Taqueria el Barrio Opens This Week in Brookline

Tacos, tortas, and more mix-and-match Mexican fare is on the menu for the Boston University area.

Taqueria el Barrio full dining room

There’s plenty of room to dine in at Taqueria el Barrio in Brookline. / Photos by Isabel Roeder

Taqueria el Barrio is about to school the greater-Boston University crowd on authentic Mexican fast food. The highly anticipated taco shop opens Tuesday, August 6, bringing tacos, tortas, agua frescas, and more to Commonwealth Ave., courtesy of industry pro Servio Garcia.

An owner and general manager of wine bar darling Bisq, and its Somerville sister Bergamot, Garcia is a fine-dining veteran. He originally hails from Mexico, with roots in Puebla and Sonora.

“I always wanted to open a Mexican restaurant,” he says, “but I never wanted to open a restaurant that didn’t honor our food.”

So, for this passion project, Garcia has partnered with Alex Saenz, chef at Bisq and its new, charcuterie-oriented outpost at Time Out Market.

At Taqueria el Barrio, Saenz hired executive chef Luis Figueroa to oversee a quick-service, mix-and-match menu of flavor-packed proteins like carnitas, chicharron, or al pastor pork; grilled chicken; fried fish, carmelo (grilled steak with cheese and beans), and more available as tacos (choose between house-made flour tortillas or corn tortillas made locally by Mi Tierra), quesadillas, tortas, or plates with beans and tortillas.

“We’re going to make chorizo with soy, or so it’s going to be a vegetarian dish,” Garcia adds.

Taqueria el Barrio tacos live on a edge counter

Taqueria el Barrio brings authentic tacos to the Boston University area of Brookline. / Photos by Isabel Roeder

There are churros for dessert, and house-made drinks which include horchata and jamaica (hibiscus agua fresca). Nothing on the menu tops $10; tacos are under $3, including guacamole.

Though it seems like a straightforward concept, it’s been several years in the making. “I wanted to open something I was proud to serve,” Garcia says. To get there, he needed to find the right people (that includes Saenz and fellow Mexican, Figueroa), as well as find the right location. “My idea is pretty much fast food for us in Mexico. It’s appropriate for being in a college area, a high-traffic-area.”

Along with the authentic food and soft drinks, the decor of Taqueria el Barrio also reflects Garcia’s upbringing. The tables are topped with vibrant talavera tiles, a common design feature in churches, restaurants, and other places around where Garcia grew up in Mexico’s northwest state. A live-edge wood counter provides a more casual dining-in option.

The restaurant, a former UBurger space right off the Babcock Street stop on the Green Line, went through renovations that preserved an exposed brick wall. It’s now dotted with potted plants, and offset with corrugated metal and the taco shop’s bright skull logo.

Taqueria el Barrio passed its final inspections last week and has welcomed friends and family. Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 6, it’s open every day, from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and until 10 p.m. on Sundays.

1022 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Instagram.

Taqueria el Barrio exterior

Taqueria el Barrio is located at the Babcock Street Green Line stop, next door to Love Art Udon. / Photos by Isabel Roeder

Taqueria el Barrio Servio Garcia Alex Saenz

Servio Garcia (left) and Alex Saenz are partners at Taqueria el Barrio / Photos by Isabel Roeder

Photos by Isabel Roeder

Click to view larger. / Photo courtesy of Taqueria el Barrio