One of the few bright spots of having a lot of travel to/from Massachusetts these days is that I’ve gotten to knock a few places off of my hit list in Southern NH and Northern MA. One particular group of restaurants that I’ve been trying to visit has been the several taquerias that have cropped up around Manchester, NH.
First of all, Manchester isn’t particularly known as a Mexican area; it has a decent Latino population, but when we moved to NH, the primary options for Mexican food consisted of La Carreta (which is rather anglicized for my tastes which have been primarily calibrated by my Arizona upbringing and travels) and a small place on the east side (now El Mexicano, under different owners, I believe) which was in a slightly sketchy neighborhood, but made decent authentic tacos. But that was basically it.
But 11 years later, the situation is looking a lot better. Several years ago (2005, I think) Consuelo’s Taqueria opened downtown. About two years ago Nayarit showed up (an actual taco truck!). And several other places have crept in through town, including El Rincon Zacatecano Taqueria (across from the Verizon Center in the old Dave’s Cosmic Subs place) and Taqueria Guadalupana (Valley Street).
So on one of my trips back from Waltham, I decided to check out the last of these, Taqueria Guadalupana. First of all, it’s not easy to find, especially at night. Instead of having it’s own location, Guadalupana used to share space with a small convenience store and a halal butcher in a little run-down building on Valley Street… and then both those businesses closed, and the little signage that’s actually dedicated to Guadalupana isn’t well lit (it’s easier to spot the sign from the former Halal butcher). So Taqueria Guadalupana inhabits a mostly-empty space in a run-down building with plastic furniture, a bunch of empty cooler cases (well, one still is running and loaded up with Mexican Coke and Jarritos), and some empty shelving… and a nice older lady in the back selling fresh made tacos and other Mexican food from her kitchen.
But she’s making some good food. Wandering in, I grabbed a spot at an empty table, and the woman promptly walked over and asked me what I wanted for dinner. Over a conversation that was someone stilted due to her general lack of English, and my own general lack of Spanish (a shame I still can’t speak Spanish worth a damn with an Arizona upbringing…), I eventually settled on a plate of asada tacos, since she assured me that, at least on that night, the asada was better than the pastor or the pollo.
Well, I’ll tell you this, she wasn’t wrong about the asada, since these were three seriously good tacos: the meat was perfectly seasoned, cooked perfectly with just the right amount of smokiness and sear, and served up on some freshly grilled corn tortillas with some fresh onion, cilantro, and some most excellent home-made salsa. The result was a trio of tacos that were perfectly done, and at $1.50 each, nicely priced.
Sure, it’s run down, and a little weird to be eating on a wobbly plastic table in an abandoned convenience store (although compared to some of the Yuma taco carts, the environs are still rather cushy). But considering my three tacos and a mandarin Jarritos set me back only $6, and were some of the best tacos I’ve had in NH, I’ll certainly consider coming back.