Empellon Taqueria

Empellon is another restaurant that has been on my list.  Finally got there!  They just recently opened a second restaurant that is supposedly a little higher end.  Will put that on my list too.

The front room is very loud so we were thrilled when we got placed in the back where it is a little calmer and quieter.  Since I just got back from Mexico City where I ate some amazing food it is kind of hard to be as excited about how good it could be because the food was so unique and delicious in Mexico City.  Funny enough in Mexico City, no garlic.  In NYC, they love garlic.  What's up with that? 

We shared everything last night.  Started with the classic guacamole and two salsas on the side.  One of the people we were with last night was a vegetarian so I didn't go full hog wild – no pun intended.  The guacamole was really good and had this nice smoky flavor to it.  One of the salsas were a mild chipolte flavor and the other made of roasted tomatoes had a little kick.  BTW, the tequila and mezcal menu here is fantastic. 

This is thinly sliced octopus with parsnips and a pumpkin seed chipolte salsa.  Really interesting.  Rich and different.  Everyone seemed to love this more than I did.  Fred polished it off.

Large fresh hearts of palm with greens and smoked sunchokes and a spicy dressing.  Creative.  Nice touch on smoking the sunchokes.

The queso fundido section of the menu was a total winner.  A variety of dishes that are served with a melted jack cheese and served with fresh tortillas on the side.  Jack cheese is perfect for these dishes as it is similar to the Oaxacan cheese served in Mexico.  Grilled shisito peppers served in a dish with melted cheese.  Wrap these up in a tortilla, scoop some spicy salsa over the top and you are set.

Our other queso fundido was baked pumpkin roasted in orange juice with pumpkin seeds and serrano chilis.  I liked the serano chilis better.

We did three sets of tacos.  The larger portions come with 3 tacos.  Simple open faced tacos.  This is the fish taco.  Fish tempura with sliced cabbage and limes

Scallops with cauliflower, capers and a spicy raisin puree.  Unique but totally worked.

Hedgehog mushrooms served with a tomato-chipolte salsa. 

All and all quite good. Not Mexico City but ranks up there with simple, good, creative real Mexican food.  Looking forward to checking out their second place.