Taqueria Picoso assessment: Alexandria restaurant makes a speciality of Mexico Metropolis avenue meals

The chef’s chief reminiscences of Canada have been in regards to the circumstances exterior the restaurant, not inside it. “I simply obtained drained of the chilly,” he says. “It’s loopy chilly.”

Gomez wasn’t fully prepared for one more winter season north of the border. Furthermore, he had a candy gig at El Balcon, a properly-regarded rooftop restaurant with sweeping sights of the Plaza de la Constitución, the first public sq. in Mexico Metropolis. He was main a gaggle that acknowledged variety of boundaries, combining European and pre-Columbian parts and procedures for this kind of playful dishes as huitlacoche risotto, octopus carpaccio and an avocado tlayuda with escamoles.

However then Voskuil designed his pitch: He invited Gomez to take a look at D.C., if solely to show to the chef that you just don’t will want an instruction guide on the right way to robe for winter in Washington. It turned out to be transfer: Throughout his tour, Gomez understood he may primarily be of companies. He may inject a minimal CDMX avenue meals veracity into our taco scene, which he situated lacking.

That is how, within the shut, Voskuil persuaded Gomez — a chef formally correctly educated at El Colegio Glorious de Gastronomia and a dude devoid of any specialist experience producing tacos — to function his taqueria in an Alexandria strip middle. The operator gave Gomez the keys to the kitchen space at Taqueria Picoso and permit him run it like a highway vendor with wonderful-eating sensibilities.

The splendor of Gomez’s endeavours — and people of his crew, which embrace sous chef Isaac Ramirez, additionally from Mexico Metropolis — is that the crew doesn’t want you finish and ooh and aah round their creations, like some 4-star chef hovering round your desk, aching for a praise. You’ll be able to savor their tacos in full ignorance of the amount of get the job executed that goes into them. I’m not arguing that happy, mindless snarfing is sample worthy of celebrating, but it surely’s much more in step with the road-food stuff ethos that co-proprietors Voskuil and spouse Lynn Umemoto have embraced.

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Get, as an example, the al pastor tacos at Picoso. Numerous taquerias use a vertical spit to arrange dinner their marinated pork — Las Gemelas within the Union Market District La Placita in Hyattsville and La Jarochita No. 2 in Arlington spring to ideas — however none aim for the cross-cultural traditionalism of Gomez’s variation. He required an al pastor that paid homage to the taco’s Lebanese roots, so his marinade options sweeter options, like cinnamon, which coats two distinctive cuts of pork proper earlier than they’re layered on to a spit and roasted. His al pastor taco could be lengthy gone in a couple of bites, however they’re three great bites.

As with Las Gemelas, the kitchen at Picoso would make its possess masas, depending on yellow, blue and white corn sorts grown within the central valleys of Oaxaca. Gomez and his crew actually don’t press the masa by hand, a course of too laborious for a quick paced restaurant. As a substitute, they rely on a tool, which stamps out golden, correctly spherical tortillas with the scent of candy corn. Now, I acknowledge tortilla thickness is particular person. Some like them as sheer as silk, like these tortillas at El Sol. Many others favor a sturdier basis, like folks at Picoso, the place the tortillas have heft, which factors out why each single taco is wrapped in solely a single layer.

As lots as I just like the tall-grass perfume of Picoso’s tortillas, I discover that their thickness can, on scenario, present as a soaked blanket, smothering fillings that the kitchen has so meticulously organized. That is particularly appropriate with the or else excellent vegan chorizo taco filled with roasted potatoes, beans, avocado and chihuahua cheese. Different preparations, just like the lamb barbacoa and cochinita pibil, arise a lot better to tortillas, though I need to confess that the cumbersome wrappers often gum up the performs, producing for main, chewy bites. These fillings deserve a transport technique with a minor far more delicacy.

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You’re going to come throughout no all these issues with the Baja shrimp and fish tacos, equally of that are swaddled in flour tortillas. The 2 are additionally amongst my favorite orders at Picoso. The fish taco is very impressed, pairing a size of fried cod with avocado, jalapeños, cilantro and a kale-and-tomato salad. The chunk is then accomplished with a velvet hammer: a jalapeno-cucumber dressing. This taco is simply locked down.

Tacos could be the principal attraction on this article, however different dishes have grabbed my consideration, approach too. Conventional or not, Gomez’s Sonoran scorching canine will eternally be the frequent by which I choose all different folks. His bacon-wrapped doggy is smothered in housemade frijols charros, this black-hole condiment of pinto beans, chorizo, bacon and much more. It will suck you in. His crab tostadas, on fried blue-corn tortillas, are the counterpoint to the pet: refreshing, clear, crackly. And if I’ve had a improved elote than Gomez’s model, a grilled cob dusted with two shades of roasted crimson pepper, I can’t keep in mind it.

Tucked into the Shops at Mark Centre, on the precise strip as a Subway and McDonald’s, Taqueria Picoso has a much more Do it your self aesthetic than its company neighbors, many due to Umemoto who stitched collectively the within with jeweled mirrors, corrugated metallic and loteria wallpaper. She additionally aided type the model, a hungry riff on an Aztec god, which offers the taqueria a distinct vibe altogether: Only one that feels all set to copy itself.

By no means be shocked if Umemoto and Voskuil open much more Taqueria Picosos. It seems to be part of their small marketing strategy. So does some factor else: As the home homeowners entry the “twilight of our professions,” because the 62-yr-previous Voskuil describes it, they’re desirous to the day after they’ll promote the group. They presently have folks in mind because the next-technology proprietors. One in all them takes place to be the fantastic-eating chef from Mexico Metropolis who aided construct Taqueria Picoso.

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Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday by way of Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to eight p.m. Sunday.

Prices: $2 to $80 for all merchandise on the menu, like household-design meals.