Paraíso Taquería and Mezcalería

Nobody actually remembers how we found out about this. Was it me? Did my husband tell me? Everything was hazy after the mezcal, ngl. Here’s the point though: we ate a meal inside a restaurant. Inside. A. Restaurant. Thank you, science! And better–my MIL and FIL got to come too; our first meal with them since Thanksgiving!

Needless to say, this was very exciting, and I’m glad we picked a new, exciting spot to reunite. The space is the beautiful restaurant that was formerly Emilie’s. Right away, we started with drinks (all mezcal cocktails) and chips and salsa.

Left to right: my husband’s mezcal Manhattan (herbal, bitter, light smoke and spice), my FIL’s flor de luna (strong but surprisingly not a ton of the Laphroaig flavor came through), my MIL’s standard margarita (impossible to mess up), and my [not to scale, please don’t worry for my liver] La Mula, which just feels like something I should be drinking in the jungle treehouse in Belize where we got married. So far, so good. The chips and salsa are also recommended–fresh chips with tangy salsa verde, a big pot of smoky dip, and a spicy roja.

There are many things on the menu here. Dare I say…too many? Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming. But my husband and I finally decided to share the octopus entree plus two plates of tacos: the la vaca and the lechón. My in-laws both ordered quesadillas, along with a side of plantains, because there’s nothing this meal needed more than more carbs, I guess?

The pulpo was one thicccc tentacle, very crispy but a little too gummy on the fat end. It had a delicious spice and came with one perfectly griddled nopal paddle, tomatillo salsa, and those gorgeous golden tomatoes. This is a complete meal, but a meal for people with no food texture issues whatsoever! Do you like slimy foods? They got you!

The vaca tacos (vacos?) were small–I definitely recommend splitting several plates with a cute boy. The meat was delicious but the overall taco was a little on the dry side. I still highly recommend.

Sadly, the lechón tacos were forgotten. It was probably for the best because we still walked away the right level of satisfied. I wish I could have tried them but NBD. This will not be the last opportunity.

I had the pleasure of trying my father-in-law’s carne asada quesadilla. It was huge, on a beautiful fancy tortilla with plenty of cheese and tender grilled meat. I don’t think I’d order one for myself because quesadillas just remind me of something you cook when you are a) very drunk at 2 a.m., b) trying to stop a toddler from screaming, or c) both. But I’m sure it would please the quesadilla lover/drunkard/three year-old in your life.

That brings to dessert, as well as “dessert.” The law of tres leches said that I must order tres leches, and after consulting the server, who declared it a “nine out of ten,” that was settled. Paraíso is a legit mezcal bar and thus had roughly thirty mezcals on the menu. Don’t quote me on this, but they may have even more than Espita. And when you love mezcal and you want to know mezcal but you know literally nothing about mezcal, you need a flight and you need someone to talk you through it. Fortunately, Paraíso has one of those things! We ordered one of their two flights and received generous pours of the three bottles seen here. The middle one, Los Vecinos del Campo Tobala was the overall winner from the three of us who participated in blind side-by-side tasting, but none of us know why. I would love to see them put together a real flight program or mini tasting notes or hire a mezcal sommelier (sommeliero?) to educate our ignorant asses.

And lest I forget, the tres leches. In some cases, I am a woman of simple tastes. This is one of those cases. Cake + milk + whipped cream is the best dessert of all time, hands down, and there’s no need to make it fancy. In fact, please make it un-fancy. I want that baby sagging in the middle with the weight of mil leches. I want it so soggy it’s basically disintegrated. They missed the mark. I don’t know what’s up with this torched meringue nonsense on the top but I want no part of it. And the mango puree was fine but I needed menos mango and más leche. Like, this was 1.5 leches, tops.

Price: I definitely lost track but I’ll go with…$50 per person with a generous allowance for drinks? Maybe $35 if you are lame.

Bottom line: With a few small hangups, the food was overall excellent and worthwhile. The drinks make this place special, though, and having a mezcalería this close to my in-laws’ (the we can actually get a reservation at) is downright dangerous.

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