What is it that makes a restaurant, coffee shop or bakery exceptional? When you are deciding what to have for lunch or where to take your family on a Sunday afternoon, what comes to mind? I doubt you think to yourself,, “let’s take the kids here because they’ll love the aesthetic” or, “honey we have to try this new place because the layout really flows well”. While things like ambiance, customer service and special events are domineering thoughts, they are not the first to be discussed. We can say almost unanimously that we first think about the tastiness of the food when deciding where to go eat. The food is what brings us in and the experience is what keeps us coming back. Our search for the best food in town has brought us to a top notch taqueria, Norma’s Casa De Tacos.At first glance, Norma’s might lead you to believe it is just another Mexican restaurant in a sea of endless Hispanic fan fare. The inside is very plain yet quaint with a burst of color erupting from the yellow walls. It sits in a small plaza on Market Street in Boardman. What this place may seemingly lack in edgy décor or festive music, it more than makes up for in delicious food and satisfying customer service. The aroma of homemade Mexican food nearly overwhelms you as you walk through the front doors. This was our first visit to this establishment and we were greeted immediately with a smile and warm welcome. Without a doubt the best part of this encounter was the food. Mexican cuisine is probably one of my favorite ethnic dishes. I love the flavors and the colors, not to mention the price. With that being said, I was more than elated to feed my heart’s desire. As with most if not all Mexican dining experiences, we started with chips and sides of guacamole and salsa. Maybe I am the only one, but I am very particular about tortilla chips. They must have the right crispness without being too crunchy and the color has to be just right. These chips met all my requirements. They were fresh, warm and fried to just the right texture. They had more of a white color (not the golden brown you usually encounter). This tells me that the oil is changed regularly, and the chips are well cared for in the cooking process. The guacamole was heavenly. It had a vibrantly green hue to it, which indicates that it’s (possibly) made fresh to order each time. Also—this guac had smooth, buttery notes with a slight saltiness to it. Simply put, it rocked! The salsa was a refreshing counterpart with an undertone of spiciness.Next up was chile relleno which is by far my favorite Mexican dish. When entering, my eyes immediately caught the specials sign that showcased this particular dish. Chile relleno is a stuffed poblano pepper that is breaded and deep fried. I have never had such a tender and juicy example of this as I did at Norma’s. If I had to pick one dish that you must try this would clearly be it. Spade and I also tried a number of other savory creations. We ordered a few different tacos and a burrito as well. All of the protein used for these was phenomenal—tender, full of flavor, etc. What stood out from the crowd was the Colorado carnitas though (featured in the burrito). It was shredded pork simmered in a special red sauce. This savory burrito was bursting with flavor with every bite.This quaint taqueria is a beautiful masterpiece of ethnic food. The menu is small yet well constructed. Every item we were served was made with elegance and care. Norma herself was even in the back preparing each patron’s meal. It is a place we will surely return to for many years. Whether you are looking for your next lunch date or where to order takeout, Norma’s Casa De Tacos should always rank high on your list.