â€‹I often get asked, “Where should I go for tacos in Westchester?” My answer always includes a few usual suspects, but one of the first restaurants I enthusiastically blurt out is Halstead Ave Taqueria in Harrison. So you can imagine my delight when owner Luis Aguilera announced plans to open Taco Shack, a spinoff location in Port Chester.
A native of Mexico and longtime Harrison resident, Aguilera opened nearby for sentimental reasons. “I always remembered coming to Port Chester to eat,” he says. “My dad would take me to Pat’s Hubba Hubba for chili dogs since before I was in high school.”
Think of Taco Shack as both a sequel and an alter ego. Noticeable is Taco Shack’s bigger size. It’s not massive by any means, but it’s more of a sit-down experience as opposed to Halstead Ave’s eat-and-go/takeout vibe. Something Aguilera stresses at both restaurants is a dedication to freshness. Nothing is frozen or out of a can except for the condensed milk for tres leches cake (pictured above). The recipes come from his family or are inspired by the food he ate growing up (he constantly eats in his restaurants to make sure it’s up to his standards).
You’ll notice in either restaurant that tacos are king (obviously). Only two of Taco Shack’s six offerings are carryovers from Halstead: chicken tinga (shown above) and a hard-shell ground beef taco that’ll make you ditch those Old El Paso kits. Other notable tacos — who am I kidding, they’re all notable — are chicharrón with hand-slapped guac, queso fresco, and pork cracklin’; crumbled spicy chorizo that’s held together by melted Oaxaca cheese; and a special steak and hand-cut French fries taco with ketchup and pico de gallo, a take on the Peruvian classic lomo saltado. I still can’t pick a favorite.
Enchiladas are another focal point you won’t want to miss, especially the enchiladas verdes (above), smothered in zesty tomatillo sauce. You can choose any taco meat for the enchiladas (I had mine with shredded brisket) or switch up your sauce to something milder like red guajillo or something more complex like the sweet mole.
To drink, Taco Shack has classic agua frescas, including horchata (rice water, condensed milk, vanilla) and jamaica (roselle flower, cane sugar, water), plus fresh squeezed, made-to-order juice concoctions like limeade (lime juice, orange juice, cane sugar, water, house-made hibiscus syrup) and pineapple crush (pineapple, lime juice, cane sugar, water, cinnamon).
Taco Shack’s liquor license is pending; until it’s in effect, Aguilera says it’s cool to BYOB. In due time they’ll debut cocktails (hopefully some that mix with those juice drinks), quality tequilas, and beer.
As of now, Taco Shack is open daily from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., so until they extend their hours, you’ll have to squeeze into that window. And don’t wait for Taco Tuesday. Any day that ends in “y” is totally acceptable when it comes to eating some of Westchester’s finest tacos.
27 N Main Street; Port Chester
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