10 signs that you have chose the right taquería for dinner on Cinco de Mayo

  1. The kitchen staff yells at each other in Spanish. And will take orders in Tejano Spanglish.
  2. They serve tacos made with things like spiced, stewed cow tongue or pork intestine...
  3. ...which go by their Spanish names on the menu, so as not to scare the gringos who are there for grilled chicken.
  4. There is no cheddar cheese anywhere in the restaurant. Nor does shredded iceberg lettuce come standard on anything.
  5. The pico de gallo is made fresh in the kitchen.
  6. The tortillas are made with real shortening.
  7. You have to ask for vegetarian beans if you don't want them cooked in lard, and vegetarian rice if you don't want it cooked in chicken stock.
  8. They have horchata, for the same price as soda.
  9. They will deep fry any food on the menu if you ask nicely.
  10. The tortilla chips are so greasy they soak through the paper bag.
I almost forgot about Cinco de Mayo this year. I don't really celebrate it, but it wasn't exactly easy to miss in Arizona. The ER staff hated the holiday with a passion. It was rather like a dress rehearsal for the Fourth of July, except all the drunks came in muttering about fireworks in Spanish.

I have been generally wary of trying "Mexican" food here in Boston, where everyone seems to think the word 'habanero' has an H sound in it. I finally ventured into Anna's Taquería, which has a location in Davis Square. It's pretty much like the genuine cheap taco joints in Arizona, where most of the staff hides in the kitchen and they send the one English-speaking legal citizen out front to take the orders when La Migra comes in for lunch. There's a bit less variety on the menu -- some of the ones nearer Mexico will also do things like shrimp ceviche tacos, tamales, and fresh empanadas, which require more and more complicated prep than tacos and burritos -- but it's more or less real Mexican street cart food.