Until recently, Cleveland’s best tacos were served from a little counter stuck deep in the way-back of a supermarket. It was a locals’ spot, in the sense that only locals could find it. No longer. The newly expanded La Plaza Taqueria is equal parts supermarket and taqueria, with an open-concept kitchen and seating for 60. Owned by Adrian Ortega, who started the stand to feed members of Cleveland’s growing Hispanic community, La Plaza has found success folded up in many, many warm tortillas.
“The majority of the people that have come, they say, ‘Wow, this is a different level of a taco,’ “ Ortega says. “And the location, they love it because it’s more spacious.”
La Plaza’s tacos are no-frills, served in paper trays where the freshness of the ingredients speaks for itself. Order two or three of your favorite protein or mix and match. There’s 10 authentic options to choose from ($3 each), including longtime faves such as carne asada (diced skirt steak) and al pastor (marinated pork), each garnished with onions, cilantro and your choice of any of eight house-made salsas. “If you don’t have the salsa, you don’t have the tacos,” says Ortega.
After a spate of successful vegan night experiments, diners voted on which tacos should go onto La Plaza’s menu full-time. In March, the taqueria announced the winners — spicy nopalitos (prickly pear) tacos and garlicky diced potato tacos. Plenty of other Mexican specialties are still available, including tamales ($8.50 for three) and tortas ($10), traditional deli sandwiches stuffed with refried beans.
When Ortega opened La Plaza in 2011, authentic Mexican restaurants were a rarity in Cleveland. Now countless eateries jostle for taco dominance. But with a bigger space, and those wildly good tacos, Ortega knows how to set La Plaza apart. “The difference between me and all those places [is that, here] it’s like you are in Mexico,” he says. “What I offer to you is authenticity.”
13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Cleveland, 216-476-8000, laplazataqueria.com