Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Holy Taco: Taco Nirvana?

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Lindsey and I finally made a pilgrimage to the Holy Taco. Despite a name straight out of a Monty Python feature, this casual taqueria located in hipster-tastic East Atlanta Village features a large front patio that is an inviting place to enjoy a cold beer and lunch while gawking at bearded, vintage-clothed passersby.

Chef Robert Phalen (whom you may recall as the runner-up in AT's Hottest Chef competition) has assembled a menu that mixes standard taqueria fare with some more offbeat items that you won't see at your local Chipotle. That said, we started off with a staple of Tex-Mex restaurants, guac and chips.
Guacamole and tortilla chips
The guacamole was fresh, had a great texture and just the right level of spiciness. The tortilla chips were thick yet flaky and, as usual, I ate far too many of them. I followed the guac and chips up with a fairly average tasting calamari tapas.

For the main event, I went for something safe and something a little more daring. Safety first: the steak taco was tender and seasoned just the right amount and topped with a little Cotija cheese. On the other hand, the chicken hearts taco was not all I had hoped for. While the hearts were nicely fried and reasonably tender (for organ meat), they didn't provide much in the way of flavor. Steak and chicken heart tacos

Also at the table were three other tacos: beef brisket, shredded pork and shrimp. Lindsey loved the shrimp taco (it was the only one she finished, thanks to the generous portions) while I really liked the beef brisket. Both the pork and the brisket were tender and flavorful, but the brisket had a special taste, perhaps some tomato in the sauce, that I found to be particularly delicious. Next time I'm there, it's a must-order.brisket, pork and shrimp tacos
Accompanying the tacos were two ears of grilled corn. Typically prepared with a coating of a creamy mix of mayo and Cojita cheese, I have yet to find a preparation of elote asado that I didn't like. While not quite as good as The Original El Taco's off-the-cob version of the dish, Holy Taco's was still very good and easy enough to eat by grasping the peeled-back husk and continually dipping the ear into the generous supply of Cojita-laced mayo.elote asada

As for drinks, I was pleased to find that Oberon, my favorite brew from Kalamazoo, Michigan's Bell's Brewery, was available on tap, though I was a bit disappointed that the requisite orange slice was not available (I practically minored in Oberon in my college days). Lindsey loved her white sangria, which she found to pack a bit more punch than your typical sangria.

All told, Holy Taco may be just a bit short of nirvana for taco lovers, but it shortcomings are not significant and I recommend a visit, preferably when the weather is nice. It’s a good excuse to experience a really cool part of Atlanta, and very importantly, it's a fun place to eat. While there are a lot of great taco places around Atlanta, including some impressive new entries, Holy Taco holds its own.
Holy Taco
1314 Glenwood Avenue



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