This might be the only time you'll hear me say this: Gas station food is tops.
My new favorite tacos are being served not at a fancy new restaurant but instead at a place where they pump petroleum in Parkland. It's called Los Bocados, which translates to "snacks," "a bite," or "mouth" in Spanish.
This past October, Boca Raton City Fish Market executive chef Anthony Hoff teamed up with longtime friend and local chef Robby Bushman to open the eatery, located inside a Chevron convenience store at the northwest corner of State Road 7 and Hillsboro Boulevard.
"Our number-one rule is for every bite to be the best. We were searching for the perfect way to say that in Spanish," said Bushman. "For us, it's all about getting every bit of flavor into every bite."
In 2013, Hoff and Bushman met at a local bar. The two chefs struck up a fast friendship and began working together when Bushman, enrolled in classes in Johnson & Wales University, decided to fulfill his internship at City Fish Market.
"I was on a path to incorporate more healthy eating, and Anthony knew my goal was to eventually open my own restaurant," said Bushman, who was later hired as sous chef for City Fish Market.
Bushman said he searched the area for several months, turning down commercial kitchens and standalone retail locations before finding the former Trio's Deli and Pizzeria space at 7191 N. SR-7. The commercial hood, order counter, and combined seating area were all selling points for the casual taco concept, and together the duo installed a gas line for new equipment to create the chef-driven Los Bocados menu.
Today, the chef duo works side by side to prepare a short list of gourmet-style, two-bite tacos served three at a time. From meats to sauces, it's all made to order and handcrafted by Hoff and Bushman with the exception of the four-inch masa tortillas outsourced to a local artisan.
That includes a fresh crema made with nothing but sour cream, heavy cream, lime juice, and cumin, adds Bushman. He feels it is one of the best — and also the most simple — add-ons to the menu. It's second only to the avocado relish, a combination of diced avocado and pico de gallo.
Every item on the menu is a collaboration between both chefs available for take-out, eat-in, local delivery, and catering. Options include build-your-own tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and salad or rice bowls. You can also choose from several signature chef taco selections.
Try the guajillo chicken tacos; slow-roasted for several hours with the duo's own Bocados adobo seasoning, the tiny flavor bombs arrive juicy and fragrant, piled atop a warm tortilla with salsa verde, fresh-shaved Monterey Jack cheese, spicy slaw, guajillo pepper glaze, a smoky aioli sauce, and that housemade crema.
The citrus pork tacos are made from whole boneless butt that's pressure-cooked until melt-in-your-mouth tender, then braised in homemade chicken stock. These are topped with pickled red onion, spicy slaw, guajillo glaze, fire-roasted salsa, and crema.
Don't leave without a taste of the Hongolitas, the chefs' own creation. It adheres to the "bocados" standard: a miniquesadilla made with roasted wild mushrooms, Monterey Jack cheese, pickled red onion, smoky aioli, and crema sandwiched between two masa tortillas.
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If you're especially hungry, order Hoff's accidental creation: the Bocado Bowl. As the story goes, a customer who couldn't decide what to order asked for tacos with a little bit of everything on the menu. The resulting dish is a heaping pile of just that — everything from carne asada, pork, and chicken to pickled onion, beans, and spicy slaw over a pile of rice, all smothered in the house spicy chipotle sauce, avocado relish, guajillo glaze, and crema.
No matter what you choose, everything is chef-approved, adds Hoff. "When we were developing the recipes we knew we wanted every bite to be perfect, so we like to think of every bite as chef approved."
Los Bocados. 7191 N. SR-7, Parkland; 954-637-4984; losbocados.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.