With over 50 restaurants from every corner of the world, Somerville knows international cuisine.
But the town world has expanded once again with an all-vegetarian Mexican and Indian blend.
Tacowala, located in the former home of Don’s Famous Hoagie Shoppe at 133. E Main St. It opened on 2nd April with a menu highlighting vegetarian and vegan street.
Amish Shah, a vegetarian born in India, opened the restaurant after starting it as a catering company in March 2021. Prior to that, he worked part-time as a private vegetarian chef.
“In Mexico, they use a lot of lard for cooking, so it’s hard for vegetarians,” Shah said. “And there are a lot of similarities in the ingredients in Mexico and India because of the historical trade.”
These ingredients include chili, tamarind, and other strong spices and flavors. Rice and beans are a staple in many dishes. Sauce and sauce are similar, as are tortillas and roti, mole and curry.
Both cultures are reflected in Tacowala’s design. A mural with a Mexican mariachi band on one side and an Indian band on one of the other walls. Mural with Mexican and Indian flowers attached to each other by arches.
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“Both countries are very lively and colorful, so I wanted the murals to show,” Shah said.
About 40 seats are available in the casual restaurant, which Shah bought in August when he realized he would need his own kitchen to ensure meat and vegetarian things were not contaminated for his catering business.
At the time, he had planned to continue operating Don’s Famous Hoagie Shoppe in the space, which had been open since 1972 but had been sold by the founder.
Just a month later, Hurricane Ida struck, leaving Shah with months of repairs and cleaning up — and time to reconsider.
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I thought, ‘Why not do a storefront? Shah said. “We had good followers on Instagram, and people appreciated our food, which is gluten and nut free cuisine. So I thought, “Let me start retail and see how it goes.” And in my research, I couldn’t find any other New Jersey tacos that are vegetarian and vegan.”
he goes: 133 E. Main Street, Somerville; 908-300-8690, tacowala.com
Gina Intersimon has been an employee of the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, having become a blogger and turned reporter after creating her own award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please sign up or activate your digital account today. Contact: [email protected] or Tweet embed