Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Very International Evening: Tacos at La Verdad; Gogol Bordello and DeVotchKa at House of Blues

La Verdad
I first discovered Ken Oringer's La Verdad on a late March night after going to a Dropkick Murphys shows at the House of Blues. Two of my friends live nearby and said it was the best place in the world, and the rest of us couldn't say no to late night tacos. Well, my friends were right. We sat in the tiny takeout section, which seemed surprisingly empty for such a great post-show option.

Last night, we went to another show at House of Blues - more on that amazing part of the night after the food part of this post - so we opted for a sit-down meal in the restaurant part. My friends arrived a few minutes after us, and they told me via phone to order a pitcher or margarita, meaning a pitcher of beer or a margarita for each, but I heard "pitcher of margarita," so we ended up with a whole lot of margarita. It was tasty but on the weak side.

Julia and Geoff swear by the fish tacos, and Joel is obsessed with the duck tacos that he had back in March. I got a combo of three tacos: pastor traditionale (pork adobo, roast pineapple (which seemed to be missing), lime, cilantro, onion), turkey pastor (turkey with cinnamon, brown sugar and chili marinade, mole, toasted sesame seeds), and chorizo y papas (chorizo, potato, poblano, lime, cilantro, onion). All of the tacos were delicious; my favorite was the chorizo, which had just a hint of spice. The duck tacos are definitely worth trying as well. (Where else can you find duck tacos? I've never seen them anywhere.)
Pork in the foreground, chorizo in the back (left), turkey on the right.
One thing left me really irritated, though. The taco plates, which cost around $10-12 depending on what you get, come with refried beans and slaw. Each costs $3 if you order it as a side dish. Rice is also a $3 side dish. I don't like beans and slaw, so I asked if I could just get rice instead of both of those. I know substitutions can be a pain, but honestly, that seems like a substitution that would make the dish easier (and cheaper). Maybe I'm wrong. But they insisted on charging me $3 for a side of rice, even though I didn't even want the other two sides. Here is the offending rice, which was most definitely not worth $3:
$3 rice. Meh.
I would have been happy to pay a small substitution fee, but I don't think I should have had to pay for a side dish. As it turns out, they messed up and put the beans and slaw on my plate and left them off my friend's plate, but they quickly brought the missing sides once we told them what happened. On the topic of prices, I'm also a little mystified by the fact that the cocktails cost the same as most of the food.

Anyway, despite those issues, I really like La Verdad for "gourmet" tacos. If you're looking for something less than gourmet, though, I do have to throw in a plug for my other favorite taco place: Tacos Lupita near Porter Square in Somerville.

La Verdad Taqueria Mexicana on Urbanspoon

I first heard DeVotchKa's music in the trailer for Everything Is Illuminated (which, by the way, is both an amazing movie and an amazing book). I was hooked. I went to Bonnaroo 2006 but arrived just an hour too late to see them, so last night was the first time I finally got to go to a show. I won't tell you about their history because the bio on their website (warning: music autoplays) is fantastic and definitely worth the read. They play a unique type of Eastern European-style rock tinged with sousaphones, theremins, accordions, and such. When I'm not writing or eating, I'm playing whatever instrument I can get my hands on, so I'm really into the fact that each member of DeVotchKa plays at least three different instruments. From the booming bass of the sousaphone (whose player also plays upright bass) to the eerie whine of the theremin to the lead singer's haunting vocals, DeVotchKa put on an intense and impressive set. I almost forgot to mention the crazy circus act during one of the songs: two of the strongest and most flexible women I've ever seen shimmied up a couple ribbons dangling from the ceiling and did all sorts of twists, turns, and poses. It was a really cool addition to the music.

Gogol Bordello
If you've never heard gypsy punk music, you're in for a treat. Gogol Bordello is one of the earlier bands to popularize the genre, and I think they actually coined the term "gypsy punk," but I might be wrong. I first started listening to them within the last year after hearing my boyfriend's band, Somerville Symphony Orkestar, cover one of their songs. Like DeVotchKa, Gogol Bordello features quite a mix of instruments that may seem randomly thrown together: accordion, brass, violin, and more. And here's another connection: Eugene Hutz, the lead singer of Gogol Bordello, had a starring roll in Everything Is Illuminated. Hutz, a lanky but muscular powerhouse of a guy with the creepiest/greatest mustache ever, ended up shirtless by the end of the show, pouring water and wine on the fans lucky enough to be near the stage. The violin player, who looked to be in his 60s, was equally energetic and ridiculously talented. The whole set - which was long, sweaty, and exhilarating - was full of primal beats, crazy energy, and very tight instrumentation. Even if you don't think gypsy punk sounds like a genre you'd be into, I highly recommend seeing Gogol Bordello - you'll leave with the feeling that you're part of a raucous, rowdy rebellion against something, but you'll have no idea quite what it is you're rebelling against.


  1. You like Mexican food except when it has beans. Gogol Bordello and DeVotchka seem like bands that are good to see live.

  2. Bonfire has duck tacos and does $1 tacos on thursdays


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