by Rick Winterson


   It was early Thursday evening, July 12.  Whether it was the oncoming weekend or the leftover crowds from the week of the Fourth of July was impossible to say.  Whatever the reason, the lines into the restaurants along the Waterfront, specifically those with Harbor views or rooftop pavilions, were impossibly long.  Many places were simply letting small groups in with no regard for who was with whom.  And no prediction of estimated wait-time was given to those at the end of the lines.

But inside TEMAZCAL (250 Northern Avenue, between the Fish Pier and the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion), a table became empty.  We were asked if seating along the Harbor Walk was OK.  We jumped at it, except that the bar area in TEMAZCAL was so impressive – even palatial in appearance – that we hesitated.  However, the outside seating ended up being our choice.  This had excellent views of the Harbor, augmented by the fact that Boston Harbor is also a busily working commercial Harbor, which really lends to its charm.  And the high reflectance exterior windows actually gave us nice views from two angles (Seriously!  See some of the photos).

We initially thought that the name “TEMAZCAL” might be an acronym for TExas, Mexico, AZtec, and CALifornia.  It isn’t.  A temazcal is brick steam bath of Mayan origin that gives the occupant an out-of-body, spiritual experience after intense sweating.  We settled instead for the up-close view of Boston Harbor.  TEMAZCAL has been open since 2011; it opened a sister establishment in Lynnfield in 2014, four years ago.

The Mainstream drink at TEMAZCAL is of course tequila – some 200 varieties that differ by taste and their infusions.  They are filtered to complete clarity as well, unlike many tequilas of generations ago.  There wasn’t even a stray cactus worm in the bottom of the bottles.  Several margaritas were ordered.  This writer, being an abstemious sort, drank ginger ale instead (Schweppes).

Our four main dishes we ordered were varied – the Swordfish Salguero was grilled and had an egg-based cream sauce on it; the Enciladas Chorizo (“Sho-REES-oh”) were crispy and meaty, and the classic Mole Poblano was a small, half-chicken, roasted as an Aztec dish with sesame and cacao (yes, chocolate or choclatl in the Aztec tongue).  The fourth dish was called Filet Alambre – skewered, bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin.  Outstanding!  A piece de resistance.  Small platters of roasted vegetables served as excellent side dishes.  Sharing tastes (and commentaries on same) back and forth made for a very pleasant experience, capped by a sunset over the Harbor at the end.  Try it yourself sometime.

There are perhaps a half-dozen distinct Mexican cuisines.  Many are quite spicy but not as peppery hot as the so-called Tex-Mex style of preparation.  TEMAZCAL’s offerings cover all of these half-dozen, and they offer some standard Mexican favorites as well, like various tacos and fajitas.  So long as the summer weather is pleasant, opt for a table outside, along Boston’s Harbor Walk.  Then have a drink in TEMAZCAL’s bar and enjoy its truly striking ambience

And a hint for your convenience:  Take a cab, or Uber, or go to TEMAZCAL on the Silver Line from South Station.  Board any Silver Line bus to Silver Line Way (the bus’s third stop from South Station), which is a block from TEMAZCAL on Northern Avenue.  Parking is not only a bear in the Seaport, it’s (very) expensive.