You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

La Taqueria me hizo feliz--Taqueria Feliz, Manayunk, PA

Hey Everyone!

As my senior year winds down, I'm finding more time in what should be less time. As I manage finishing up my schoolwork, working my job making pizzas, and doing other extraneous things like mowing my lawn and finding a matching bow tie and suspender set for my senior prom, I've also managed to try out some new and interesting restaurants and recipes. Today I have a restaurant, but I'll have a recipe soon!

A few weeks ago I read an interesting positive review of "La Taqueria Feliz" (located at 4410 Main Street in Manayunk, PA, Laban's ReviewTheir Website) by Philly Inquirer critic Craig Laban. So, when my family sat, wondering where to go on a cool and early Saturday night--I knew we had to try this new spot out.

La Taqueria Feliz is but one restaurant in a booming enterprise invested in by investment partners Brian Sirhal and Tim Spinner. La Taqueria is the newest, most casual addition into the family, where each restaurant incorporates the spanish word for happy into the name (see: "La Calaca Feliz") The decorations, including a sheet metal laser cut with the restaurant's name, are bright and exciting; the layout just works.

The food just works too. The chips came out hot (which is so easy and I always scowl when a restaurant can't pull it off), and the salsas and guacamoles are delicious and varied. The classic salsa is thin and soupy but packs a flavorful punch, and the guacamole is smooth and a little bit plain, but with a lovely citrus-flooded aftertaste.

The drinks, cited by Laban as the easy way La Taqueria draws the young Manayunk crowd that creates the bustling atmosphere, were tasty, but slightly undeserving of any overhype. A good mexican restaurant should serve a decent margarita, as La Taqueria does. The Dead Man Ryes (below, first) was a tickling rye whiskey and cranberry drink and the Feliz Margarita (below, further) was, as it needed to be, a formidable option. The restaurant also offers more adventurous cocktails such as the "Moonshine Margarita" and the "Three Chili Margarita" which proved too scary for any of us to try.

The entreès were where La Taqueria Feliz earned its stripes. I ordered the Enchiladas de Pollo with Mole Oaxaqueno sauce and was blown away. The tortillas, handmade in house by chef Lucio Palazzo, were stuffed to the brim with well-cooked and juicy shredded chicken. They were then bathed in a deliciously crafted mole sauce--sweet and spicy at the same time, smooth and complementary to the chicken, while not overwhelming.

 I also sampled the Brisket Al Suadero tacos coated in the famous Salsa de Arbol. The brisket was well cooked and tender, but the salsa may have been a little overwhelming. The heat was just too much to be eaten without a coolant--chef Palazzo would've done well to attach some of his smooth guacamole to the dish.

Finally, I merely witnessed consumption of the Red Snapper Enchipotlado, a well cooked piece of fish with a few sides (labeled as a "Plato Fuerte" or, "Strong plate" on the menu) like a seriously spicy corn salsa and some of La Taqueria's deliciously coated sweet plantains which we also ordered extra of as a side. It might not look awesome, but blame that on my poor iPhone photography, not the restaurant.

Overall, La Taqueria Feliz excited us. We can rarely find quality Mexican food and an exciting, hip environment without making the trek into the city, so when we can, it's quite thrilling. The most exciting part for me, is that I've only tasted one of La Taqueria's highlights: The restaurant is, arguably, better known for it's lamb barbacoa dish and its exotic "Tacos de Chapulínes" (that's grasshoppers for all you gringos). All I can say is that I can't wait to try those two when I will most certainly be going back to La Taqueria Feliz soon.