Nick's Picks: Neno's
Photo by Nicholas Abreu
Rochester is currently experiencing a golden age of tacos. Which is great, unless you’re indecisive, in which case, paralysis by overanalysis can become all too real.
When choosing where to get a taco in the 585, one can chase things down with a margarita at Dorado, party at Bitter Honey, survey the new scene at Old Pueblo Grill, get classy at Ox and Stone, hit happy hour at La Casa, or drive to the suburbs for Lulu Taqueria, just to name a few options. The choices don’t stop there, however. Deciding between a flour or corn tortilla and whether to add chicken, pork, beef, fish, shrimp, or tofu can also confound diners. But let me make this simple for you. If you are a taco purist, look no further than the braised beef taco at Neno’s.
After operating as a food truck from 2015 until this August, Neno’s now inhabits a modest space at 649 Monroe Avenue. With only one small table, a handful of counter seats, and no liquor license, Neno’s atmosphere, while cute and inviting with bright colors and odes to Mexico, is not its selling point. The focus is on food—and it shows.
Neno’s braised beef tacos start with two corn tortillas: one holding everything together and the other for support, which is necessary since ingredients are piled high. The tortillas provide a full-bodied, toasted corn flavor while also sopping up salsa verde and juices from the wonderfully moist braised beef. Despite this, Neno’s tortillas do not become soggy or waterlogged; they instead maintain a firm but pliable form. Following five hours of braising in a mix of chiles, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and several other seasonings, the beef develops a rich, savory flavor with a bit of spice. Cooking continuously in low heat makes the beef so tender that it can break apart with the slightest touch. Neno’s taco are topped with a small amount of queso fresco as well as pickled red onions and radishes for color and crunch. One order comes with three tacos for $10. If, for whatever reason, diners are inclined to stray from the braised beef taco, Neno’s also offers guisado chicken, baja fish, al pastor, carnitas, and carne asada.
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