Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Taco Taco Taco

Pachanga Patterson has been all over the blogs recently, which is weird, because it's in my neighborhood, which typically shies away from citywide attention. The concept is "Mexican food as made by people behind the line who are hungry after a night of service." Maybe not the most terse description, but hey, it's accurate. Of course, people already know this place, thought it has only been open a few weeks. I ran into the sous chef from Ma Peche, a sign that industry has already caught on.

Here's what they've caught on to:

P & H soda mixers in the cocktails from Anton Nocito at P & H. The hibiscus margarita is delish, if a little on the boozy side. A trio of salsas might not be in season (corn and tomato in March?), but I ate them anyway. Tomatillo had good texture and acidity, while a roasted tomato version coaxed every available molecule of summer sweetness.

I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed a crispy, crunchy, peanutty salad of romaine leaves, fried peanuts, jicama, and pickled red onion. It would have been the perfect salve for the extremely fiery and nonetheless addictive fried chiles with cotija cheese that I ordered with my tacos. Because I can't do anything food-related in moderation, I ordered nine tacos for the two of us. (Note: this is what I consider to be a restaurant misstep; every taco plate comes with three tacos and the menu specifically says that mixing and matching is prohibited. Boo to a lack of variety.)

Moo shu duck tacos actually tasted nothing like moo shu--I was thinking cabbage and mushroom and hoisin--but they did taste strikingly similar to the Ssam Bar pork buns, and I mean that as a compliment. The filling appeared to be a confit of leg, along with lightly pickled cucumber and fresh sliced radish. Berkshire pork tacos were stuffed also with pickled onions and deep-fried pork rinds. Say no more. A taco advertised as "black trumpet mushrooms" was actually portabellos for the evening, a huge disappointment, since the two couldn't be more different versions of fungus. Still, it tasted good. Overall, the restaurant could use to include one meat taco with more meat texture, as opposed to all the slow-cooked stuff it has going on (pork shoulder, short ribs, duck confit). Bring on the tongue!

Dessert was the dark version of Vesta's baby Jesus cake, the Diabolita--same owners, different appeal. The cake is a square of chocolate and spice, served warm with caramel. It isn't a cerebral dessert, but dessert needn't always be so thinky.

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