Alex Stupak had enjoyed success as a pasty chef at groundbreaking haunts such as Alinea and, more recently, WD-50, so his announcement that he would open a Mexican joint was understandably met with great buzz around these parts. Last night was the official opening night of his new place, dubbed Empellón, so I wandered over tonight to try it out.
had read that griddled head cheese tacos might be on offer, but they were not on the menu tonight. It's just as well, because I had my heart set on the lamb barbacoa tacos, as well as the beer braised tongue tacos. It was all I could do to not order the Chicharon plate, resisting the head cheese as well would have proved overpowering to my resolve I am sure. Those items will live until another day when I shall return to eat them. Tonight's menu had plenty of good looking items to choose from.
Mustering all my will power to avoid ordering the Chicharon plate (labeled "for the table", so it would be harder to justify), I ordered a plate of each of the barbacoa and tongue tacos. Despite an early indication that the tacos might be sold individually, for the time being at least the are sold by the plate with three tacos, no mixing and matching. This policy of course is perfectly understandable for a young restaurant still finding its footing, no need to overly complicate things. The barbacoa tacos arrived first, with green olives and I believe cotija cheese. While they lacked the visceral lusciousness I enjoyed in the Texas hill country gas station barbacoa, the flavor was good and the lamb was a nice twist. While I would have preferred a bit more fat and rendered connective tissue, these were enjoyable nonetheless. I'm not sure if one could even source enough lamb heads around here to get enough off cut meat for the number of tacos they will probably serve. I would be remiss if I did not mention the top notch tortillas here as well.
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