201231FRESCO

Beth Webb, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, sampled this Moroccan chicken taco during a recent visit to Taco Fresco in Whitewater. The dish featured large chunks of chicken spiced with a blend of cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander and allspice along with bits of feta cheese and cilantro in a flour tortilla.

WHITEWATER

My favorite Whitewater lunch spot is just as great for takeout.

Taco Fresco has been serving fresh, unique treats for about seven years. It is a small, five- table space with funky decor (purple and orange walls and a boho vibe), and there are wonderful daily specials. The mantra: “Everything is homemade except the tortillas.”

Taco Fresco offers dine-in seating in addition to delivery from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Delivery service includes anything on the menu.

I always like to try the agua fresco, and this time, the featured flavor was hibiscus lime. It was a pretty purple, mild drink that wasn’t too sweet but had a light citrus taste. Taco Fresco also serves beer and wine if you dine in.

Also on the specials board the day I picked up our orders was crab and mussel soup ($8 per bowl). That appealed to me. From experience, I was expecting something similar to a rich crab bisque. Instead, this was light and fresh.

I am hardcore for chips and salsa ($2.99), so I got a sizable bag of chips that were solid (not thick) and crispy. Taco Fresco’s homemade salsa is rich, smooth, and it stays on the chips. Somewhere between mild and medium, it was just perfect for me.

The menu is diverse, and it doesn’t focus on just the usual tacos, burritos and quesadillas.

I often sample the chorizo tacos, but this time, I branched out and ordered a Moroccan chicken taco ($3.99). Large chunks of spiced chicken breast were seasoned with a vibrant spice blend of cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander and allspice along with bits of feta cheese and cilantro—all wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was exceptional.

I also sampled a harvest potato taco ($2.99) which had sweet potato, poblano peppers, mushrooms, onion and a balsamic sauce.

Like me, Nikki was swayed by the taco options. She ordered a fish taco ($3.59), shrimp taco ($3.99) and a side of rice and beans ($2).

The fish taco included battered fish topped with a sweet mango salsa and slaw. It was mild and delicious. The shrimp taco featured pico de gallo and shredded lettuce. The shrimp were seasoned and grilled and added a slight kick to the overall taste.

What actually surprised Nikki was the side of rice and beans. Instead of the clumpy rice and refried beans that usually accompany a taco dinner, this rice was fluffy, and the black beans were whole rather than mushy. Both were seasoned just right.

Helene ordered a paloma (tequila and grapefruit juice) before sitting down to her Asian bowl ($9.99). If you are not a big tortilla fan, this bowl might be an option for you. The dish is basically a burrito in a bowl, so there is no need to eat with your hands and have the burrito fall apart, potentially making a huge mess.

Helene’s dish resembled a poke bowl with Spanish rice, black beans and sweet grilled onions separated in the bowl with plenty of chopped steak on top along with sriracha slaw and a fried egg. Anything with a fried egg on top wins Helene over, and this meal sure did.

There also was a ginger marinade that ended up on the bottom of the bowl, but it was nothing a good stir could not fix. The flavors were fresh and melded well as a whole. It was a delicious and hearty meal.

Jennifer was especially hungry the day we ordered. She requested chips and guacamole ($6) as an appetizer. Thick, lightly-salted, crispy tortilla chips came with a good-sized container of guacamole.

Jennifer loves guac, and she could easily eat it by the spoonful. This variation was thick and creamy with chunks of ripe avocado, diced tomatoes and a hint of lime juice.

For her entree, Jennifer chose the steak burrito bowl ($13.98), an enormous bowl consisting of strips of fork-tender steak, black beans, nicely charred grilled bell peppers and onions and Mexican rice—all topped with chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce. A side of sour cream came with her meal.

What Jennifer enjoyed most about the dish was the marinated steak strips, which were moist with just a trace of citrus. With more than enough food for one sitting, she was pleased to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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