HARRISON, N.Y. -- Luis Aguilera cares about Harrison. So much so that when he came up with the idea of opening a healthy, authentic Mexican taqueria, he decided to stay in his own neighborhood.
"This place can be a bit of a ghost town after 5 p.m.," said the Harrison resident. "It's not like other towns where you see people walking around, window shopping and going in and out of bars and restaurants. And so, I'm hoping this is the start of something."
He said it's coincidental that Two-Seventy-Three Kitchen, a Mediterranean cusinine and wine bar opened down the street around the same time. "I think it helps create a nice vibe and feel," he said of the two recent additions.
Halstead Ave Taqueria , officially opened as of April 6, is all about tacos, fresh-squeezed juices and aguas frescas (traditional Mexican beverages). "It's more of a fast casual, kind of place where everything is made to order," he explained.
Food can be customized so if someone is vegetarian or gluten-free or doesn't like cilantro or another ingredient, can easily be accommodated.
Aguilera prides himself on the eatery's freshness as well as its "green" initiatives. Everything is stored in glass: There are no plastic bags and drinks are served in mason jars which customers can bring back for a 50 cent discount.
The bright, cheery eatery, has 12 seats and so far is attracting a lot of area office workers.
Aguilera is not a chef but he's worked in the restaurant industry for years, mostly in Manhattan, and mostly in nighlife, and said he believes he has a good taste for food and a good eye for food, meaning presentation is just as important as quality and taste.
"If something is burnt or doesn't come out right, I tell my staff not to let it leave the kitchen. I'd rather something take longer and be perfect than have something come out fast and not be good," he said.
Among the salads, enchiladas and tacos offered, customers will also find housemade flavored iced teas using seasonal fruits and traditional Mexican drinks such as horchata (rice water, condensed milk, vanilla) and tamarindo (tamarind fruit, cane sugar, lime juice and water).
There are also fresh-pressed juices such as "Mucho Macho," carrots, pineapple, apple, lime and chili powder and a full breakfast menu. Aguilera is also hoping to eventuallly serve beer and wine.
Halstead Ave Taqueria is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is located at 261 Halstead Ave., (914) 341-1283, www.taqueriahalstead.com/ .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.