After reading about Tacoteca on Kevin Eats and Eater LA, we realized that it's located so close to our usual stomping grounds, we couldn't not go. And we're so glad we did. Obviously, this city has its fair share of amazing Mexican restaurants, ranging from upscale California-Mexican to inexpensive street food taco trucks. The restaurant is spearheaded by chef Ricardo Diaz (of Guisado's fame, amongst others), in partnership with Adam Fleischman and Lee Weinberg's Advantage Restaurant Partners (of Smoke.Oil.Salt). With a lounge-y interior and vibe (the space used to be The Charleston bar, and still retains much of the former vibe), creative dishes, and a feeling of authenticity, Tacoteca's food is upscale yet casual.
One of the fun, albeit possibly unnecessary, features of the restaurant is their rosemary-infused water.
Their cocktail list is extensive, with a selection of creative tequila and mezcal drinks. However, ordering off their happy hour menu has its limitations, and we found this drink (can't remember the name-- but their version of a Moscow Mule it seemed) to be a bit of a let-down.
The spicy margarita was a definite improvement, and we enjoyed the flavor. The name is accurate-- it was quite spicy.
The smoky guacamole was nice. Really enjoyed the pairing with cheese and salsa, and the crispy tostadas were a nice alternative to your basic tortilla chip.
The duck tamale was definitely one our favorite dishes of the night. It's not your typical tamale with the filling in the middle-- the duck flavor was powerful in every moist bite. The onions and sauce were perfect compliments to this treat.
The lamb taco (off of the happy hour menu) was a great start to the taco portion of the meal. The lamb was tender and flavorful, and the simple accroutrements enhanced the dish without overpowering it.
The grilled chicken breast taco with pico de gallo and salsa verde was also a really solid choice. Simple, but good.
The grilled octopus taco with a serrano chile-peanut sauce was our favorite dish of the night. The octopus was cooked perfectly, with a tenderness that is very difficult to achieve. It also had the perfect amount of sauce, keeping the tortilla from becoming too soggy. All around, it was a wonderful, flavorful, and creative dish that we'll keep coming back for.
The carne asada taco was another really good dish of the night. The meat was tender, it was flavorful, and prepared simply.
For dessert, we ordered sweet, crispy tortillas that were a cross between a churro and tortilla chip. They were delicious and addicting, and the sauce helped curb the dryness of the cinnamon-dusted chip.
Overall, the meal was really fun and delicious. Tacoteca is certainly a contestant for LA's best new Mexican restaurant, and we're excited to see if they continue to provide innovative yet simple, delicious food.