Assault & Pepper 09/10/2013

Assault & Pepper 09/10/2013

REVIEW: HUAHUA’S TAQUERIA

Lately, I’ve been having such a taco moment. Something about the warm, soft tortillas enveloping freshly grilled fish, tangy lime juice, and crunchy, vinegar-based slaw just warms my innards and satisfies every textural and flavor desire my taste buds could want. When I heard that Todd Erickson, mastermind behind Haven’s deliciously playful menu (think: grilled cheese skewers with tomato soup sauce), was opening a taco shop, I knew thatHuahua’s Taqueria would be fun, filled with adorable trinkets, and my new go-to spot for unique tacos. Little did I know that it would be the side dishes and fresh fruit margaritas that would keep me coming back. The open kitchen takes up a majority of the indoor space, save a large hot sauce display, available for both topping your tacos and purchase. Colorful pinatas and neon-scribbled chalkboards adorn the walls, adding to the funky and inviting atmosphere. Huahua’s has plenty of outdoor seating (read: insufficient indoor seating), complete with umbrellas and fans to temporarily distract you from the brutal humidity, and water bowls and treats to satisfy the pups in your life.   Oh, and there’s a pineapple wearing sunglasses {see below}.

HH1HH wall

The counter-ordering adds to the restaurant’s casual vibe, but the impressive menu boasts a range of gourmet dishes like grilled veggie and fried avocado tacos, charred mushroom tacos with spicy tofu crema, and BBQ short rib tacos with pickled jalapeno.  Huahua’s even has a breakfast taco, with cheesy eggs, carnitas, pork green chili, hash browns.

The margarita bases are fresh fruit purees, and the flavors change daily. The consistency was simultaneously icy and creamy. Just look at that gorgeous strawberry and lime swirl goin’ on. It was a thing of beauty. Be warned: the margs are strong. Todd is not about to serve up weak cocktails, its just not who he is.  And I love him for it.

HH drink

I started with the grilled Mexican sweet corn. Honestly, my first thought was “meh, corn.” It was seriously one of the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth. Sweet, charred corn, fresh cilantro sprigs, smoky seasonings, and crumbly cheese melted slightly by the warm corn.  It is the perfect snack and, in my opinion, the best thing on the menu. Plus, its on a stick. Order it.

Elote: Grilled Mexican Sweet Corn

Elote: Grilled Mexican Sweet Corn

Be still, my chubby little heart. Todd managed to make queso, the most melty, salty, deliciousness you could ever dip a tortilla chip into, better by adding tubular spiralini pasta. The cheese oozed into the noodles’ crevices, making it a perfectly addicting side dish. You may neglect your tacos for this spicy mac and cheese, but it is worth it.

Queso Mac & Cheese

Queso Mac & Cheese

Now, the pièce de résistance: tacos.  The fried chicken tacos were crisp, hot, and topped with little crunchy cornbread nuggets. The fried chicken batter was awesome. It rivaled a Publix chicken finger (if you’re from South Florida, you know that is the highest fried chicken compliment one can receive). The cabbage and cilantro added freshness, and the creamy ancho ranch dressing tied it all together. The flour tortilla wrapped it up into a neat, little Southern-inspired package.

Fried Chicken: jalapeño cornbread, cabbage, ancho ranch

Fried Chicken: jalapeño cornbread, cabbage, ancho ranch

The crispy pescado taco was unlike any other fish taco I’ve eaten.  I appreciated the lack of standard tempura batter in exchange for a crispy cornmeal crust, drizzled with a mild jalapeno tartar sauce.  I almost preferred the fish without the tortilla because it was so tasty on its own. Obviously, a squeeze of lime juice over the fish makes everything better. I’d definitely order this again, but would likely eat it with my fingers. The chili rubbed shrimp taco {to the right} came topped with jicama, lime, cilantro, and spicy mayo. The spicy, smoky shrimp literally popped in my mouth. So fresh, well-seasoned, and perfectly grilled. I loved, loved, loved the julienned strips of jicama against the soft shrimp, but the crispy pescado still reigned as my favorite.

Crispy Pescado: papaya pico, cabbage, jalapeño tartar

Crispy Pescado: papaya pico, cabbage, jalapeño tartar and Chili Rubbed Shrimp: jicama, lime, cilantro, spicy mayo

I finished the meal with a cookies & cream paleta {not pictured}. Imagine an Oreo McFlurry frozen into a popsicle. Hello, lover.  It was even better than it sounds. Three tacos, two sides, and two ridiculous frozen margaritas later, I left Huahua’s, palleta dripping down my hand, walked right passed my car, and around Lincoln Road for an hour because the margaritas are silent killers.  My new favorite lunch spot.

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