The Lunch Break Chronicles

with Chris Preovolos

I [HEART] TACOS

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Chris Preovolos/The Advocate

9/12/2008

CASA VILLA: 182 WEST MAIN ST, STAMFORD

As a fifth-generation Californian, I come from a magical land of street-corner tamale vendors, homemade tortillas and the ubiquitous urban oasis: the taco truck.

While not exactly mobile, this brings me to Casa Villa, a Mexican eatery on Stamford’s West Side. To be honest, I’m not sure what they serve besides tacos as I rarely look at the menu.

Indeed, I recently noted that my customary order of tres tacos al pastor con arroz y frijoles (and a grapefruit-flavored Jarritos) is anticipated by the staff upon my entry.

In the months it was closed after a fatal car accident resulted in the destruction of the restaurant’s small seating area (no diners were injured), I was adrift in a taco-less world few could enjoy. I tried the lone taco truck, the chain restaurants and the more yuppified options. It was not the same.

I found solace on trips to California where I sampled some very fine tacos. Tacos de camarones in Napa. Tacos de pescado in San Diego. Tacos de carne asada in Vallejo, my hometown. But what I really needed was a little piece of home right here in Stamford.

In Casa Villa, the steady, accordion-laced ranchera soundtrack, the reassuring presence of the mustachioed revolutionary Emiliano Zapata gazing down from the orange-colored walls, the sizzle of the grill…it all does wonders for my sanity.

The tacos al pastor are a house special–and for good reason, owner Alvino Villa hails from Puebla, Mexico, where the dish originated. The chopped pork atop a couple of warm corn tortillas is spicy and is finished with pineapple, onions and cilantro. They arrive quickly served with wedges of lime and their own salsa verde.

I’m not here to tell you these are the best tacos al pastor I’ve ever had. So subjective are tacos this would be disingenuous, but all things considered–particularly the appalling lack of decent Mexican food in the area–they should be given a chance.

Tacovangelist that I am, I haven’t been entirely successful in my endeavor to spread the word; a friend of mine–a transplant from San Diego–had patently refused to try Casa Villa on the presumption that Mexican food in Connecticut simply cannot be edible. However, I’m not sure I can entirely trust her judgement knowing that a San Diego invention, the “California Burrito,” is a grotesque abomination that involves stuffing a perfectly good carne asada burrito with French fries.

…but I digress. Did I mention I love tacos?

–CP

Categories: food
Chris Preovolos

11 Responses

  1. chris says:

    Oh, should really mention two places, even less formal than Casavilla in Norwalk.

    Los Portales Grocery and Tacos Mexico, which are about two blocks apart on Ft. Point St. right off of Exit 16.

    Lost Portales has authentic tacos and soups and I like the carnitas burrito at Tacos Mexico because it is filled with avocado and cheese and gooeyness that reminds me of burritos in California. I have to thank staff writer John Nickerson, a native of Darien, but who spent a good deal of time on the West Coast for this tip.

    –CP

  2. chris says:

    Cheryl,

    Fist off, I know noting about Westchester.

    But I really don’t know about any other decent places in the area. Casa Villa is really laid back and they don’t even really have table service, but I love the tacos.

    I find that Mexican food is really a personal thing, a lot of what I think of when I think of Mexican food is really Tex-Mex or specific to California, though I’ve since come to embrace a broader view.

    But anyway, Casavilla is really the only place that I go back to over and over. And a couple of good friends who have either lived in or spent a good deal of time in Mexico City seem to agree with me.

    –CP

  3. Cheryl says:

    I will definitely check out this restaurante. But are there ANY other good Mexican eateries in the area, including in Westchester??? I certainly have not found one… please help!

  4. [...] they started serving up cabrito tacos, but only on weekends. I had to fall back on the old standby, tacos al pastor, my standard Casa Villa order. I would have to [...]

  5. [...] they started serving up cabrito tacos, but only on weekends. I had to fall back on the old standby, tacos de al pastor, my standard Casa Villa order. I would have to [...]

  6. [...] in my hometown, Vallejo, Calif., for a mess of $1.25 al pastor tacos. They are not as good as the al pastor tacos at Casa Villa in Stamford, but they certainly hit the [...]

  7. [...] in my hometown, Vallejo, Calif., for a mess of $1.25 al pastor tacos. They are not as good as the al pastor tacos at Casa Villa in Stamford, but they certainly hit the [...]

  8. [...] UPDATE: The brothers from Calexico took top honors in this year’s Vendy Awards. I need to head down to SoHo ASAP for a taco. Hopefully next week…and I take back what I said about San Diego. [...]

  9. [...] UPDATE: The brothers from Calexico took top honors this year. I need to head down to SoHo ASAP for a taco. Hopefully next week…and I take back what I said about San Diego. [...]

  10. spreovolos says:

    don’t know the california tacos….i dont criticize your extra hot oil =)

  11. Stephanie Preovolos says:

    those look gooooooood