My husband and I met in South Texas, got married in Guatemala, and were foreign correspondents in Latin America for more than five years. So there's no doubt we love our Mexican food.
When we moved to Montclair in the summer of 2009, we immediately checked out places like on Bellevue Avenue. Don't get me wrong. We like Tinga—especially their 12-inch burritos—but it simply didn't scream "authentic."
In general—and I'm not singling out Tinga—places that over use heavy cheeses or don walls with pictures of cacti are not authentic.
Real Mexican is nothing fancy and often includes the use of lime, cumin, cilantro, Mexican oregano, and fresh tomatoes.
And that's exactly what's on tap at the 27-seat Taqueria Autentica at 1035 Broad Street in Bloomfield.
The former food truck and regular presence at the Montclair Farmer's Market—and around Newark—has enjoyed a permanent home near the intersection with Watchung Avenue since last September.
It even garnered a nice review in The New York Times last month.
But this Montclair Patch editor hadn't visited the eatery until this weekend. And she's so glad she popped in.
Taqueria Autentica buys its corn tortillas from Tortilleria Nixtamal in New York City, which are made from fresh masa and include no preservatives. They use locally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken from Goffle Road Farms in Wyckoff. If that's not enough to send you beelining for Bloomfield, there's also the taqueria's house-made chorizo with no preservatives or unnatural ingredients.
The restaurant’s tacos are priced at between $2.75 and $3.50, with about three needed to fill you up at dinner. I had the taco with carnitas, slow-cooked poor with carmelized orange peel and salsa verde. The filling was tasty, tender, and had a nice touch of lime.
If you don't like tacos, there's a very satisfying enchilada de pollo—corn tortillas baked with chihuahua cheese, chicken, and salsa—for $8, not to mention quesadillas for $5 and tostadas for $4.50.
There also are authentic dulces such as a pudding with intense chocolate and Mexican spices topped with roasted almond slivers—for a mere $3.
Much to my children's delight, the restaurant sells Jarritos, a popular brand of tasty Mexican soft drinks; diners may bring their own beer or wine.
Owned by Bloomfield residents Michael Natiello and Alyssa Aiello, the restaurant serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a variety of small plate specials that include such items as scallops and Mexican risotto for $7 to $9 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
All in all, Taqueria Autentica has helped make this part of Broad a go-to strip of ethnic cuisine, with STAMNA Greek Taverna just nearby and across the street.
Check it out and bring the kids (there's even an easel in the corner so that children can do some drawing). You won't be disappointed.
Taqueria Autentica, 1035 Broad St., Bloomfield, 973-320-4157. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where do you go for authentic Mexican fare? Let us know in the comments section below.