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Barrio bonanza 

Fresh, authentic finds at Nayarit taqueria

Dark forces have been hiding something from me for way too long. At least that's how I felt when I finally found out about Nayarit. I mean, here was a great taqueria close by, no need to drive all the way up to Buford Highway.
The small storefront operation in Grant Park is a neighborhood destination. Located alongside a dilapidated laundry and a grocery with the same name, it can be easily overlooked while motoring down Boulevard. The dining area is populated with clean, plastic patio furniture that provide enough dining space, if not a particularly cozy ambiance.

Three T's: Tacos: The mix of quick-and-easy finger foods make this a true taqueria that doesn't shy away from authentic choices outside the Tex-Mex standards. Taco options ($1.50 each) include grilled steak, barbecue, beef tongue, adobada or chicken, and are stuffed with mucho meat and toppings of onion, cilantro and picante sauce.

Tortas: The tortas, or sandwiches, ($3.99) were another great find. The barbacoa is a barbecue-marinated beef on Cuban bread with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, mayonnaise and jalapenos. There is also a Cuban sandwich that ain't too bad.

Tamales: Excellent red and green tamales (four for $5) with soft, cornmeal wrappings and tender pork stuffing are on the menu, but you're stuck with what's available. Only once have both green and red been available. Rounding out the menu are gorditas ($1.99), burritos ($2.50) and quesadillas ($2.50-$2.75).
Swift and shy: The menu is bilingual as is the server who is usually present. She is gracious and quick to bring chips and salsa and answer questions in her quiet manner. If you care to try out your Spanish, she perks up a lot more. But still no answer on the strange menu cover that displays a Chinese restaurant's interior with chopsticks and tea service.
Sabados y Domingos: On the weekend, hearty bowls of menudo and pozole are available. The pozole ($7.50/$6.50) is a red, fiery concoction that glistens with fat and is heaped with strips of beef and unusually large hunks of corn. I ordered the small (chico) bowl and was surprised at the size of the serving. There is not much need for the grande unless you have sniffles you're trying to kick and want to really feed that cold. Menudo is another aromatic soup made of tripe, hominy and chili, and is stewed for hours with garlic and other spices.
Stop the madness!: Make sure you don't pick the table closest to the jukebox. You'll be happy as long as it doesn't start blaring its obnoxious tunes. But when regulars come in and feed it quarters, watch out!

jerry.portwood@creativeloafing.com

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