In the Buffalo area, tacos are the new black. It’s not just Mighty Taco anymore. With everything from the artisanal Casa Azul and Lloyd Taco Factory, to Valle de Mexico and La Divina, almost every suburb has its share of Mexican outposts. Now thanks to Cantina 62, Lackawanna does, too.
The diner in the shadow of Our Lady of Victory basilica features a breakfast and lunch menu but don’t let labels guide your stomach; both go until 8 p.m. The largely Mexican-inspired offerings feature tacos, burritos, egg dishes, salads, sandwiches, appetizers and desserts. Free bottled water accompanied our order on a recent visit, although bottles and cans of pop and Mexican specialty sodas are also available.
Cantina 62 is currently testing a few new additions, but we stuck to standards for reliability. The sole exception was an order of chips and queso ($3.50) for a basket of crispy restaurant-style chips and a small cup of orange queso. The cheese dip was creamy, slightly smoky with a hint of heat. We guessed cheddar and Gouda were at play here, and the starter was more than enough to whet two appetites.
A three-taco special runs $7, with a $2 upcharge for specialty or fish tacos.
The lunch special (served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) also includes a drink. We shelled out an extra couple of bucks for beef on weck, Buffalo shrimp and Cantina Fresco tacos. If it’s not a Buffalo mandate to order BOW-esque entrees wherever they appear, it should be. The taco version came with two thin slices of succulent beef, horseradish slaw and sprinkled with caraway seeds. The advertised kimmelweck tortilla looked and tasted like normal flour to us.
That said, the effect was similar to the sammy with just enough horsey sauce for authenticity. The Buffalo Shrimp came with crispy fried shrimp, crunchy julienned carrots and celery in a Buffalo wing-like sauce. It wasn’t too spicy but the veggies provided a pleasing snap to each bite. We weren’t asked whether we preferred corn or flour tortillas, but corn is on the menu.
Finally, the Cantina Fresco taco came with pork, chicken, beef, beans or shrimp ($1 extra for fish). The pork was fork-tender, accompanied by shaved radishes, fresh tomato salsa, savory green chili sauce and a sprinkling of mild white Cotija cheese. The most pedestrian of the three, it satisfied our craving for a “traditional” taco.
On the breakfast side, the baked eggs ($4.50) came in a serving-sized bowl with rice and black beans, two eggs nestled on top and a side of warmed flour tortillas. Skip the tortillas for a gluten-free dish. For the price, we expected this to be the lighter option. Even after enjoying the runny-yolk egg mingling with the smoky chipotle beans and zesty cilantro rice, we had breakfast for the next day. Not bad for under a fiver!
Also on offer are the Mexican Breakfast ($8.50), which features a hearty pile of rice, beans, potatoes and onions, peppers, eggs, cheese and breakfast sausage. There’s also Huevos Rancheros ($7.50), a crispy tostada topped with fresh salsa, black beans, that same white cheese, sour cream, eggs and bacon. Both of these are great savory starts to your day. For extra oomph, try the no-name hot sauce for a fruity heat that sneaks up on you.
Our sweet tooth loved the Banana French Toast Bites ($4.75), a pile of sliced, warm banana french toast dusted with powdered sugar. Mexican chocolate and banana tres leches dipping sauces came warm and gooey, perfect for a nuclear sugar buzz. Banana Bread French Toast is also available as an entree for $7.50, for those with really stable blood sugar. Breakfast tacos and burritos are also available. Those feature chorizo, bacon, turkey sausage and beans, as well as eggs and potatoes, in varying combinations.
Everything at Cantina 62 is punched up a notch from the poor excuse for the genre found at Mighty or Taco Bell. It may not be La Divina or Lloyd, but the fare at Cantina 62 is well-sized, fresh and in any combination, deliciously executed.
2723 South Park Ave., Lackawanna (331-3601)
Open: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Try: Specialty tacos
Vegetarian: Yes, including bean tacos, Street Corn, many breakfast options.
Gluten-free: Yes, including baked eggs, salads and street corn.