It isn’t very often that I review a place that is little more than a fast food restaurant. El Paisano is worth it though. Mexican/Latin American food is by far my favorite cuisine. But this taqueria y pupuseria really shines.
I ordered one each: beef-asada, chicharron, and chorizo tacos and a pupusa. What’s a pupusa? It is a traditional Salvadorian dish that is a cross between a quesadilla, empanada, and flaming cheese (note: not the greasy fried cheese appetizer you can find at any bar, but flaming cheese – like the Greek appetizer, but lacking the lemon-y acidic flavor). It was my first experience eating a pupusa, now I am definitely a fan.
And the tacos? First, they are small – only slightly larger than a silver dollar. This is okay as you only pay $1.25 per taco. The only way to get a taco at that price is either to have the quality of Taco Bell (or lack thereof) or reduce the size. The chicharron was my least favorite – perhaps I was spoiled by the incredible chicharron dish served at Irazu in Chicago, but I found this to be slightly fattier than I like but still pretty good. The chorizo taco was good, but not as spicy as I would like. Finally, the beef-asada taco was an outstanding traditional street taco, one that I have been looking for since trying de cero in Chicago six years ago.
El Paisano gets bonus points for its salsa bar – multiple salsas to choose from, plus jalapeños and cilantro. The accompanying chips were only okay – I typically like my chips light and airy (and greasy and salty) – these were none of those, but I recognize that others may have different tastes.
I’ve been looking for traditional street tacos for six years (and disappointingly, didn’t find it at last year’s Taco Fest in Denver), but I’ve finally found them at El Paisano. It also introduced me to an incredible new food – a pupusa. Still don’t go to El Paisano expecting large tacos (even the pupusa wasn’t very large). You will need to order several tacos just to fill up – though, the price is more than reasonable, it is a downright bargain. I paid less than $10 for my meal (including a drink) – less than what I pay at Chipotle or any other Mexican fast food joint.
WWYT Rating: 8.3