Friday, June 14, 2013

Baxter's Bar

The Best Taco in Akron!
by J Hudson

I’ve been searching for a great taco in Akron for years. I’ve tried the taco carts and traditional taquerias around town and like their tacos but don’t love their tacos, but I’ve finally found a taco I love. Actually, I found four of them and they are all at Baxter’s Bar at Main Street in the heart of Akron.

Photo's courtesy of Baxter's Bar's Facebook page
Baxter’s opened about a year ago and is primarily a bar with 200 bottled beers and 20 drafts, but its small kitchen puts out a variety of flavorful food. Baxter’s chef, Michael Foster, is a journeyman with experience as a sous chef at a number of fine dining restaurants in Northeast Ohio, including Moe’s and One Red Door.
Foster says he, “wanted to make a great taco but create something that was unique but also that appealed to the masses.” He’s done it. Baxter’s tacos are made authentic style with double blanco corn tortillas but their insides are non-traditional takes on old-style moles, salsas and sauces.

My favorite of the four, and probably the most unusual, is the root-beer braised beef with pickled shallots, New Mexican chili sauce, cilantro and locally sourced Lucky Penny Creamery feta cheese. New Mexico Chiles are reddish brown dried Anaheim chili with a hotness of about 2-4 on a scale of 1-10. Foster says, “he first tried the dried New Mexican chili on a trip to that state and liked its flavor and wanted to use it in his cooking.” This taco is full of flavor but you don’t really taste a too sweet root beer so much as the spice of the chili and tart of the feta. You also feel the creaminess of the soft cheese.

The Makers Mark bourbon apple BBQ pulled pork with pickled green bean slaw is less traditional. It tastes like a good BBQ pulled pork sandwich on a taco shell, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s sweet and tart and so packed with meat that you’ll need a fork to gather up what falls onto your plate.

The Mexican BBQ braised chicken taco with fresh pico de gallo and lime crème fraiche flavor combo tastes more like a traditional taco, so if that’s what you’re into, I’d recommend it. If you’re a piscitarian, the cumin chili spiced shrimp with roasted tomatillo salsa verde, and cilantro cabbage slaw will also give you a traditional taco taste.

If you are a vegetarian, try Baxter’s salads. They come in full or half orders. My half order beet salad was the size of most restaurants’ full salad. It was $5 and was a bowl full of fresh, mixed lettuce, golden beets, slivered almonds and White French dressing. I’ve also had Baxter’s Nuts. These nuts come directly from the Peanut Shoppe next door and are the freshest nuts around. They are topped with cracked sea salt, cayenne, brown sugar, and rosemary, and are only $ 1.79.

On Tuesday tacos are $2 apiece. The rest of the week they are around $3 a piece if you order sets of three, and you can mix and match taco types. Another great thing about Baxter’s Bar is that the kitchen is open to Midnight. If you get to Baxter’s and order by 11:30 pm, you can fit in that elusive “fourth meal” of the day with real tacos instead of mystery meat concoctions from a chain.

Baxter’s Bar
205 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44305
Directly across from Lock 3. Between the Lockview and the Peanut Shoppe.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-midnight, Friday 11am-2:30am, Saturday 12pm-2:30am, Sunday 12pm-9pm

J Hudson ran the Hudson Farmer's Market for three years. He's the co-founder of Crafty Mart and founder of Sausage Fest LLC, a company that seeks to promote the United States’ rich and diverse culinary heritage as exemplified by regional, ethnic, and craft sausage makers throughout our land.

Check out J's previous contributions to Akron Empire:
The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery
The Fourth Annual Crafty Mart
Hudson Artist Justin Crowe Sets Out to Meme the World

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