I have found the best tacos I have ever eaten. It is decided. Too bad actually eating at the restaurant that serves them is next to impossible. Even though it may have been a weeknight when I went, the rest of Boston has discovered that Lone Star Taco Bar has the best Mexican street food for miles around. Unfortunately, Lone Star appears to have no idea how to handle their good fortune and boasts some of the worst service I have ever received at a restaurant. So this review is going to be a bit of a mixed bag.
The place I am talking about is called Lone Star Taco Bar and it is located in Allston, Ma.
Let’s start with the good: The menu is not huge, but it doesn’t need to be. They serve fish tacos, avocado tacos, carnitas tacos, and barbacoa tacos. You order them individually, like tapas, then when they arrive the first bite sends you into a world of delight. I ordered the carnitas and the barbacoa and though the carnitas was good, it was nothing next to the barbacoa. Spicy and rich, with red onion and avocado providing the perfect complement to the smoked brisket, I couldn’t get the thing into my stomach fast enough. The barbacoa is extremely spicy though, so be sure you have one of their tequila-heavy drinks on hand to wash it down. I had their Paloma and was in seventh heaven. They also have something called a Mexican Happy Meal, which includes a shot of tequila, a shot of sangrita (which tastes like super spicy V8) and then a pint of Dos Equis to wash it all down. A couple of those and the bad service will be a mostly distant memory.
The chips and guacamole are another absolute must. Between five of us we polished off two big containers of it and a whole lot of chips. And by polished off I mean we practically licked the bowls. It is just exceptional and rich and the chips are fresh and as crispy as they should be. Now, price-wise the place is also kind of a mixed bag. The food is very decently priced and the drinks are pretty expensive, which is another thing that leads me to my main advice about this restaurant: order ahead and pick up your food, then go and eat it somewhere else. Thankfully they have this option, and it is definitely what I will be doing in the future.
The place is so small that it is always busy and the environment is just not that wonderful that you have to eat inside the actual restaurant. And if you can get seated at a table in under an hour, you are a luckier person than I was. We were told when we got there that the wait would be twenty minutes. An hour and fifteen minutes later, we were seated. By this time all of us were so hungry that the food could have tasted like hot garbage and we would have wolfed it down. The wait also took a tiny bit away from my ability to enjoy the otherwise fantastic food. I was so hungry I wolfed down two tacos and a ton of chips and barely tasted what I was eating. I know I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been able to take my time and savor, instead of trying to prevent myself from fainting in the middle of the restaurant.
And that leads me to the bad: Although it is not the staff’s fault that the place is so small or so popular, it would have been nice to have a more realistic time estimate. If I had known that I would be waiting over an hour, well, I honestly would have left. There are plenty of other great food joints in the Allston area within walking distance of Lone Star, including their sister restaurant Deep Ellum, which is right next door. It is also not entirely the staff’s fault that the people taking up the majority of the tables were content to sit for at least an hour after they had stopped eating or ordering anything new and just hang out. I completely understand the impulse to do this and I have done it myself. And if you are sitting in a restaurant that is of a decent size or has no one waiting for a table, then go for it. However, when the same five obviously starving women have been staring in the window for over an hour, along with a ton of other people waiting for a table, it is time to be considerate and give up your table. I saw people who were done eating when I first went in sit at their table and chat for an hour, something that deprives waitresses of their tips and other customers of any possibility of enjoying the same environment you obviously are.
Once we were actually seated, our waitress came and was very nice. She got us our food and didn’t seem at all phased by how quickly we inhaled it. She was new, however, so she had another waiter who was also working with her on our table. This person was rude and obviously had no desire to make a favorable impression on anyone. He brought us things we hadn’t ordered, was annoyed when we didn’t want to keep them (and thus pay for them), constantly bothered our table by coming over again and again to pick up every stray bit of paper or empty plate he could find, and when we were taking care of the check, brought us one even though our waitress had already given it to us, even refusing to believe us when we referred him to her. Finally, when one of the drinks on one of our checks was incorrectly listed as being more expensive than it said on the menu, he got severely annoyed that we should want to get it fixed.
I left the place full, but not quite happy, and with an intention to eat their food often but never to eat it in the actual restaurant again. And that is what I suggest you do too. I am not exaggerating about the quality of this food. It is fresh and delicious, they have a lot of specials that are mind-blowing, and it is all well well worth the nonsense we had to put up with to enjoy it. But if you can avoid the nonsense and still eat the food… why wouldn’t you?