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Empellon Al Pastor

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I can’t hide the lust in my heart for Empellon Al Pastor. I’ve had a bone in my pocket for Chef Alex Stupak’s latest venture since watching his segment on Real Food with Mike Colameco last month and reading all those Eater articles.

Stupak has worked some amazing kitchens, like the late great WD-50 in New York and the other-worldly Alinea in Chicago. So who could guess the latest move by this molecular gastronomist would be an elevated Mexican dive bar in the East Village?

I start with the house Michelada; serrano chiles, reposado tequila, agave nectar and Mexicali beer. I’m not much for beer, but stir this up and you’ve got something special – an umani beer experience that pairs perfectly with tacos and guacamole.

I followed that up with a variant attributed to Chef Wyle Dufresne called the Michelote. This one was made with corn powder, Malta Goya, Ponzu, and Negra Modelo. I was thinking about it for weeks afterwards, but my girl didn’t dig it at all. She liked her cider beer, though, and the guacamole they make by pushing avocados through a grate. Their guacamole is not overly mixed or unduly seasoned, just an honest side dish with crisp house made tortillas.

My plan, executed to perfection, was to eat too many tacos. We ordered at least two or three Al Pastors, which, if there was any justice in the world, would be doing Cronut numbers. To make these, pork shoulder steaks are rubbed with chile before being spit roasted shawarma-style, sliced thin, layered on a soft corn tortilla with a piece of pineapple, and tastefully garnished with salsa and onion.

My plan, executed to perfection, was to eat too many tacos.

Neck and neck with these are the Shortrib Tacos with Maggi Onions. I could eat these on repeat until I flat-lined. There are worse ways to go.

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I could eat these on repeat until I flat-lined. There are worse ways to go.

I’ve said it before, but if tongue is on the menu, my girl is putting it in her mouth. We both dug the succulent Beer Braised Pork Tongue tacos, as well as the Chorizo and Bistec variants. Yeah, we ate a lot of tacos – all served on fresh homemade soft corn tortillas made using the Nixtamalization technique where field corn is ground into masa for tortillas every day.

They’ve got a hamburger taco, a few vegetarian choices, as well as chicken wings, nachos, drunken black beans, and other cool sides. I’ve got to start making my way though the menu, including their Tequillas and Mezcal. And of course, there’s an array of Margaritas for you Sex in the City types.

Pull up a stool by the window and watch the lower east side unravel before your drunken eyes. Life is short; eat tacos.

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