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BelAir Cantina

Wauwatosa WI

6817 north ave, wauwatosa WI 53213
website
414-988-8533
sun 10am-11pm, mon-thurs 11am-11pm, fri 11am-12am, sat 10am-12am

BelAir Cantina (Wauwatosa WI)

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Rating: 96
Price: $$$+

The To-Go

BelAir Cantina (Wauwatosa WI) has top-notch tacos, delicious guacamole, and is generous with the chips and salsa. Highly recommended!!

The Sit-Down

On the way to a Christmas-related flight out of Milwaukee, official business partner Erin & I decided to make our first-ever trip to Wauwatosa to meet up with trusted business associate Rachel (of Guanajuato fame) for some delicious ‘Tosa Tacos’ at BelAir Cantina. On the short walk over, she was hyping the guacamole heavily, so immediately upon arrival we added a bowl of guac to the free basket of chips & salsas brought over by our friendly server. The guacamole was exceptionally smooth, and the three salsa options (salsa verde, roasted salsa, spicy arbol) were all excellent, particularly the salsa verde, which was piquant and lightly spicy. I found that combining salsa verde with a bit of guacamole resulted in an excellent combination of richness, texture, and acidity. And these weren’t no crummy Bucky Badger tortillas chips, either – clearly house-made, lightly fried, excellent crunchy wedges, with lots of nooks and crannies for scooping.

While reviewing the menu, I was particularly pleased to see that several of the taco options kicked back funds to Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center. As an ecohydrologist who occasionally works in urban areas, the name alone was enough to convince me it was a worthwhile cause, and I selected one of the charity tacos (the Urban Surfer) out of my three total. First, though, I started off with the Pollo Verde at the recommendation of official BelAir tour guide Rachel. This taco was some extremely tender marinated chicken topped with a green salsa, cheese, onion, and cilantro. The pollo verde lived up to the hype as a truly excellent taco, one of the rare tacosmog.com journeys where a chicken taco (spoiler alert) took the top prize. In fact, the pollo verde was so excellently juicy that I deliberated positioned it over my rice and beans while eating, in order to let the overflow flavors absorb into a latter stage of my meal. With the caveat that this was my first taco of the meal, I was pleasantly surprised that the double corn tortillas held up to the onslaught of moist chicken admirably, though I do believe it would be only a matter of time before a soak-through and rupture would occur. Further inspired, later in the week Erin & I attempted to make our own pollo verde tacos in Missouri – while delicious, a brutally honest assessment would put BelAir head and shoulders above our effort.

The Urban Surfer, my taco in support of the Urban Ecology Center, had a whole jumble of flavors happening simultaneously: a maple barbecue glazed steak mixed with bacon bits, and it was topped with a mixture of jicama, carrot, chayote, and cilantro. I should be clear that I just read this off the menu, rather than decoding the taste sensation with my tongue alone, because the complexity was a bit overwhelming. In fact, eating the Urban Surfer, there was so much going on that I had to pause and wait after each bite to give my brain a bit of time to decode what was happening. Pausing between bites is mutually exclusive with my preferred style of eating (which is to wolf things down as fast as I possibly can), but the experts say it’s good for you, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

I finished things off with the Queso Asado taco, which I ordered as a third taco only because that bumped me up to “bonus 3-taco level”, which includes free rice & beans. In addition to being the cheapest taco on the menu ($2.39), the queso asado has the added bonus of being completely delicious – really, it was like a miniature quesadilla, as it was just a bunch of melted cheese with some beans in the mix. As an adopted Wisconsinite, my brain quickly pointed out “the more cheese the merrier” and gave this taco a sterling review. To jazz the flavor up a bit, I added some of the salsa verde from our chips & salsa stockpile, which I would recommend to all comers.

Overall, Belair Cantina is generous with the chips, has an excellent breadth of taco options, and makes them darn well. Highly recommended, and I am eager to visit their flagship Milwaukee location during the summery months to check out the riverfront patio!

Reviewed by tacosmog.com on