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Starters: Shrimp, pork belly highlight TCB's tacos

How do you draw customers to your taco restaurant when it opens near current Transit Road taco-slingers La Tolteca, Deep South Taco, La Davina Dos and Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill?

For TCB, it's a calculated equation: serve scratch-made, no-frills Mexican dishes and some good drinks. The people, hopefully, will come.

On a recent lunch visit, two of the three elements, tacos and diners, had showed up at TCB, which stands for “tacos, community and beer." A liquor license is pending, but manager Jeff Smith says plans are in place for some fun house-made cocktails, a half-dozen brews on draft and a growing list of domestics and imports, including local labels.

There are traditional tacos ($3-$4), all served in two corn tortillas with cotija cheese with choices of ground beef, steak, chicken, pulled pork, chorizo sausage, beef brisket, pork belly or sautéed peppers and onion.

Tacos, Community and Beer, or TCB, opened January 30 on Transit Road in Clarence. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to The News)

Seven “gourmet” tacos ($5.95) include seared ahi tuna with wasabi aioli and pineapple mango salsa ($5.95), rib eye Caprese with steak, Roma tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and balsamic glace ($5.95) and tempura-battered tofu served with ponzu sauce ($3).

With my young son in tow, my friend and I stopped in for a quick lunch and were pleased to find foldable high chairs (although no kids menu) and an open four-person table behind the long walls of counter dining at the front.

The bar is yet to open, but diners are busy sampling TCB's Mexican fare. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to The News)

We ordered at the bar, then waited a few minutes until our number was called at the counter of the small open kitchen, flanked in front by a self-service condiment bar sporting everything from sliced jalapenos and pickled red onions to cilantro and three heat levels of salsa.

Our trio of traditional shredded beef brisket, pork belly and steak tacos were tasty, especially the tender, juicy belly, the best of the three. Nothing was unduly greasy or over-salted, and warm corn tortillas were fragrant and pliable. The medium salsa had a smoky tomato base, while the green hot sauce had a welcome bite that cut the rich meat.

From the gourmet list, a honey garlic shrimp taco, a customer favorite according to the cashier, was lightly sautéed and not overly sweet, with a chunky pineapple mango salsa that tasted bright and freshly prepared.

Chicken tortilla soup, a side of rice and hot salsa verde accompany a trio of steak, pork belly and beef brisket tacos. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to The News)

Entrees at TCB include rice and salad bowls, cheese quesadillas and loaded nachos (all $5.95), filled with your choice of chicken, ground beef, barbacoa (beef brisket), pulled pork or steak.

Sides ($1.95-$3.95) include rice, black beans, chips with salsa, guacamole, or plain or chorizo queso. The week we visited, the homemade soup ($2.95-$3.95) was a delicious chicken black bean tortilla.

The shrimp pineapple taco at TCB. (Lauren Newkirk Maynard/Special to The News)

Plain rice and a few slurps of the soup broth kept my son happy, as we all were with TCB’s fresh, unpretentious simplicity. When the promised house-made margaritas come, it should be all the more welcoming.

INFO: Tacos, Community & Beer, 6449 Transit Road, Clarence. Phone: 458-0380. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 a.m. Friday, Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.

*Read another Starters, on Family Thai:

Starters: Egg curry, yum beef salad at Family Thai

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