230 West 4th Street
Empellon has been recommended to me at least three times this summer. It is the hot new place for amazing Mexican food. And ABSURDLYDELICIOUSMOUTHWATERING TACOS! With my sister and my mom we figured we would never get a last-minute reservation on a Saturday night, but my sister tried and succeeded and we were set (and at the reasonable hour of 7:45 no less)!
The loud, hip, dim-lit front room at Empellon is worlds different from the quieter, relaxed, bright back room. But all booked up, we settled at our table in the front room and began the adventure. The cocktails, although small, were fresh and quenched the thirst that a Saturday of hanging out will create. We opted for the guacamole and 2 salsas -- chili arbole and smoked cashew -- which were fantastic. The guacamole was basic but combined with either of the two saulsces (salsa/sauces because of their smooth consistency) it took on new levels of deliciousness. Beware, the chili arbole salsa packs a punch!
Next, the tacos. WOW! We had to ask that they come with corn tortillas but with 3 huge tacos to an entree sized portion and the fine tuned flavor combinations that came out, asking for different tortillas is hardly a complaint. We ordered the Chicken with Black Kale and Salsa Verde, Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo (garlic), and Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower and Raisin Puree.
I tried the scallops first and the two enormous scallops per taco were deliciously seared on the outside and soft and meaty on the inside. I was surprised by the sweetness of the raisin puree, but in contrast to the typical spicy flavors of Mexican food, I thought it was a beautiful reinvention of the wheel.
Next up was the skirt steak which was unreal. I did not want that taco to ever end! Empellon does not skimp on fully filling their tacos and the strength and durability of those corn tortillas was mesmerizing. The barely sweet garlic sauce paired perfectly with the caramelized onions atop the steak and the meat was cooked to perfection. This taco was appetizer, entree, and
dessert in one!
The chicken taco was great, but did not stand up to my transformative skirt steak taco experience right before, but I like the flavor of the bitter kale with the chicken (and a few spoonfuls of the leftover salsas). I did add my own spice to the tacos, but only after taking a bite and fully embracing the "naked" flavor that the chef so excellently presented.
We also had the Jicama with Radishes and Watermelon dressing salad which was equally as delicious as the tacos and a nice light and summery dish to accompany the meats.
Way too full to even consider dessert, I know I will be returning to Empellon as soon as I can. After all, they have 10 different tacos on their menu and I only tried 3!!