Orale Tacos offers authentic Mexican cuisine on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden

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HAMDEN — You can be excused if you might not have noticed Orale Tacos opening a few months ago on a busy stretch of Dixwell Avenue, in a storefront that was once a Japanese fast-food hibachi restaurant.

Orale opened at 1370 Dixwell (corner of Lexington Street) in the midst of a pandemic.

Fans of authentic Mexican food might want to stop by next time.

The menu includes spicy pork Tacos al Pastorwell topped with pineapple, some enchiladas in mole (spicy chocolate based) or verde (tomatillo) sauce and a nice cold drink Agua de Horchata (spicy rice) or Jamaica (hibiscus).

Authentic Mexican food comes from a place co-owned by a Guatemalan man and his Ecuadorian brother-in-law Jackson Heights, raised Queen, who runs the place with his wife, who is Colombian and Chilean – but was born in Greece and raised in Spain.

Why a Mexican restaurant?

“I’ve been working in Mexican restaurants for about 10 years – I really know the flavor of a certain dish,” said Juan Vicuña, 29, a native of Ecuador and owner of Orale Tacos with his native brother-in-law. Guatemalan. right, Edy Osorio.

Plus, “everyone loves Mexican food,” Vicuña said.

Orale is also very intimate with Vicuña and his wife, Priscila Salasar – whom he met when she worked at a Peruvian restaurant in Bayside, Queens – both working in the kitchen with a third cook, originally from Guatemala – and their son , Yireh, 5, sat at the cash register for a few days, playing video games on his mother’s smartphone.

He stays home other days when his grandmother comes to visit, Vicuña said.

Why open in Hamden?

“My sister lives here,” said Vicuña, who lived in Queens, where he last worked as a bartender, before coming to Connecticut during the pandemic. Her brother-in-law also lives in Hamden but runs a restaurant of the same name – Orale Tacos – in Astoria, Queens.

Plus, “Since moving to Connecticut, I haven’t seen a Latin place around here,” he said.

After being out of work for a few weeks at the start of the pandemic, Vicuña said he realized that commercial rents weren’t as high in Hamden as in New York.

“We opened this place seven months ago,” he said.

So far, Orale – the name is Mexican/Chicano slang for “hell yeah!”, “straight up!” or “everything is fine!” — attracted mostly Hispanics, although “we have whites, blacks, Asians,” Vicuña said.

Most Hispanics tend to eat in while, during the pandemic, many more have ordered takeout – probably a good thing so far, as there are only seven tables inside . Last week, Vicuña and an assistant did some carpentry and painting for an outdoor dining area with four tables out front that Orale will use once it gets warm enough.

Vicuña said her favorite dish is tacos al pastor, and “we’ve had a lot of people say they were recommended and told to order al pastor.”

Although not on the current menu, spicy pork for tacos al pastor can also be ordered in enchiladas and burritos, he said.

What he loves about Orale Tacos food is that “first and foremost, it’s fresh. Our dishes, our preparations” are all prepared fresh every two or three days rather than thawed from something frozen, he said.

With the sole exception of seafood, “I don’t freeze anything,” Vicuña said.

As of now, Orale Tacos hasn’t started serving margaritas or Mexican beer — though if the menu is any indication, you can probably expect to see them at some point.

“Right now we’re trying to focus on food,” he said. “Drinks can come later.”

Vicuña said “it’s probably important for (people) to know that whatever’s on the menu, I prepare it as if I were doing it myself”.

So far, customers — who currently rate Orale Tacos four and a half stars on Yelp — seem to agree with him.

“OMG! Authentic and Delicious Mexican Food in Hamden!!” Madison’s Adrienne D. wrote in Orale’s latest Yelp review, “This is a dangerous discovery. We had tacos and burritos and everything exceeded our expectations. I can’t wait to try the rest of the menu! So good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Hamden’s MD was even more expansive.

“This is one of the best Mexican dishes I’ve had in the area!” he or she wrote. “Since it opened, we have ordered here at least once or twice a week. The fish tacos, mole or green chili enchiladas, chorizo ​​tacos, and spinach empanadas were my favorites.

“Hibiscus juice is also great,” MD wrote. “The owners are super nice and the service is excellent. I tell all my friends about this place!”

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