"The much-buzzed about new Mexican restaurant from Grüner chef and owner Chris Israel. Located just down the street from his excellent German restaurant, at the corner of SW 12th and Washington (the former Pinot space), the decor is splashy, modern, and pleasant, with pretty multicolored tile tabletops and tree-stump stools on the "cantina" side, which was where we had hoped there would be a happy hour. No such luck, but we decided to give it a whirl anyway, lured by the $3 tacos del día and $6 margaritas.
I started out with a $3 shot of nice blanco and an oyster shooter, which came with a sliver of pickled jalapeño to... make it seem Mexican I guess. Both were nice little appetizers, and I felt proud of myself for cherry-picking such cost-effective prizes off a menu that really runs the gamut of price points (even though they only serve a cantina-specific menu, I took a look at the dinner menu as well. It looks delicious, though the fish dish I would have wanted to order was $28. You could easily get out of there for less, though, and they are threatening to start lunch service, which I assume will offer more modest pricing.). Between the five people in our party, all taco styles were consumed (including shrimp tacos, a menu item I wish I saw more often around town), but the consensus was that Robo Taco's are still the ones to beat.
I upped my drink order for round two—another shot of tequila that came with a hibiscus-orange juice back. The small vial of this magical elixir was the most impressive thing out of the entire experience. Spiced up (I'm guessing with habañero), I wished I had a pint glass of the fruity-spicy mix, and next time I'm in I'll for sure try to score a cocktail in which it features prominently. I also nutted up and—even though I suspected it was a trap—ordered the caesar salad, which at $11 is one of the pricier things on the cantina menu. Now I've had caesar salads that are passably worth $11, and they are abundant things, with remarkable, artfully shaven artisanal cheese, whole fillets of sardines, zingy, garlicky, decadent dressing, croutons whose previous life as a freshly baked baguette is only thinly disguised, and maybe some kind of wild surprise like a couple of cherry tomatoes or something. At that price the option of a salmon topper would not be remiss.
Needless to say, ordering that salad was the stupidest thing I did all weekend, including during Saturday's epic girls' night out, which is saying quite a lot. For $11 I purchased five (maybe six?) leaves of romaine (which were, at least, very crisp and fresh) over which was strewn modest shreddings of parmesan that looked and tasted exactly like those pre-shredded varieties that come in plastic tubs and are located next to semi-instant packages of tortellini at the grocery store. The dressing was okay, I think, but so thinly applied that it was nearly imperceptible, and the whole thing was crowned by three—count 'em—three croutons. I am a sucker. But seriously, Corazón, if you are reading this: Either make that a $6 item or make it more substantial. As it stands it's just angering." MARJORIE SKINNER
Thu., Aug. 23, 6 p.m. 2012