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Annual Taco Week aims to bring people together

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When it comes to what should be on the menu, Jared Betts puts tacos at the top of the list.

“I went to Costa Rica for an artist residency and I learned about all the different cuisines of central and south America and I found out just how cool a taco could be and all the fresh ingredients and when I came back home I thought that’s something that Moncton deserved to have more of,” he said.

That was the start of Moncton Taco Week, a food festival that is celebrating its sixth year.

“I was just one boy with a taco dream and it grew to so much more,” he laughed.

The first year only 18 restaurants participated, but now it hovers around 38-40 restaurants in Cape Pele, Shediac, Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.

Brett Sutherland, owner of La Chiquita Tacos Y Ma’s at the Dieppe Farmer’s Market, says it’s a great way to showcase their tacos.

“We do authentic Mexican tacos here so we have five different types, while usually it’s four, but five different types of taco week,” said Sutherland.

“It’s very flavourful, so it’s called carnitas, it’s an original Michoacán, which is a state in Mexico so we’re doing the original way. It’s very flavorful and we offer some condiments to go with it to really amp up the flavours.”

On the menu this year is a little bit of everything, including all types of protein, gluten-free and vegetarian options and even a dessert taco option.

Mitl and Sarah Gaxiola, owners of Gaxiola Mexican Restaurant in Salisbury, N.B., are joining in on the fun for the first time this year.

“It’s really been a great driver for sales over just the last couple of days and we’re really excited to see new faces as they come in to try our taco week tacos,” said Sarah.

The family restaurant is offering its Taco Dorados mix toped with avocado and cheese for this year’s festival.

Taco from Gaxiola restaurant in Salisbury, N.B. (Alana Pickrell/CTV News)

“I think the experience is like when you go to Mexico and eat at my mom’s house or other mom’s house and you can try the food, it’s hand-made and made with love and everything like when I was a child and made food with my mom, it’s the same experience here,” said Mitl.

“We make the food with love.”

While tacos are the heart of the festival, the meaning behind the event is something much bigger than just what to eat for dinner.

“For me it’s about community coming together and celebrating our international chefs,” said Betts.

“We’ve got so much here and we’ve got people coming from all over the world, moving to Moncton, and it just something really beautiful to have your family together around the table.”

The sense of community and bringing people together has already been seen by the participating restaurants.

“It definitely does bring the community together. I would say like people that haven’t had it before they’re very surprised when they try it,” said Sutherland.

Sarah added, “the people that have come in have come from near and far to try our tacos and to get to know us, to get to know our family and it’s just a really nice way to connect with people, in a new way, over an awesome food.”

As for what next year’s festival might bring, everyone involved talked about growing the menu and expanding the festivities.

However, Moncton Taco Week 2024 isn’t over yet, people have until Tuesday to eat as many as they can.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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