Ahh....3rd Street at Bryant just past the overpass, not exactly known as a destination for food, though only a block further sits the estimable HRD, a now hole in the wall hotspot for hipster techies on their lunch breaks. But if the line their gets you down, fear not, there is now a new place just opened at 475 3rd Street that can fulfill your quick cheap eats for lunch and possibly give HRD a little run for their money. Called Garaje (they have no website yet, though it's sure to come) it's a taqueria-ish place that also serves burgers and vegetarian options in addition to all sorts of beer and wine on tap. Working a few blocks over myself, I passed this place on the way home from work one night and they were open for dinner so I decided to drop in and give it a try.
With it's red exterior it's a hard building to miss, but that's probably the point. In this small stretch of businesses you need to do something to stand out and firstly you have to get folks to see you. Once inside it's a large space that's sort of like a bar with vintage garage, car and gas station imagery around the place. There are also several televisions showing sports, which seems to be a new trend in drop in eateries. My one suggestion though would be to turn the lights up just a bit, it's still a place to eat after all and not completely a bar. Now that I'm in, it's time to see if the food will get me to stay and come back. After perusing the menu and chatting with the guy at the order bar (who was very helpful in explaining stuff if you are not sure what to order) I decided to get the mordaditas (this is how it's spelled on the menu) and a pork zapatos.
Mordiditas (traditional spelling) is kind of a slang for small bites, here it's crispy little rolled beef taquitos with fundido sauce, shredded cheese and pico de gallo. (it also comes with guacamole but not being a fan I opted out) This was great. Fresh out of the fryer the taquitos were hot and crispy and who doesn't love a good cheese sauce that then has shredded cheese on top! It cheese and more cheese! Add in the pico which was bright and fresh and I could just eat this all day. This definitely needs to become everyone's favorite dish and at $7 a pop it's a bargain, there is a lot of food here so don't be misled by the photo. It is a cheesy guilty pleasure and hey the tomatoes count as a serving of vegetables. I'm telling everyone to try it. Hopefully they will have a chicken taquito version of this soon.
The zapatos (which I think actually means shoe in Spanish) is a burrito take on a Cuban sandwich. Your choice of meat with jack cheese, refried beans and mild salsa in a tortilla that is crisped up on a sandwich press. (Again, this comes with guacamole that I passed on) I liked the idea of this more so than the actual execution of it. The pork was almost at that overcooked point, which can sometimes happen with carnitas since you are deep frying it after it's cooked. There was a nice crunch to the tortillas but the inside was more of a one note mush texture. It tasted okay but I wasn't blown away by any flavors, it was all pretty basic. I don't think the guac would have made that much difference. For me it really could have benefited from more crunch, like lettuce or even some sweet tang from a side of pico de gallo (which I probably should have asked for). I had to add a little hot sauce to it to give some kind of flavor kick. Other meat choices include steak, chicken and fish, which I would be interested in trying.
Right now I'd say get by there and try them out before lunch lines become too bothersome. They just started opening on Saturdays so that might be a could time also. I'm happy to have a new spot to drop in at and snack in the neighborhood and the mordaditas is my new favorite dish. Please stop by cuz' I'd like them to do well enough to stick around so I can try everything on their menu.