Monday, October 5, 2015

La Palapa Taco Bar

Yesterday was National Taco Day, so we felt obligated to get some tacos while we were at Urbanspace Vanderbilt for our fried chicken. There were a couple of taco options there, and we ended up at La Palapa Taco Bar, a taqueria spinoff from La Palapa, a Mexican restaurant in the East Village.

The prices were kind of outrageous - $6 per taco or 3 for $15 - but as we said in our last Urbanspace post, most things at the Urbanspace markets are kind of ridiculously priced. We decided to get the 3 taco "deal" to try them out, getting a set of pork, chicken, and fish. They didn't seem to be as tiny as the tacos at some other places are for that price.

The first one we tried was the al pastor, described as pineapple chile rubbed pork. We hadn't been sure which meat it was when we tried it, but the pineapple flavor told us it was the al pastor. (That said, A didn't really get much pineapple in his half of the taco, so maybe it wasn't that evenly mixed.) This taco was pretty good, probably the best of the 3, mostly due to the brightness that the pineapple added to the flavors.

Next up was the chicken, although similar to the pork, we couldn't really tell that just from the taste of the meat. We couldn't identify the tacos just by looking at them, and then the meat in these tacos didn't seem to have very distinctive flavors. This was supposed to be chicken tinga, chipotle BBQ pulled chicken according to the menu, but it didn't taste like any tinga I've had from other taco trucks or taquerias. The sauce and flavor was good, but it didn't have much smoky or earthy flavor like we would have expected from chicken tinga.

The last one we ate was the fish taco, which was achiote rubbed mahi mahi. This one we could taste was fish. It was pretty good, but the sauce/seasoning was not really that distinctive in flavor from the chicken, from what we remember. Not bad, but nothing special.

The 3 tacos came with 2 small cups of salsa. One was a fresh jalapeño salsa that really packed some heat, and the other was more of a pickled jalapeño and maybe tomatillo salsa. We liked that second one much better, and it was good on the chicken and fish tacos (didn't try it on the al pastor).

Overall, the tacos were fine, but nothing really special. In size and style, they reminded me a little bit of Mexico Blvd, but the ones from that truck are better in my opinion. Add that fact to the price tag, and it's tough to say that we'll return to La Palapa in the near future. The tacos were fine, but they weren't so exceptional that we'd be willing to pay that much for them on a regular basis, if at all.

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