So I'm a bit overdue on this one. I had brunch with Lindsay the Lunch Belle two Sundays ago and I didn't get a chance to post about it. My sincere apologies.
I love Mexican food, but Lindsay is something of a Mexican-food connoisseur, so I trusted her judgement when she suggested El Paso Taqueria for brunch. I have never heard of this place, but sometimes, that's the best way to a great meal. We started out with a couple of glasses of Horchata, a wonderfully smooth, cold rice milk concoction with cinnamon. It looks like skim milk, so if you see people drinking something like this in a Mexican restaurant, don't be grossed out (like I was initially), because chances are, it's a sweet and refreshing glass of this good stuff..
I cannot go to a Mexican restaurant without the following: chips, salsa, and guacamole. I just can't do it. Or better yet, I REFUSE to do it. El Paso Taqueria's salsa was really good; nice and spicy, and not thick or chunky. Maybe I'm weird, but I actually prefer a thinner, homemade salsa as opposed to the really chunky kinds in restaurants, yet at home, I buy the chunky style ones. Go figure. Onto the guacamole. Beautiful, ripe avocados with onion, tomatoes and cilantro (the ONE time I can handle cilantro is in Mexican food) are served in a molcajete and the presentation just said "eat me." So we did. There was, however, one major problem with the guac: total lack of salt. Guacamole is one of those things that really needs some s&p. Fortunately, this was an easy fix: salt shaker + a few shakes on top of guac = perfection.
I don't like to count guacamole as an appetizer because like I said, it's just necessary and should always be there. The way Italians put out bread and olive oil gratis at every meal, the Mexicans should put out chips and guac. So we chose to order another appetizer, the Queso Fundido con Rajas, which is simply melted monterey jack and Muenster cheese (yes, Muenster!) swirled around with onions and green chile peppers. Mmmm. Can you ever go wrong with melted cheese in a bowl? Not really. It was really good at first, but there were two things I didn't like: the cheese got a little hard after a while (making it difficult to dip), and again, there was a lack of salt here. El Paso Taqueria must be watching it's blood pressure or something. So after I added some salt, me and Lindsay decided to forgo the chip-dipping attempts and just make little corn tortilla-queso-fundido-tacos out of it. When in Mexico…do as the Mexicans do.
Another staple of mine when I eat Mexican is fajitas or some kind of taco/burrito thing. However, I told myself that this was still BRUNCH and I'm going to order something eggy. What's eggy and Mexican? Duh. Huevos Rancheros. A huge plate arrived at my side with two, big over-easy eggs covered in a spicy salsa ranchera sauce, with a side of rice and black beans, and a nice strip of Cotija cheese floating atop the burnt sienna-colored sauce. The sauce was really good, and it didn't need salt! Maybe because it had so much spice? Either way, it was quite tasty, especially when you break the yolk and let it seep out onto the plate to infiltrate the rice..mmm. That's a good bite right there.
El Paso Taqueria is a little off the beaten path on 97th street between Park and Madison, but I think it was well worth the trip. Not crowded, friendly atmosphere and good cooking is worth a little hike any day. And the prices are reasonable too (Huevos Rancheros, $6.95; enchiladas, $8.95). Only thing it's missing is a dash of salt.