Am I going to be loco of Loquito in Hoboken? I know this is an easy way to start this post when you know that Loquito is a diminutive of loco that means crazy in Spanish. Loquito opened few weeks ago on Washington street, result of the cooperation of Chef Stephen El-Hassan, co-owner of O’Bagel, his sister Helengrace and Sammy Abdo, co-founder of Michigan’s Jersey Bagel and Deli. With a name like Loquito, you would expect a taqueria, but the mention “tacos arabes” below the name on the awning makes you wonder what kind of tacos they serve. At first, I thought it would be like the tacos you find in France: the tacos de Lyon, that are more a North African version of a burrito (fantastic with merguez sausage and cheese but quite heavy!). No, these are more a direct Lebanese twist on the classic Mexican dish, the tortilla being replaced by pan árabe or tandoori mountain bread and the filling being mostly meat if not for the falafel that has avocado in it to continue of the Mexican-Lebanese theme.
This is a small place where you order at the counter before sitting on one of the few stools. The order is in three steps:
First you pick the base that is either tacos or a bowl with a choice of rice (white or brown) or lettuce. The bowls will also have corn elote, hummus and black beans.
Then you pick the protein. I already mentioned the avocado falafel, so let’s talk about the meat: they propose pollo shawarma that is thin slices of roasted chicken seasoned in their own spice blend, beef barbacoa (it is not on the menu and was proposed instead of kifta, a seasoned ground beef with citrus zest, mint, parsley and Serrano pepper. The last meat choice was the Za’atar carnitas, that is shredded pork shoulder that is braised for six hours in their Za’atar-mojo blend.
Last, you choose the style. They offer three different:
- The O.G., made with garlic toum, lemon and pico de arabe (gallo?).
- Rojo: garlic toum, tahini mole, pomegranate, mint, turmeric, pickled onions and roasted sesame seeds.
- Verde: garlic toum, salsa verde, minced Serrano pepper, onion, cilantro, beet-pickled turnip (nice purple color) and pomegranate.
So first you may wonder what garlic toum is: toum is a garlic sauce similar to the French aioli, made with garlic, salt, olive oil or vegetable oil, and lemon juice.
My choice was simple: I mixed the meat dressed it based on the order I made: chicken O.G., beef barbacoa Rojo and pork verde.
The tacos came pretty quickly, presented next to each other. They had a small size so definitely three is a good portion. My favorite was the pollo shawarma that was very flavorful, followed by the pork and then the beef. All were juicy and I admit that it was a bit messy to eat, because of the sauce dripping. The shell was quite good, slightly chewy.
The bowl was also delicious, filling, with the falafel that I would not mind having in tacos.
With our meal, we also tried their turmeric lemonade that was perfectly made as well as a mango soda from Jarritos, one of our favorite brands (I prefer pineapple though).
No dessert: I was set to get their churro donuts but they are not making it anymore as it seems it is too much work and they are working on a new dessert that will come soon. So, this is another reason to go back!
Enjoy (I did)!
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Loquito - 217 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030