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Restaurants & Bars 8

Empellon Taqueria Review

kathryn | Apr 29, 201205:46 PM

We walked in around 6:45pm on a Sunday and were seated right away. Our server was helpful in helping us order and overall was prompt.

Ordered two cocktails. Not as good as Cocina's and far too much ice, so they immediately began tasting watered down. The Por Que No (Pueblo Viejo Blanco, Pineapple Puree, Cilantro, Serrano) was solid, tasting of fruit and cilantro, but I think the Poquito Picante at Pegu Club right now is much better. It might be a better drink if served up, and not on the rocks, as there too many rocks! The Sierra Madre (Pueblo Viejo Añejo, Root Liqueur, Smoked Maple Syrup, Black Walnut Bitter) was tasty and a little sweet due to the root/maple but suffered from the same problem, too much ice.

Scallop Ceviche with Yuzu, Pistachio, and Avocado was good but a bit busy. There was thin slices of hot pepper competing with the scallops competing with a milky flan underneath everything. The scallops themselves were sweet and fresh but got a bit lost in the cilantro, avocado, flan, hot pepper, yuzu, and what appeared to be some sort of nut purée. A very, very busy plate. And a bit with too much hot pepper really blew my palate out of whack.

The sopes with Shortribs with Salsa Roja (roasted tomato, chipotle, guajillo) were solid and well executed. Much simpler than our previous dish. I liked the contrast of the tender short rib against the crispy corn and pungent onion, but couldn't really taste the salsa roja. Not sure I would get this again though.

I did love the queso fundido with Shishito peppers. They sautéed the peppes, took off the stems, and piled them on top of melted cheese. A great and unexpected combination, warm, fresh tortillas, with gooey cheese, and spicy shisitos. I may crave this in the future.

We also got two appetizer (two taco) plates. The Lamb Barbacoa with Salsa Borracha (orange juice, mezcal, pasilla Oaxaquena) were well executed and flavorful but not particularly exciting. I did like the use of pickled cucumber and olives for textural contrast and acid.

However, I adored the Beer Braised Tongue with Potatoes and Arbol Chile Salsa (pumpkin seeds, sesame, arbol). The tongue tacos were incredibly tender. So flavorful, with a slow heat that crept up on you. My husband had been worried about tongue, thinking it would be chewy, this was just the opposite. Wonderful and creative.

We were so stuffed at this point, we had no room for dessert.

Overall, a quite nice meal. Sat in the back room, noise was at a pleasant hum, room was 80% full. No shouting needed. We spent $71 for two, before tax, tip, and drinks, which seems very reasonable given the ambitiousness of the cooking, and high quality ingredients. I prefer Cocina but they are two different restaurants, trying to accomplish different things.

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