Lunch, Anyone? Lone Star Taco Bar
Small Allston Tex-Mex joint packs a punch
Blink and you might easily miss Lone Star Taco Bar. With its only signage a single silver star, this wonderful Tex-Mex haven is tucked into a small space on Cambridge Street in Allston. Aaron Sanders and Max Toste, who also own Deep Ellum next door, opened Lone Star in January 2012. With its emphasis on genuine Mexican street food made with artisanal products and house-made ingredients, and an extensive tequila, mezcal, and beer menu, you’ll find the place as irresistible as we did.
Lured by promising word-of-mouth, we took the bus to Allston on a recent Tuesday afternoon. Lone Star’s charming interior is small and narrow, with a wood-beamed ceiling, pots of cacti, dark wooden booths, a cloudy oval mirror, and a long bar. An old Western movie playing on the TV only enhanced the feeling that we were somewhere in the Southwest.
Lone Star’s menu is short, simple, and enticing, with an emphasis on the kind of tacos you’d find in the open air markets in Mazatlan, Mexico. Tacos are served one per order and while they’re small, they’re also filling. Depending on how hungry you are, you’ll probably want to order at least two, and maybe as many as four. We started off with an appetizer of chips and guacamole ($9). The made-to-order guacamole, piled on sturdy fried corn chips, was creamy and smooth, with great flavor and a little kick.
Next, we ordered a number of tacos, which we happily shared. One bite told us that Lone Star deserves its reputation as one of the Boston area’s best taco bars. Handmade masa harina corn tortillas support ample fillings like mesquite-smoked beef barbacoa and toppings like pickled red onion and queso fresco. The chilis are roasted, smoked, and pickled on site. We had to try the Baja fish of the day taco ($4), beer-battered white fish served with pickled cabbage slaw and chili mango aioli. The fresh fish had a slight crunch on the outside, with the fuchsia cabbage lending a pop of color. The beef barbacoa ($4) was filled with smoked brisket, pickled red onion, avocado crema, and cotija (a crumbly Mexican cheese). We liked the barbacoa’s gentle heat and combination of textures. The savory and flavorful carnitas pork ($4) was a personal favorite, featuring confit pork shoulder, salsa verde, cilantro, and queso fresco. The chicken ranchero tostada ($5), an open taco on a crispy tortilla, came stuffed with beans, ranchero braised chicken, Napa cabbage, and crema. The dish was filling, but could have used more flavor.
We also ordered a couple of Lone Star’s side dishes. We decided that the house beans and rice ($3) were a necessary companion for tacos—but these were not the bland, subpar beans and rice we’re used to being served in Tex-Mex chain restaurants. Lone Star’s wowed us. However, it was another side—the grilled street corn ($6)—that was easily the most delicious item we ordered. The three chunks of corn on the cob were slightly charred and topped with chili lime aioli, cotija, and cilantro. The salty cotija cheese mingled with the sweetness of the grilled corn to make for a crave-worthy snack.
To wash it all down, we got two drinks: a Kulmbacher, a light German pilsner on draft ($7) and a Lone Star margarita ($10), a classic margarita. Like Deep Ellum, Lone Star prides itself on its carefully crafted cocktail menu, so be sure to ask for suggestions. The cocktails have a decidedly southwestern feel and tequilas of all kinds take pride of place (the bar offers several dozen). The El Diablo Margarita ($10) is a carefully calibrated blend of Reposado tequila, mescal, lime, jalapeno, and habanero agave syrup. The Lucha Libre is made with blanco tequila, lime, agave, and orange-blossom water and is served over ice.
There’s no bad time to try Lone Star. Brunch, with its jalapeño corncakes ($5) and papas con chorizo, roasted red bliss and sweet potatoes, housemade chorizo, poblano peppers, all topped with fried eggs ($8), is served every day until 4 p.m., and you can grab a late night drink and a snack until 2 a.m. every night (the kitchen closes at 1:30 a.m.). No matter what time you stop by, Lone Star hits the spot.
Lone Star Taco Bar, 479 Cambridge St., Allston, is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.; phone: 617-782-8226. Take the 57 bus towards Brighton and get off at Brighton Avenue at Craftsman Street. Lone Star accepts all major credit cards except Discover; it does not accept reservations. Takeout is available until 1:30 a.m. Find more information here.
This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.