I’m actually not mad that National Taco Day didn’t fall on a Tuesday this year – because then it didn’t take away from my weekly moment to indulge in my taco obsession. Today’s taco feasting is at Plaza Pastor – Casa Pastor’s outdoor counterpart – in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London.
Serving up the same tasty taco dishes and excellent, if not a little dangerous, margaritas and mezcal, Plaza Pastor also offers a covered seating space – meaning, come rain or shine, guests who would prefer to sit outside in the fresh air are able to do so. I’m one of those people who believes that a meal is barely Mexican if it doesn’t start off with freshly-made guacamole and tortilla chips (there’s no alternate opinion here, by the way) and I also quite enjoy matching my food to my drinks to bring on a couple of those avocado and passionfruit frozen margaritas and the meal is off to an excellent start.
Upon my first visit ever to El Pastor (the restaurant’s first branch in London Bridge), I had a euphoric experience eating, probably, the best tuna toastadas I’d ever eaten. Three years later, sat in what is two tequilas away from being my Mexican cabana, I’m still a fan and those tuna tostadas will never fail to be part of my order. I think what I love most about them, aside from the beautiful flavour, is the amount of tuna loaded onto each tostada – absolute committment to getting as much on a small surface as possible and none of this fobbing you off with two pieces of tuna and calling it a dish. I’m here for this.
Tacos next. Again, I kind of stick to what I know here: the sharing taco boards at Plaza Pastor are a must. The 12-hour braised short rib is another frequent order – dusted in a Chipotle-muscovada-coriander seed rub and served with pickled red onion, salsa and spiced sugar. Do not think of doing anything but adding on the bone marrow and you can thank me later for the explosion of flavours and textures that hit your mouth.
The cochnita pibil (slow-roast, free-range pork shoulder) is marinated in orange, achiote and charred garlic and is a sold eight for me; served with red onion-habanero escabeche, it’s definitely spicy in more way than one. For those trying to cut down on the meat and for those who know that fish tacos are simply the best, the ‘contramar’ seabream is chargrilled to perfection, making it the perfect filling for the warm tortillas that keep on coming to the table. Plaza Pastor don’t believe in giving you hardships like choices so they marinate one side of the seabream in salsa roja and the other in mojo verde because, here, you really do get the best of both worlds. You might have to choose your sharing board, however, as these are suited to two to four people and even in a group of four, we struggled. That being said, I also feel I have a bottomless pit for a stomach when it comes to tacos, in particular, and your girl here hates to see food waste on her watch.
The baja (beer-battered pollock) and the crispy fried soft shell crab are excellent contenders but, somehow, I truly struggle to look elsewhere but the sharing plates section of the menu. Ordering a side dish might slip your mind but try to remmeber to get some of the esquites: beautifully toasted, buttered corn with queso and jalapeño chilli. Plaza Pastor elevates the humble Mexican streetside snack favourite, leaving this dish one you’ll be fighting over at the table.
Tacos – 0, Amira – 1 and I’ve devoured the food (helped to be washed down by a few more of those frozen margaritas). Now you’re probably thinking this is where I tell you the story of me waddling home but we’ve still got dessert to come. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; THERE IS A SEPARATE STOMACH FOR DESSERT. I will not be challeneged on this one, okay? The bounty bar and chocolate and mole tart both sound divine but despite being a ‘chocolate, forever’ kind of girl, the corn cake has my name written all over it. Sweet, sticky and glazed and served with homemade roasted corn ice cream, this one you won’t want to share. Final margarita of the night saw me switch it up to the spicy mango margarita which was better suited to the choice of pudding but comes second to my dangerous love that is the avocado and passionfruit flavour. Right, Amira out.