By Ada Toro
Fashionistas, influencers, and foodies alike are in the hunt for Instagrammable spots to start off their 2019 news feed right. I figured a great way to start the new year was by having tacos because nothing ever goes wrong when you have a couple of tacos in hand. I then thought to myself, “what place can be hip, instagrammable, and serve tacos and Mexican cuisine that’ll be a bang for your buck?”. The light bulb in my brain flashed once I came across Taco Electrico’s Instagram account.
Located right in the heart of Union Square in the underground portion of the W hotel, lies Taco Electrico. Taco Electrico is owned and operated by Gerber Group, a hospitality industry leader that persists to reformulate the hospitality industry with cutting-edge dining concepts and bars that feature acclaimed beverage programs guided by phenomenal culinary talents. Gerber Group named the restaurant Taco Electrico because they wanted to create a name that channeled the creative energy and electricity that comes with the art, music, cuisine and nightlife scenes of the world’s most spirited cities that the restaurant is inspired by - Mexico City and New York City. The vibrant name, just like the vibrant space, evokes good vibes only. And tacos, of course, said a Gerber Group representative.
“Gerber Group owns the venue and it was time to bring it to life,” said a representative at Gerber Group. “We wanted to bring a casual taqueria and bar to the neighborhood and knew the vibrant lights and eye-popping décor would brighten up the underground space.”
To get into Taco Electrico, I went through the side entrance on East 17th Street and Park Avenue, which was dandy because it felt as if my guest and I were going into some secret yet exclusive place in New York. When walking in, you’ll immediately notice the name of the restaurant in an LED light in the lobby as well as the whole entrance illuminated by pink lights till you walk down the stairs. Once you walk down the stairs, there will be a coat check area and restrooms, just like a nightclub. Pass this area and the hostesses are there waiting to seat you down. Behind them, there is a DJ Booth.
The décor was a collaboration between Gerber Group and Fun People.
“We sought to create a space that would transport guests to a warm, fun, feel-good mood,” said a representative at Gerber Group. “With vibrant neon and LED light pieces, rattan porch swings, and one-of-a-kind embroidered portraits by Guadalajara artist, Victoria Villasana, the space is welcoming for birthday parties, group dining, unique dates and all in between.”
In the restaurant space, you’ll find embroidered portraits of rap music legend Biggie Smalls, 80’s pop star Prince, Mohammud Ali, and Frida Kalo. Luckily, I got to sit under an LED light piece that read ‘She’s Electric’ and was also next to the rattan porch swings which I couldn’t resist swinging on.
The mastermind behind the cuisine at Taco Electrico is Executive Chef Fernando Navas.
“Some of my family is from Oaxaca, and I have been visiting Mexico City since I was a kid,” said Navas. “Over the years, I have fallen in love with Mexico City’s food, people and culture.
The strong connection Navas made with Mexico City assisted him with creating the menu at Taco Electrico. He believed the idea was to be truthful with the traditional flavors, but add a creative twist to the dishes.
Prior to ordering food, the waiter served chips and an out of this world salsa for my guest and me to munch on while we skimmed through the menu. We ordered a Quesadilla de Pollo to start our eating extravaganza, which contains chicken, Oaxaca cheese, kale, and mole poblano you can dip the quesadilla slice into. I would consume this quesadilla on a daily basis if it were up to me due to the fact that it mainly consisted of protein-based items such as chicken and kale which was hearty and satisfying. Not to mention that Oaxaca cheese is creamy white and moderately soft. This was the first time I’ve ever had a quesadilla with kale and it certainly won’t be the last.
Once we were done with the quesadilla, we ordered some tacos from the menu. The tacos we ordered were the Carnitas de Panza, Chicken Tinga, Queso Frito, Arrachera, and the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Taco. The Carnitas de Panza taco contained pork belly, pickled red onion, and salsa verde, which made the tacos mouthwatering.
“I love our Carnitas Tacos at Taco Electrico,” said Navas. “Making the carnitas for this taco is a labor of love, and a three-step process. First, we cure the pork for 24 hours with salt and spices, then we confit it with pork butter, and finally we roast it on high heat in our brick oven. We serve the Carnitas Taco with salsa verde, white onion, fresh cilantro and chicharron on top. It’s amazing and one of our most popular tacos.
The Chicken Tinga was very savory and contained chipotle, avocado, and pickled onions. The Queso Frito was interesting because this taco contained a piece of fried cheese, black beans, pickled carrots, and cilantro. The Arrachera taco had skirt steak, adobo, and pico de gallo which of course was juicy because you cannot go wrong with skirt steak topped with some refreshing pico de gallo. Lastly, the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Taco was an attractive taco because the miniature sized fried egg on top of the avocado, beans, bacon, and cheese was so small yet delectable. The taco was very filling because all of the ingredients in this specific taco were substantial. We accompanied our tacos with some frozen margaritas because there is no better way to have Mexican food than by pairing the two together. The margaritas were refreshing and sweet.
Aside from the decor, the vibe was very ‘chill’, as millennials say. The music was varied as tunes by Prince, De La Soul, and Big Pun were played. Salsa music by El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico was played as well. The music symbolizes New York at its finest because Hip Hop and Salsa are major genres played in the Big Apple.
Indeed, if you are in the hunt for some innovative Mexican food, good music, and an instagrammable spot, then you should pay Taco Electrico a visit.