Most of the time, we choose restaurants based on the food.
Sometimes, though, we choose to visit a place out of curiosity – and because we want to support it and see it succeed. And because of the food.
Such is the case with Consuela’s. In November, funeral director and neighborhood booster Jan Maloff opened a taqueria and barbecue restaurant on the Near West Side of Syracuse. It is his hope, he has said, that it become a gathering place for residents and families in a traditionally underserved part of Syracuse, many of who don’t have cars.
I visited Consuela’s for lunch recently and hope you’ll check it out, too.
THE VIBE: Casual, comfortable and colorful. The dining room has about 8 tables, mostly for parties of four or six. The walls are bright green, the tables and chairs bright red and purple. Eclectic artisan accents add to the vibrancy.
THE MENU: Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican items, like tacos, burritos, empanadas and quesadillas, plus barbecue, with most items priced $6 to $8. Fried haddock is available Fridays only.
CHOWING DOWN: On seeing the house-made taco bowls that hold hearty main-dish salads, I knew what I would be having. Items are prepared taqueria style at the counter and options are abundant. Besides shredded barbecue chicken, my salad bowl contained rice and black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, diced pepper and onions, sliced jalapenos and olives, plus salsa, sour cream and guacamole -- and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
Can you say filling? I made a good dent in the bowl, but couldn’t finish it.
WHAT’S A VEGETARIAN GOING TO FIND? Items like the tacos, burritos and salad bowls are available vegetarian, with beans (black or pinto) and rice, plus your choice of veggies and condiments.
LIQUID ASSETS: Consuela’s does not have a liquor license; you can bring your own wine and beer. For now, the drink selections are limited to bottled water, Goya fruit juices and sodas and coffee.
THE NEXT TIME: I’m bringing a dining mate, for sure, so we can sample several things off the menu, like fish tacos and empanadas. Or empanadas and a quesadilla. Definitely empanadas!
CLOSING THOUGHTS: I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the staff, who not only made my chicken taco bowl salad precisely to order, but checked in several times to make sure I was pleased with my food. I was!
THE DETAILS: Consuela’s is at 523 Marcellus St., Syracuse, two blocks off West Fayette Street. Information: 474-8226. WiFi is available.