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El Paisa Restaurant & Taqueria II

Brooklyn NY (Bushwick)

324 suydam st, brooklyn NY 11237

El Paisa

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Rating: 95
Price: $$$

With West-Coast business correspondent Sergey in town for a few days, we naturally had to partake in various business-like manners by acquiring some tacos. A prior delicious experience at Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos in Bushwick was completely delicious but, unfortunately, not photographed, and thus not reviewed. Looking for a guaranteed good time, and besides that we were in Bushwick , myself and a consortium of business associates (Sergey, Ben, Jessie, Sarah, additional Ben) made the trek over to TMLH. Inexplicably, at 8:45PM on a Friday, they were closed down. Fortunately, Sergey had a smartphone, so we looked up a place nearby: El Paisa Taqueria. While initially disappointed, we were soon convinced that perhaps things had worked out in our favor!!

El Paisa was right across the street from Maria Hernandez Park, and conveniently located about halfway between the DeKalb and Jefferson L stops. There are fun toys you can ride on outside for a quarter, and the interior is decorated in a totally awesome manner. Huge color pictures of various religious figures, a 'ConGRADulations' balloon, cool tablecloths, and totally badass music. When we walked in we happened to be the only customers but, as I mentioned, it was getting a bit late on a Friday night. The service was super attentive, giving us as much time as we needed to make a decision, and then sending two people over to take it down, ask plenty of clarifying questions, and provide us with excellent vibes and many friendly smiles. Perhaps the only thing I might complain about here is the $4 price for a bowl of chips and salsa - while I'm not the sort of guy who thinks Mexican restaurants should be required to hand it out for free, something in the $1.50-2.00 range seems a bit more reasonable to me. Then again, tacosmog isn't dedicated to the reviewing of non-taco-menu-pricing, so consider it an irrelevant warning!

The food came out quickie. I had ordered 3 tacos: 1 al pastor (in which they are 'especialistas'), 1 bistec, and 1 placero. All three looked awesome and were accompanied by limes and two salsa options: a tangy-bitter-smoky mole-themed dark red salsa, and an avocado-based salsa verde. I first ate my taco placero, which was a new concept for me. It was a couple classic corn tortillas topped with rice, black beans, avocado slices, a hard-boiled egg chopped in half, and a nice onion-cilantro mix. Lacking a meat, it didn't have much strong flavor, though the combination of the rice and beans was a nice blend. The beans were mildly seasoned for a smooth flavor, but this particular taco didn't have much kick. Based on the egg, I'm going to surmise it was designed as a breakfast taco, in which a mild flavor is totally reasonable and delicious.

Next up was the taco bistec. The steak was cut into strips and marinated with a fairly salty blend. Following the taco placero, it was nice to have a classic salted steak taco with a squeeze of lime. The meat was well-prepared and I certainly can't complain, though I would have preferred a bit more peppery flavor. Saving the best for last, I chomped into the taco al pastor. 'No wonder they claimed to be especialistas,' I thought, 'for this taco is truly delicious.' The al pastor was awesomely marinated and shaved with a bit of pineapple on the side for that perfect al pastor spicy-sweet combination. With a dose of lime and some salsa, this taco truly couldn't be beat. SECRET CONFESSION: I've never been a big mole fan, but on this al pastor taco, the bitter flavor worked perfectly when combined with the seasoned meat, tangy lime, and smoother salsa verde. I believe I would rate this taco the best taco I've had in New York (caveat: I am very hungry while writing this). Maybe it was the ambience (nothing says 'taco' like David Hasselhoff on the radio), maybe it was the company, maybe it was that this would likely be my 'farewell taco' to Brooklyn; probably, though, it was just the delicious food. On this day, El Paisa Taqueria ascends to the throne of 'Best Tacos in NYC.'

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