a new addiction.

Rosticeria Cancun, located at 145 Meridian Street, in East Boston, is open seven days a week, from 8 am to 10 pm. Call 617.567.5808

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