A reprieve from sobriety. Also great tacos.
Taqueria is a frills-free, wine-in-cups, plates-on-request kind of a place. Formica tables quiver suggestively, and white walls are smattered with a collection of posters. Glowering out of one such is the generously moustachioed Zapata, leading his second revolution – the liberation of Me-hi-can food of course. It is no mean feat to lift this underdog of a cuisine from its sullied position in the tough London food ranks, but Taqueria manages it whilst being ridiculously light on the wallet.
I’m starting with the side, because I could order a multitude and be entirely satisfied. Although the (half) corn cob of Élote is stubby in stature, it is not short on flavour, featuring perversely swollen kernals of corn rubbed in a mixture of mayonnaise, crumbly cheese, and chile chipotle powder.
Corn tacos are made in-house and form the base of a dozen or so different menu items. These soft discs hold mounds of shredded duck well, with meaty-spiciness bouncing off nutty taco in thrilling rivulets of flavour. Slow cooked beef tongue is a less enjoyable specimen, with each bite our excitement wanes, until all that is left is the wet aftertaste of the pallid offal, tragically under seasoned and over boiled. Next up are sinus-assaulting jalapeños – although the heat of which are a welcome commodity, the delivery fails – I don’t know what process these have been put through, but the texture is cardboardy.
The skirt steak dials things back up –fluffy tacos are spun out in larger circles to blanket charcoal roasted beef, with an onion crunch. The Vampiro is the sexed up version of the last, on a slinky-crisp tortilla (tostada), oozing a supremely gratifying melted cheese. Pollo tostado brings a certain lightness with a chirpy guacamole and crisp shaved lettuce.
Not to be outdone, the fish dishes have their own special merit. Soft shelled crab is drizzled in vibrant pea puree and chipotle mayonnaise, snapping with a delicious crackle between teeth. The chef (a complete sweetie) sends out a complimentary beer battered pollack taco – the unchallenged champion of our feast.
Ceviche consists of lime-licked pollack and submissive avocado, as refreshing in your mouth as that first icy wave is on your toes, on the beach your better self might inhabit. You know, the one that says no to churros and fried plaintain and yes to pre-dawn squats and fat annihilation. The bitch doesn’t know what she’s missing.
If, like me, you are more interested in maintaining the plump, then these churros are worth the artery furring. Buffed in a thick crust of cinnamon sugar and presented with a homemade goats milk toffee (cajeta), every furtive bite is a sticky, finger-slurpy wonder. Fried plaintains are doused in the same cajeta, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the crunch of toasted almonds. Vanilla cream is heavy on gelatin, and unfortunately does not wobble as rivetingly as a rubber fist might.
Service is laid back in a great way, average price per person is £25.
Tube: Notting Hill