Yeah, I still love Mexican food. Nothing new here.
But I don’t love just any Mexican food. I love carefully prepared, authentic Mexican food – juicy meats, homemade tortillas, vibrant salsas.
Mexican food doesn’t begin or end with Taco Bell.*
Oaxaca, an absolute shoe box of a place on the UWS specializes in a few Mexican dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and tortas. The space is extremely small and casual – just a few communal tables, a counter where you order, and a very well priced menu, including lunch specials.
These tacos are top notch. Incredibly fresh, with tender corn tortillas and a red salsa that is spicy and a bit smoky with roasted chiles. It has the brightness of fresh tomatoes and isn’t insanely hot, which lets the flavor of the tart, creamy avocado sauce shine. The pickled onions are the most genius addition here – found all over taco stands in Mexico, this crowning touch is ignored a lot at restaurants in the US. The onions are sweet and sour, and bring the entire taco to life, much the way that a spritz of lemon enlivens a perfect piece of smoked salmon. The meats themselves are excellent. The pork is juicy but not overly sauced or greasy. The chicken is, shockingly even better – what’s the last time that chicken beat out pork?! Stewed with garlic, onions, and spices, it is popping with flavor and very juicy
These are no slouch either! The rice is fluffy and well cooked, with the savory taste of garlic and other aromatics, and the beans are tender but with a bite and smoky, savory flavor. The pico de gallo is made simply but well, with a lot of cilantro to augment the veggies.
Oaxaca gets a big fat A+ from me. Fast, sweet service, cheap prices, and delicious food (that, truth me told, comes in rather small portions.) The UWS is very lucky to have this in its lunch and dinner time arsenal.
Plus, it has a killer wall of hot sauces. They’re playing my song.
*Disclaimer: I freaking love Taco Bell. Those Doritos tacos are unbelievable.