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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cilantro Taqueria Takes Over Former Chipotle Spot on Coventry

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 12:34 PM

click to enlarge CILANTRO TAQUERIA
  • Cilantro Taqueria
On January 11, Raul Carrillo opened Cilantro Taqueria (2783 Euclid Hts. Blvd., 216-331-3069) in the former home of a Chipotle restaurant that closed after about eight years. The replacement is a windfall for fans of authentic Mexican and Cal-Mex food like tacos, tortas, burritos and bowls.

“I come from in Santa Ana, Mexico and we moved to Salinas, California and saw how the taquerias there are,” Carrillo explains. “I wanted to bring the food to this place.”

Carrillo had been living in Shaker and working at restaurants like Los Habaneros before looking to do his own thing. He said he stumbled on the Chipotle spot on Coventry and could not believe his good fortune. The setup, obviously, made the transition pretty seamless.

click to enlarge CILANTRO TAQUERIA
  • Cilantro Taqueria
It’s rare to find real tacos al pastor in these parts, slabs of achiote and pineapple marinated pork layered onto a vertical spit, or trompo, that cooks as it twirls. In Salinas and elsewhere in California, the items often go by the name tacos de adobada.

“It’s very popular,” he adds.

If you’ve been to a Chiptole, then you already know the drill. Guests queue up in a line that moves past a steam table filled with cooked meats, vegetables, rice, beans and salsa. Tortillas, both corn and flour, are heated in a warmer before being custom stuffed with ingredients. I've spotted various tacos served atop single and double corn shells for no apparent reason. Meat options include chorizo, carnitas, barbacoa, grilled steak, braised tongue and al pastor. Tacos are $2.50 apiece.

Those items also can be stacked into a burrito, torta bun, rice bowl or “gringa,” a burrito with a toasted cheese base. These items cost $8.99. For just $3.50 diners get a lunch-sized brown bag full of thin chips and either salsa, guacamole or warm queso.

click to enlarge CILANTRO TAQUERIA
  • Cilantro Taqueria
A salsa station offers great takes on salsa verde, tomato salsa and salsa roja, which is presented in a large molcajete along with roasted peppers and chiles.

Come warm weather, Carrillo says that he plans to roll a taco cart out onto the Coventry mall plaza to serve up tacos alfresco.

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