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From the overflow of MTA traffic to the cluster of fast food chains, it can be difficult to find hideaways in Union Square. The same could be said for most of midtown Manhattan, but that’s why it helps to turn attention to detail. Pay mind to the signage, Look out for entryways, Do some digging. Taco Electrico, a Mexican restaurant at the corner of Park Ave South and East 17th St, couldn’t be seen from afar, but once we passed the neon-lit signage through its glass doors, we curved our appetites and snagged some equally appetizing photography.
It has little to no exterior signage, but the newly-opened restaurant offers a warm welcome once we make our way down a staircase and into a 1,600 square foot venue, which played like an underground speakeasy with an uptempo atmosphere to match.
Beyond the work by Guadalajara artist Victoria Villasana of Notorious B.I.G., Prince, and Frida Kalo, the homage to generational icons kept strong, courtesy of a live DJ, who worked in classic ’90s hip-hop staples. Toss in their adoration for vibrant colors and plant life, and Taco Electrico proved off just a quick glance how true it remained to its social media branding.
Still, the taqueria wasn’t just aesthetics as evident by their beverage program and accompanying dining, which was perfect for sharing. Courtesy of Chef Fernando Navas, the former Nobu collaborator honed in on some classic Mexican options, adding slight variations to make them Taco Electrico’s very own. From their Esquites (sweet corn fritters with tajin, cotija cheese, chipotle mayo and lime) to their Carnitas de Panza (pork belly tacos with pickled red onion and epazote), the restaurant kept their focus on authenticity, with special attention to vegetables sourced from the neighboring Union Square Greenmarket.
Be warned to tread slowly into the menu as Taco Eletrico remained hefty on portion sizes and even sharper on speedy service. “Every time I visit Mexico City, I’m truly inspired by the diverse flavors of the street,” Navas said in a press release at the time of their grand opening. “At Taco Electrico we want everyone to enjoy tacos that have ‘high voltage’ energy, which comes down to the right combination of textures and flavors, and the integrity of fresh ingredients.”
Wondering just how the beverage program compared to its counterpart cuisine? Well, the restaurant offered a number of signature cocktails like the El Amigo Ahumado (Casamigos Mezcal fresh calamansi and agave), Hibiscus Paloma (Casamigos Blanco, grapefruit, fresh lime and hibiscus ice) and Horchata or Nada (Casamigos Reposado infused with banana and cinnamon). Plus, don’t forget the option to order Mexican and local beers and wine varieties from South America. Friday nights can be a gamble in New York City. You’re either missing atmosphere or space. Thankfully, Taco Electrico provides both — for now, at least, until Manhattan’s newest secret lets out.
Taco Electrico is currently open and accepting reservations.
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