Chow Bella

Cafe: Taberna Mexicana

It takes some serious huevos to open a restaurant specializing in Mexican food in the Valley. Every variation on this, the most delicious of ethnic cuisines, must be present already, right? Think again muchacho.

This week's Cafe column argues that there's a new restaurant giving the Mexican food scene in Phoenix a run for its money.

Food Critic Michele Laudig on Taberna Mexicana:

The must-try tres picaditas, a trio of tender, doughy masa boats (similar to sopes), were mouthwatering with braised pork carnitas, avocado, onion, cilantro crema and crumbled queso on top. And plump shrimp, sizzled in garlic butter with spicy chiles, were memorable with bacon pico de gallo.

A choice of homemade flour or corn tortillas was the highlight of Taberna's taco platters. However, what I had fell quite short of greatness -- perfectly cooked filet mignon tacos, drizzled with chipotle mayo, were lukewarm by the time they made it to my table, while scallop and pork belly tacos seemed strangely bland and dry. Was there any actual sea urchin in their exotic-sounding aioli? I've eaten enough raw sea urchin to detect its distinctive, otherworldly sweetness, and this creamy goo didn't have one iota of urchin. On paper, anyway, these tacos could've been a standout item...full story

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Jonathan McNamara