Tiny Tacos at Boston’s Bonfire

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Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Last week, my dear friend The Cocktail Queen suggested we meet at Bonfire, a contemporary steakhouse with a Latin American twist in the heart of Boston. It had been ages since we caught up, so I was totally game. Bonfire is one of Todd English’s restaurants, and I’d been wanting to try it. Here’s a peek around the restaurant and a look at what we ate.

This isn’t a comprehensive restaurant review by far since I’ve only eaten there once, but…I would certainly go back based on the experience. The food was great and the service was excellent.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse


So as in most big cities, you can lose your shirt eating out in Boston. It takes practice and skill to know how to eat well at the city’s best restaurants—without breaking the bank each time. If I’m unsure about a new place, or just want to test drive the food without committing to a whole meal, I usually have a nibble or two at the bar first.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The bar at Bonfire

Now, The Cocktail Queen is a dear old friend of mine, and knows exactly how to talk me into things quickly: “Bonfire has delicious drinks and really good, cheap, tiny tacos.”

“Delicious drinks! Wait, and…tiny tacos?”

“Tiny. Tacos.”

“Oh! Well then. I’m in.” I’m a sucker for any kind of mini food. How could I resist?

Location, location, location

Let me back up for a sec and set the scene for all you non-Boston folks. Bonfire is located in the historic Boston Park Plaza Hotel down on Arlington Street.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The Boston Park Plaza Hotel

If you’ve never been inside the Plaza before, it’s worth a stroll through. It was built in the late 1920s, and is just grand and gorgeous like most of the big hotels from that period.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The lobby of The Boston Park Plaza Hotel

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The lobby of The Boston Park Plaza Hotel

The Plaza Hotel is just a few blocks away from the Public Garden, on the edge of Boston’s Back Bay—one of our city’s swankier neighborhoods. (The area is just stuffed to the gills with condos, cobblestones, designer boutiques, and high-end hotels.)

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Boston’s Public Garden, along Boylston Street

Here’s the view up Boylston Street from the corner of Arlington Street. The tall, blue building in the background is the John Hancock Tower, built by I.M. Pei. I worked on the 42nd floor for about a year. (The views were a-ma-zing.)

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Via Matta, which serves Italian food and has a really pretty outdoor dining area, is right across the street from the Plaza.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

I entered Bonfire from the street.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

But there’s also an entrance inside the hotel.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The atmosphere (a.k.a. a peek inside Boston’s Bonfire)

So what’s the vibe? Bonfire is dark and inviting, with lots and lots of dark wood and stone that’s softened by richly upholstered chairs, velvety curtains, and warm, glowing lights. The crowd is 30-something-ish, stylish, and relatively well behaved.

One of the first things you see when you enter the restaurant is the stately, slate-floored wine room, Bonfire’s private dining room.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The room seats up to 22, and has a handful of prix-fixe menus.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Inside the main restaurant, the dining area is to the left.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Even before dark, the dining room is cozy and inviting. But then, we weren’t there for dinner.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The Cocktail Queen and I made a beeline for the long, curved bar to the right.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

There’s a ton of seating at the bar and in the bar area. We were there after work, so I’m not sure how busy the place gets later on in the evening.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

There’s a long, open kitchen behind the bar, so you can watch your food sizzle away as you sip one of the place’s signature, juicy cocktails.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The cocktails at Boston’s Bonfire

The Cocktail Queen, in typical fashion, ordered what I have to believe (admittedly based on almost no experience) has to be the best drink on the menu: An Authentic Bonfire Margarita.

Their take on the drink is a mouthwatering concoction of tequila, Grand Marnier, and lime juice topped with a splash of champagne. It was fresh and juicy, and I took the biggest sip I could politely pull off when I was offered a taste.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

I was in the mood for a glass or two of red wine, and ordered a really good Cabernet-Tempranillo.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Tiny, tiny tacos

So what’s on the menu?

Like I said, this is a steakhouse with a Latin American flavor. Twenty-four ounce Porterhouse steaks share menu space with the likes of paella and appetizer portions of beef empanadas.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

But that’s not why we were there. We were there for the tacos.

Which brings me to the Taqueria menu available at the bar from 5-7 pm. Four tacos are $12, and were more than enough for a small dinner.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Bar menu at Bonfire

The Cocktail Queen and I each ordered a plate of four tacos. The soft tacos were shot through with a skewer to keep them upright, and arrived on a bed of lightly dressed greens.

I had (pictured below from left to right): The smoked pork taco (by far my favorite), the smoked beef tongue (very beefy and surprisingly tender), the skirt steak taco (pink in the middle and also sliced to be very tender), and the brown butter braised lobster taco.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

The Cocktail Queen had a crispy fish taco, a spicy tuna tartare taco, a smoked pork taco, and a chicken taquito.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

Boston’s Bonfire: The Hungry Mouse’s Verdict

I liked Bonfire a lot—at least at this hour. I highly recommend heading over to the bar and nibbling your way through a personalized tasting menu of tiny tacos.

Who knows. We may even go back for dinner sometime.

All’s well that end’s well

Oh, and you never know what you’re going to see in Boston, especially at a place like The Plaza, which is a curious intersection for tourists, business people, locals, and—this evening at least—teenagers.

As The Cocktail Queen and I were saying our goodbyes, a flock of prom-goers swept past us, on their way to their party at the hotel. We stood and watched the kids parade by in their fancy dresses, rented tuxes, and corsages.

It was a perfect—and perfectly strange—way to end a lovely evening.

Tiny Tacos at Boston's Bonfire at The Hungry Mouse

 

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Okay so I just showed those delicious tiny tacos to Hurley because he’s the Taco King here. He knows his tacos lol he just said to me “I’d like that!”

    I’m going to keep Bonfire in mind in case we go back to Boston.

  2. Bonfire is such an amazing place with such character! I love the menu too, the food looks fantastic! I know where I’m eating if I visit Boston!

  3. Thanks for all the info! I’ve never been to Bonfire… but now I think I’m getting a tiny taco craving. I may have to check it out very soon!

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