Pick something new to try

Published 10:26 pm Saturday, July 19, 2014

A recent column on this page discussed the commercial revival taking place near the intersection of Washington and Main streets in downtown Suffolk. But there was a glaring omission among the businesses that were listed, and folks who know me (or look very closely at my photo to the right) will understand why I considered it something of a travesty that we’d overlooked this new business.

Among the companies that have made new homes on West Washington Street during the past year or so is one of my new favorite Suffolk haunts: East Coast Taco Co. I was crestfallen when owner José Moncado called to point out that his restaurant had been left off the list of businesses turning this little part of Suffolk into a destination.

Mexican food has been a staple for me ever since Annette — who wasn’t even my girlfriend, much less my wife, at the time — gave me venison tamales to sample. Her recipe, learned from the Mexican side of her family, gave me an entirely new appreciation for an ethnic food that I’d only ever connected to hard taco shells out of a box from the supermarket or the occasional chain-restaurant fajita plate.

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José makes tacos the California way, the way my wife does, and it’s high praise to him for me to note that East Coast Taco has become one of Annette’s favorite restaurants in our fair city.

There was a time when the closest thing to ethnic food in Suffolk was a Greek hamburger plate at the old George and Steve’s Restaurant on Route 17. (For you newcomers, it was something of a landmark, located where the Walgreens is today.)

Things have changed, though, and there’s hardly better news for a gastronome like me.

Today, serious foodies looking for a taste of the exotic can find a great selection of Mexican restaurants, a fine Indian eatery with a delectable buffet, any number of Chinese restaurants with quick delivery, Italian restaurants ranging from pizza palaces on up, succulent soul food diners, tasty Thai food and quite possibly the largest number of sushi restaurants per capita in all of Hampton Roads.

If I hadn’t just wolfed down a couple of homemade tamales at my desk, the list itself would be enough to make me hungry.

Here’s a tip: Pick something new to try. Be a little adventurous. You don’t have to travel far to do so anymore, and your taste buds will thank you for making the trip.