Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CLOSED La Taco in Samcheongdong by Lauren McPhate

La taco in Samcheongdong
by Lauren McPhate

When Dan told me a new taco place had opened in Insadong I was instantly intrigued.  I’ve tried Los Amigos, Taco Taco, On the Border (a favorite happy hour jaunt back in DC), and Dos Tacos in several locations, and I find it’s ok but it’s just not the same as home, and you generally have to go pretty far out of your way to find it.  I find it’s expensive for the portion size, too.  Shouldn’t there be leftovers?? Not to mention overflowing amounts of guacamole?  And cilantro?  Remember cilantro?  So on a rainy Sunday afternoon I made my way up to Insadong to try out the newest of the tacorrias.

You find La Taco in a cute little alley filled with coffee shops and restaurants.  It has a sweet little sign tempting you to come in.  Once inside, you’re not disappointed at your dining decision.  It looks like a cute café right out of New York.  Checkered black and white tiles, paper lanterns, and hats ranging from sombreros to cowboy hats adorn the walls.   Even though it doesn’t scream Mexican, it does have a cool hipster feel.  It’s definitely somewhere you’d like to hang out.  There’s even a small bar in the front if you want to pop in for a drink or two.
La Taco's Cute Interior
My date Paul and I sit at a rustic table and I immediately notice the Japanese bowl on the table.  I open it and find 3 Bally chocolates.  Nothing wrong with that.  Now that I think about it, every restaurant should have a bowl of chocolates out on the table.  We are instantly attended to even though there are numerous other tables in the restaurant.  It is clear there is only one waitress, but she was attentive from the first second we walked in.  We go over the menu and although it’s small, it covers the bases; tacos, burritos, enchiladas, salads and soups.  Each with a choice or veggie, chicken or beef.  My date and I each order a lunch set.  I go for the taco set; salad + veggie taco + drink, and he gets the enchilada set; salad + beef enchilada + drink.  And we order a margarita to share.  We’re at a taco place, how could we not get one??

Let’s start with the margarita.  Big fail.  For 9,000 won you get a martini glass filled with shaved ice and what I can only guess was Chilsing Cider and tequila.  You seriously call this a margarita?  It was almost undrinkable so I left that to Paul to finish.  To be fair, they did have very reasonably priced beers on the menu, but we didn’t go there.  First came the salad.  I got the seafood and Paul got the chicken.  It was a nice starter.  They were basically the same salad; greens and some veggies covered with either shrimp or chicken.  Then came the entree.  My taco was very tasty, although I don’t think I would call it a taco.  It was a veggie wrap.  There were onions, lettuce, veggies, cheese and sour cream wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.  Very nice, but not quite a taco.  We also got a side of guacamole for 2,000 won.  It was a tiny portion and wasn’t good at all.  It tasted like one of those pre-made packets you buy from Costco.  Ew.  Paul’s enchilada was almost laughable.  Clearly the chef hasn’t tasted Western Mexican food.   It consisted of a soft tortilla with beef, rice and some veggies.  It was spiced with what tasted like Tabasco sauce, and then it was all covered in marinara sauce and cheese.  Again, it was good, just not Mexican.  Not quite sure what you call that.  Fusion?  After we finished the waitress brought us our drink selections of horchatas.  They were tasty and a nice finish to the meal.

La Taco's Bulgogi Taco
All in all it was good food, just not quite what you expect at a place called La Taco. And for a 40,000 won lunch (stupid margarita), it was a bit expensive for something you probably could have gotten at Paris Baguette. I did notice all of the tables around us were ordering patbingsu. I think next time I go, and I would go again, I would order dessert and go more for the atmosphere than the tacos.

La Taco
Mexican Fusion/cafe/bar
Location: Samcheongdong
Directions: Go out Anguk Station Exit 1 and make a right at the first main intersection. Walk straight, make a left when the road veers. La Taco is on the left.
English Spoken