Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The One About the Taqueria that Crossed the Road
In its days as a much more modest taqueria it was called "one of the best restaurants in the area," by the New York Times. Now, just across the street in a larger and more grand location, El Paso has been transformed into a tqueria and cavicheria. With its new and extended title comes more upscale dishes as well something lacking in most restaurants around here: atmosphere.
With staco walls, Frida Kahlo art in tile, decorative skeletons and other Dia de los Muertos items, El Paso takes you to something akin to the high end restaurant of Oaxaca. Walk through to the outdoor covered patio area and your trip to Mexico is complete.
Each dish is fresh and authentic, so allow the knowledgeable wait staff to steer you to a dish outside of your comfort zone. If you live around here you've probably had Mole Poblano and enchiladas, but not like these. Try the tacos, you get three of them, perfectly presented. The el pastor taco and the chorizo are my favorites. It's a pleasure to speak to the staff, they are sweet enough to sing a song a friend and I had forgotten the lyrics to, and they are eagerly willing to discuss the future of the old restaurant's space (a Mexican bakery is the rumor). The addition of the ceviche menu had me concern at first, "overextendederia," I feared, was to be added to its new title. Not to worry, the ceviche stays consistent: fresh and authentic again.
This updated restaurant, at least to me, is a welcomed addition to East Harlem. The chatter, as it often is with a gentrifying area, is mixed. This upscale place is a bit pricer then the two other El Paso locations, which remain as traditional taquerias. More expensive, yes, but a destination restaurant, fit to take the East Harlem doubters, of which I know many.
Recommended Dishes: Mole Pablano, Al Pastor (Pork, Pineapple and Onion) Tacos, Enchiladas
1643 Lexington Ave at 104th St