Impala Cantina y Taqueria

When my happy hour plans were thrown for a loop tonight, I settled on tacos and Impala has been in the back of my mind for a while. Greater than four stars on Yelp? Check. I can bike there? Check check. Not a total diet-buster? Okay, sign me up!

Drinks look fabulous. Most of the people at the bar are drinking enormous frozen margaritas with Coronas tipped upside-down into them. I don’t know what has gone wrong in your life that this beverage choice seems like a good idea. I’m pretty sure that this is what rock-bottom looks like, maybe like half a step above drinking out of a paper bag while sitting on the curb. My husband ordered a big Impala margarita and I got the habanero-clementine margarita.

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This picture makes the size disparity look much larger than it actually was. In reality, the left was the correct size margarita and the right one was maybe twice as correct. The Impala was standard but too sweet. The habanero-clementine was not even a little spicy but it was fruity and refreshing.

We sprung for the huarache appetizer. I thought my husband would want the elote loco but he dubbed it “too unhealthy.” I’m not sure in what universe corn and mayo is too unhealthy but this monstrosity seems like a decent option:

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That’s a full-size plate. I have to hand it to them with this: the pork belly was intensely crispy (although with a few inedibly fatty bits), the tortilla was thick and still crispy, and pickled red onion is always a winner. And I guess this had lettuce so it’s healthy, right? RIGHT?! I’m glad we didn’t order our tacos until after this arrived because the sheer volume of food led us to downsize our entree.

We wanted some fun, different stuff, so ordered three tacos. From left to right: “chorizo,” lamb, and chicken.

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There’s no way to describe this that will be flattering, so I’ll just say what I want to say. This was just not good, full stop. My one compliment is that the lamb was particularly tender, and I knew I was taking a risk ordering it. On the other hand, ordering chorizo should never be a risk. Whole Foods, the goddamn whitest place in the universe, can produce a rock-solid chorizo that packs heat (and they even have a chicken chorizo that I successfully passed off as pork and my husband never noticed–shhhhh!) And yet Impala, like its slightly-worse cousin Sol across the street, for some reason insists on putting some unseasoned, crumbled up ground pork on a tortilla. Beto O’Rourke is more Mexican than this chorizo. The chicken taco on the right was similarly bland. My final complaint is that all three of these were topped with cotija, cilantro, and radish. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but the toppings should be tailored to the flavors of the protein. Maybe the problem was the proteins had no flavor.

Price: $25 per person.

Bottom line: The only reason I’m not labeling Impala with the “Just Don’t” tag is that they were saved by the huaraches. Impala, if you’re reading this: someone please walk the seven blocks to Whole Foods and buy some decent sausage.

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