Mi Pueblo Taqueria 12207 Lorain Ave., 216-671-6661.
One of the gustatory highlights of this past year was a simple lunch at the original Mi Pueblo outpost on Lorain Avenue. (The owners also have more gentrified locations near University Circle and in Hudson.) The meal? Tacos de papa, three crunchy, deep-fried, potato-stuffed tacos, garnished with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and queso fresco, and served on a platter with mahogany-colored refried beans and delicate Spanish rice. To drink? Sweet orchata (rice water). And for dessert? Trembling eggnog flan. While we ate, we took in the atmosphere, too: lively, handsome, and casual, with a mostly Spanish-speaking clientele that made the place feel more like a Tucson taqueria than a Cleveland eatery. If, like us, you find that authenticity is the spice of life, a visit here is nothing short of zesty.