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Los Bandidos a fresh, tasty option at Vicenza’s Caserma Ederle

Los Bandidos' crispy pork tacos after the addition of a chile sauce, sour cream, chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and lime. The eatery is located at Caserme Ederele in Vicenza, Italy.

NANCY MONTGOMERY/STARS AND STRIPES

By NANCY MONTGOMERY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 7, 2018

Celebrity chef and CNN travel host Anthony Bourdain says he sneaks off to Popeyes for their mac and cheese. I myself fell victim in the early 2000s to the franchise’s million-calorie deep-fried catfish sandwich.

But for years I’ve avoided the usual Army base fast-food offerings. Not only because of calories and trans fats. I had the worst-tasting hot dog of my life on base — and I’ve eaten gas station hot dogs.

Then last week I tried Los Bandidos, one of several kiosk eateries lining Caserma Ederle’s outdoor dining area in Vicenza.

I ordered the al pastor tacos, described as three tortillas with marinated pork shoulder, special achiote sauce and pineapple. It was busy, and I waited about eight minutes while it was made to order. I took my paper plate with my 7.50-euro meal (about $8.70) to one of the red metal tables. It was love at first bite.

The pork lay smoky and soft inside the charred flour tortilla. The fresh pineapple added a touch of sweetness. The achiote, made of numerous herbs, spices and zests, added complexity. I needed a multitude of napkins.

I still fondly recall my first sight of the taco toppings. “Oh, look — chopped cilantro!” I almost shouted. “Fresh limes!”

There were also three different vibrantly colored sauces, sour cream, chopped tomatoes and onions. Everything was fresh — and tasted like it.

Los Bandidos, Portuguese for “the bandits,” opened in October as part of a recent Army effort to provide more healthful food. It’s owned and operated by a woman from Guatemala and her Italian chef husband, along with two employees. They all cram into the small space to meet what’s been a significant demand. It’s a family-owned enterprise, not part of a chain or franchise.

On another visit I tried the carnitas chicharron crispy pork tacos, also sigh-inducing. I’m looking forward to the chicken quesadillas and the fajita bowl with rice, beans, veggies and beef. And I can’t wait for the next “Crazy Corn” Wednesday, when roasted, spicy corn is available. But I think my heart will always belong to the al pastor tacos.

montgomery.nancy@stripes.com

Los Bandidos

Address: Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

Prices: 4.50 euros ($5.30) for the beans and rice appetizer, 10 euros ($12) for a combination platter of quesadillas or tacos with rice and beans and a beverage. Tacos or quesadillas with meat are 7-7.50 euros. Vegetarian quesadillas are 7 euros; cheese quesadillas are 5 euros. Sodas and bottled water are 1 euro.

Information: (+39)0444-71-6285; website: facebook.com/bandidos.it

Los Bandidos' crispy pork tacos before the addition of various toppings. The dining option is relatively new to Caserme Ederle in Vicenza, Italy.
NANCY MONTGOMERY/STARS AND STRIPES

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