Last weekend, I found paradise at a boat yard in Jamestown, Rhode Island. At Dutch Harbor, a strip of parking lot that extends to the water on the western face of this island, the folks behind Newport's well-heeled Tallulah on Thames restaurant are slinging tacos and other traditional Mexican street eats—the stuff that chef Jake Rojas grew up eating.
Rojas and his crew have been serving tacos for lunch a few days a week at the restaurant and from carts parked at several local farmer's markets, but they took over the Dutch Harbor shack just a few weeks ago. No surprise, they're doing brisk business. The combination of high-quality, locally sourced proteins, fresh corn tortillas, and flawless execution is hard to beat. So is the view—a stunning panorama of the Rhode Island landscape. Both make up for the relatively high food prices ($3.75 to $6.50 per taco, depending on the protein).
Pork, in the form of wispy carnitas, might be my top filling choice, with the super fresh sautéed shrimp a close second. Get the lobster if you wanna splurge; it's as indulgent to eat as it is to pay for. The fixin's—guac, onion, cilantro, salsa, and pickled thin-sliced radish—are spot on.
But the surprise find is the Mexican Shrimp Cocktail ($10). I didn't order this at first; shrimp cocktail never seems worth the money or my appetite. But Rojas' description of the dish reeled me in: a glass of fresh shrimp with tomato broth, avocado, tomato, salsa, onion, cilantro, and a couple crispy tostadas. When it arrived, it looked—and ate—more like a hearty shrimp gazpacho, the shellfish and other elements floating in the bright, well seasoned tomato liquid. It was refreshing and full flavored, and every element—from the plump, perfectly cooked shrimp to the firm but creamy avocados—was at its best.
Just in case you're not convinced yet, there's homemade lemonade and agua frescas to drink ($3), as well as horchata panna cotta ($4) and a small selection Susanna's Ice Cream for dessert ($4). Go now and go often—with a book and a beach towel, it's a perfect place to spend an afternoon*—before the shack season ends in mid October.
*They actually open for breakfast, too, and rumor has it the breakfast tacos are worth getting up for.
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Senior Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.