The popularity of tacos in the US is truly a phenomenon. I’d go so far as to say they have taken the place alongside burgers and pizza as America’s favorite comfort foods, elbowing out fried chicken in the top three spots. Most taco places though are not places you want to linger – they are pretty basic in the décor and “experience” departments. Not so with new entry Tacology in Brickell City Center Centre, close to the soon to open Cinemax. We went there on a Wednesday night and the 205 seat restaurant was packed, and diners were loving it. Think modern street market with colorful painted plank tables and floors and high ceilings with self-contained sections for tacos, ceviche, desserts and a bar. It’s well worth a visit — delicious food, buzzy, and fun.
The chef, Santiago Gomez, who helms Cantina La Veinte and Tacology, has come up with a large menu. It’s
divided into starters, salads, tostadas, ceviche, tacos, and desserts. Each table has a tablet, which serves as a way of for ordering, as well as a welcome way of getting a visual sneak peak of each menu item.
Being a Mexican restaurant, we had to try Tacology’s guacamole. We opted for their seasonal variety, which added pomegranate for slight sweetness and pumpkin seeds for crunch.
Next up was a highlight – Chicharron de Queso, a large cone shaped wafer of crispy warm Gouda cheese. It’s a perfect accompaniment for one of their oversize margaritas, and for nibbling while waiting for the rest of your order. In yet another creative twist, a signature ceviche dish– one of my favorites– was heirloom tomatoes with farro, red onions, yuzu, avocado, roasted hazelnuts and cilantro. Refreshing to the palate, the unusual combo was also exciting in flavor, texture, and color – a trifecta (low cal too).
Tacos are divided into traditional and chef’s creations. We had to sample the tried and true first, so we ordered the cochinita with red onion which had a delicate smoky flavor. Next up was La Gringa, the chef’s riff on the taco pastor – roasted pork with melted cheese between two flour tortillas, and a piece of pineapple on top. It resembled a quesadilla. Tacos are served with three sauces, each with a different level of spice. with varying degrees of spice. On the mild end is the tomatillo, then comes the tatemada, which is made with chilis and tomato, and for the hearty palate there’s el diablo (the devil) with habanero and chili de arbol peppers. Cuidado (careful!).
The tacos were good, though could have been more seasoned for my tastes (granted, with my frequent trips to Mexico over the years, I have more of an appetite for spicy and well-seasoned than most; my son and a Latin friend thought the seasoning was just fine). Next time, on my list are the lobster taco – butter poached lobster with black beans, yellow rice, and creamy chipotle sauce; the rib eye, mixed mushroom taco on a blue corn tortilla; and the chilaquiles with tomatillo sauce and pulled chicken.
Desserts were another high point. Usually I find flan a little insipid. But not this…..mini round flans rested on a bed of caramel and topped with brown sugar. Another great bet was the ice cream sampler – four mini sandwiches, each with different house baked cookies – chocolate chip, double chocolate, sugar and green tea matcha. Then they are filled with vanilla or chocolate ice cream, all served on a wooden plank decorated with a baby orchid. OMG. Delicious.
Besides a well curated selection of margaritas and cocktails, for those desiring no alcohol or just to get their vitamins by drinking them, there is a solid selection of blended juices, ranging from green, beet and carrot to cactus and the famous La Horchata made with coconut water, dates and pecans.
Tacology offers indoor and outdoor seating. Though there’s music and a large sports screen, we didn’t find any noise problem for conversation (and, as I mentioned the place was full inside). Service was friendly and attentive.
Starters average $10; salads, tostadas and ceviches, $12; Tacos $7-$10.50 (most two to an order) and cocktails $12.
Happy hour is offered Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., and include half price on classic margaritas, beers and wine. For reservations call 786-347-5368.