Top Dining Ambiance: Taqueria Pacifica

Come for the burritos, but don't miss the art

Monday, March 10, 2008

Taqueria Pacifica103 Empire St., Providence(401) 621-8785Open 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tues. to Sat.

I don’t usually eat Mexican food because, let’s face it, its effects on bowels are unfortunate. However, I make an exception for Taqueria Pacifica. Though Empire Street looks nothing like Mexico, the Taqueria’s patrons will find quality Mexican food in an environment that would make even the loneliest soul feel at home.

Located inside AS220, a multi-purpose art gallery and performance space, the Taqueria complements artists’ and party hoppers’ alcohol with food and prides itself on the personal atmosphere and the staff’s warm demeanor.

Complete with a plastic cup full of silverware, a help-yourself keg labeled “W” for water and wooden toy cubes to match diners with their orders (the likes of which I have not seen since pre-school), the Taqueria’s dining scheme is simple. While the most expensive item on the menu is no more than $10, everything is delicious.

The Taqueria is co-owned by husband and wife Tyler Long and Allison Kyner. When they first started living together, the couple had hardly any money, so, logically, all they cooked were burritos. Then, they founded the Taqueria in a truck. After two years of success, the business moved to a permanent location in the AS220 bar.

But what’s the secret to their success? There isn’t one, Kyner said. Grill chef Brandon “Thunderbolt” Amorin said that he just does “whatever he wants,” and waitress Liz Novak and grill chef James Day said the secret was “making fun of each other the whole time.” Whatever the secret to success, the employees clearly enjoy working in, and contributing to, the Taqueria’s laidback ambiance.

Patrons ranging from quirky Johnson and Wales students to yuppies frequently come in and hug the waitresses over the counter. Novak said she knows many of her customers personally.

Shortly after sitting down, I was greeted with a smile and a “What can I get ‘cha?”

They grilled me a $7.00 “Joesadilla,” a gooey, grilled quesadilla with barbeque chicken. After just a few minutes of learning from my cube that “M” is the first letter of “mouse” and “mittens” and chatting amicably with the hilarious employees, I was not let down by my lunch.

And the best part: there was no animosity between the Joesadilla and my intestines.

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