The TA Restaurant is another one of those places that's been part of the local community ever since I can remember. Its name in full is Tabacaria Acoreana, which translates to Azorean Tobacco Shop, but I am not familiar with connection of the name to the restaurant.
We dined at the TA on Halloween night. Nothing scary about that. The TA has a traditonal menu with the usual favorites. We had some calamari. Normally, I associate calamari (lulas in Portuguese) with Italian food, but Portuguese restaurants often prepare calamari quite well. At the TA, the portion of the calamari appetizer was enormous and was too much for two people and stole a bit of our appetite. It was good, though. We did wish that they offered a more "Portuguese-type" sauce with it and not a mayonnaise-based dip which seems rather unusual to me. A vinagrette or something spicy would have been more interesting, and more authentic.
Espetada de Carne à TA (Shish-kabob)
Afterward, I had the mixed grill shish kabob of sirloin, chouriço (Portugese spicy pork sausage), onions and peppers. If you burn it, I'll probably like. This was really good. I like to mix the charred meat with the rice and spread the flavor.
As I mentioned, it was Halloween and there just had to be something off -it was the fries. My take on Portuguese food is that for all it's simplicity and humility, there is a feeling of pride that is strong, like the people are, like the culture is. Frozen french fried potatoes? That was tremendously disappointing. To me, the potato is as important an ingredient as the fish or the garlic or the chourico in many Portuguese meals. Would a Mexican restaurant use Sunbeam tortillas? The fries should always be hand-cut from fresh potatoes. Sure, my mom would sometimes use fries out of a bag, but I felt the same disappointment then as I feel now. Let's agree to leave pre-frozen, pre-fried, or whatever, fries to the chain restaurants.
Iscas com Elas Açoreana
I've returned to TA a number of times for lunch. On one occassion I had the liver which was really good. for me, the key is the cut the liver into really small slices. I've had large "steaks" of liver at fancier restaurants but the liver always turns out too dry and a bit tough. I recommend the Portuguese version where the thinly sliced liver is sautéd in garlic, wine and paprika (sometimes with onions and a little bit of lemon or lemon juice). The liver remains tender and is small enough to be covered in its sauce, so you never sense that it's dry. Traditionally, liver is served with boiled potatoes, but sometimes with proverbial french fries and rice.
408 South Main Street
Fall River MA 02721-5323