Every Day is Taco Tuesday on Detroit Road
Last year, some friends and I went on an impromptu taco crawl in Lakewood, where three restaurants featuring tacos opened within months of each other. The unique thing about tacos is that because they lend themselves to thousands of different variations, it comes down to your personal preferences and to the care taken by their creator. There really aren’t bad tacos, there are just good, better, and best. I can tell that there is some guy at Barrio (Lakewood) like me, who lays in bed at night and thinks about what they are having for lunch tomorrow. They also taste some painstakingly braised meat and think, "OOOH! You know what would be good with this?" For me, Barrio in Lakewood is the standard for a unique, well-thought-out taste combination. Also, their tacos are individually wrapped in foil for those of us who need a taco bib.
The other thing that taco style restaurants have is an obsession with guacamole. Don’t get me wrong, I like guacamole, it seems that it is either good or terrible. And if it is freshly made, it is usually good. I prefer to focus on the queso (creamy cheese, salsa, and whatnot) or even better fundido (melted, flaming, cheese and chorizo) and house-made salsa combinations.
Going head-to-head in the most recent Detroit Road Taco Wars are two that opened recently a few blocks apart, Bomba Tacos and Rum (19880 Detroit Rd, Rocky River) and Fresco Mexican Grill & Salsa Bar (19310 Detroit Road, Rocky River).
Depending on what dining experience you are looking for, they both have some attractive qualities and challenges. Starting with the style of service, Bomba is a sit-down, share-small-plates environment. Fresco is a quick casual service, place-your-order-and-wait-at-your-table-for-food-to-be-delivered place.
Bomba’s environment lends itself to dining with friends, couples, and family socializing where a mojito is a welcome guest. My teenage son is a hot pepper, if-your-mouth-isn’t-burning-you-are-doing-it-wrong, Mexican food lover. His complaint about Bomba is that it is a bit like the environment, a little trendy and very mild. To be fair, it isn’t a Mexican restaurant, it is Latin-style food which is about layering textures and flavors with ingredients native to the culture. Instead of traditional corn chips, a house-made blend of yucca, plantain, malanga and corn chips is served. At first the children were horrified but then they tasted them. Bomba offers a large variety of sharable plates and sides that are so good that you won’t want to share. The fundido with chorizo ($10) was devoured in minutes. The table behind us was raving about the ceviche ($8.50). We each ordered different tacos. Top winners at our table were the chorizo and sweet potato, BBQ pork, and crispy shrimp. At $3/4 per taco there are plenty of options and proteins to try. The menu offers so many diverse and delicious-sounding items that frequenting Bomba is the only solution to finding your new favorite item. Lunch Special and Happy Hours as well as a very nice outdoor patio will be great for summer.
Fresco Mexican Grill offers soft shell and crunchy tacos and burritos made with a variety of proteins, including Barbacoa beef (braised for 10 hours), succulent pulled pork and super fresh toppings. Each item comes with some fresh chips. There is also a fresh salsa bar including many tasty varieties from salsa verde to habanero. Each of these is well-crafted with varied heat levels alongside a spicy pepper condiment sauce bar. The base proteins were all flavorful and the salsa bar and saucing area allow for customizing to personal taste, which really enhances the experience. Like Bomba, the tacos are priced well at $3-$3.50 per or 3 for $7.99 allowing for trying new things. The tacos are hearty but not heavy and fresh is the best word to describe the overall taste. The soft corn/flour shell does break up a bit because of the juiciness of the meat and sauce, which doesn’t make it unpleasant, just a little messy. The only drawback that stood out was that upon completing your meal it seems natural to clear your dishes but there are no trash cans available; I guess this is why there is a tip line on the payment receipt. Overall, it offers much better food than its quick serve, giant burrito, nationwide, competitor with similar cost and more options.
Both Fresco and Bomba offer gluten-free shell options and nice kid’s menus. The guacamole is good, Bomba’s is fancier. So whether you like to dress up and eat tacos or would like to enjoy them without the pressure of sharing, each has a market in its own right. Taco Tuesday is Taco everyday on Detroit Road.
Colleen Wing is a Rocky River resident, wife, and mother of two boys. She has a degree in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts and is currently a specialty cake and dessert baker under the name "Cake Following."
Colleen is a Rocky River resident, wife and mother of two boys. She has a degree in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts and is currently a specialty cake and dessert baker under the name Cake Following.