El Paso Taqueira is a hidden away on a small Upper East Side street under building scaffolding and behind many bushes on the sidewalk, but once discovered, there are many feasts for the eyes and reasons for your tummy to celebrate on the inside.
I went to El Paso Taqueira with Kitty, Squishy, Volatile, Twitchy, Roomie, and Mic on a cool winter evening after class. We were hungry and craving some very good Mexican food. Boy, were we satisfied.
First we got appetizers. One of the appetizers we got was the guacamole with fresh tortilla chips. The guacamole was fresh and creamy with the butteriness of the avocado coming through. You can tell that there was lime in there, but it was perfectly balanced, without the lime killing the avocado taste. Paired with freshly made tortilla chips, it was a nice start to the meal.
Our second appetizer was the nachos. The nachos looked extremely messy when it arrived at our table, but the appearance of the dish was not representative of its great taste. The flavors were blended very well, with the fresh vegetables adding to the lightness of what would seemingly be a greasy appetizer. With the crisp tortilla chips paired with more of the fresh guacamole, covered in cheese and sour cream, you can say that you enjoyed this guilty pleasure.
From the appetizers, we moved on the explore the world of El Paso's entrees. I apologize for the blurriness of some of the photos. When these photos were taken, I still had not learned how to take masterful pictures of food without flash. The reason could be that the camera was new and had many new functions I still had to learn. This is what you get for not reading the instruction manual, I guess!
After failed attempts at getting good enchiladas, I figured that this authentic Mexican restaurant would have good ones. I would be greatly satisfied. I got the enchiladas filled with beef and the green tomatillo salsa. The dish came with rice and black beans on the side. The enchiladas were warm and moist with the beef on the inside satisfyingly tender and complemented with just the right amount of spice. The green tomatillo salsa was not overly spicy, as I feared the red sauce would be too spicy (And it did turn out to be too spicy, as we'll see from Mic, Twitchy, and Volatile's dishes.). The rice was flavorful and when mixed with the beans, it was very hearty and warming a cold evening. The only thing I could complain about were the raw onions that were used as garnish. They were large and unnecessary to the dish and eating them would lead to killing all other flavors in the dish and bad breath for me.
Twitchy and Mic got the same dish as I did, but instead of the green tomatillo salsa, they chose to sample the red guajillo salsa. Mic's dish also varied in that she had chicken instead of beef. The sauce was tasty, but it was also overly spicy. As a result, you could not taste the rest of your food after eating this. If you like spicy food, however, you should always get the "red sauce." Mic also made the unfortunate mistake of declaring the dish not spicy enough and adding hot sauce to it. After a few more mouthfuls she died. Copious amounts of water were consumed on that side of the table.
But on our side of the table, copious amounts of water were also consumed. Volatile also made the terrible mistake of adding hot sauce to her enchiladas. She got the cheese enchiladas with the red guajillo salsa. Her face was very red after she consumed such a hot plate.
Kitty and Squishy, because they were as famished as we were, shared a chicken quesadilla and an side order of rice and beans. The quesadilla came with the great guacamole again and the quesadilla was warm and fresh. They enjoyed the heartiness of the rice and beans and were easily satisfied.
Strangely enough, the dessert was very limited, so three of us got the flan. For some reason, one dish came with a chocolate sauce, while the other two came with a strawberry sauce. Both were equally delicious and complemented the flan, which was smooth and light. The caramel sauce was strong, but not overbearing and it was a nice way to end such an enjoyable meal.
Mic and Roomie shared the fried bananas with vanilla ice cream. The crispy wrapping gave way to warm and gooey banana contents that, when paired with cold vanilla ice cream, brought us to heaven. The pairing of hot and cold inside your mouth is always a pleasing feeling when eating and is best achieved in the wonders of dessert.
Overall, El Paso Taqueira has great food with a pleasing atmosphere and festive decorations. Though small (we had to wait a short while for a table), the fact that it was still crowded when we were leaving is a testament that this is a little Mexican gem tucked away near the exposed tracks of the subway in a small abode in the Upper East Side. I would return there again when I crave authentic and spectacular Mexican food.
Opinion: Highly Recommended