129 S. Broadway, Baltimore MD 21231
Illustrations by Alicia Jacobs
Many Baltimoreans have already discovered that Arcos’ courtyard is quite a lovely place to be on a sunny day. With its arched brick doorways and loads of hanging plants, it is a tranquil and delightful space in which to eat tacos. The interior of the restaurant is equally cozy and (in case you happen to be there on a rainy day) sitting at a tall, carved wooden stool the front bar is a great way to close out your work week. The chef here likes to play with his food and is not hesitant to create dishes that are a bit off the beaten path. You can still find all the Mexican classics, but also delve into the next level of Mexican cuisine through this chef’s work.
This only happened to us at one other restaurant in Baltimore – but we have to call this a tie here. It was too hard to pick between Arcos’ tacos de pescado (fish) and their tacos al pastor (pork). The fish taco is given its unique flavor by being cooked with cloves. Tilapia is simmered in a chunky tomato sauce, with onions and peppers. The cloves give this fish such an interesting depth of flavor that, when counterbalanced by the acidity of the tomatoes, yields a complex and soothing flavor. But just when we thought we had identified our favorite menu item, we bit into the tacos al pastor and realized that while all the interior ingredients looked like pork, there was in fact, a mix of grilled pineapple and pork in our soft corn tortillas. The chef talked to us about this combination and explained that this is a dish from Veracruz and that the sauce is actually thickened with chayote, a nod to true Mexican homestyle cooking. The al pastor is then topped with diced raw onion and chopped cilantro. Thanks, Chef, for showing us some new directions in Mexican cooking!