Mexican eats are out of the mainstream in the Big Durian, but aficionados have surely heard of this taqueria by now.
Tucked among the rest of the hipster canteens along Panglima Polim V street, Taco Local is literally a hideaway from the city crowd.
Even if it’s against the backdrop of an all-white house, the titian signpost is pretty small. It’s easy to miss it like I did when my GPS system said I have arrived, but take a second look, and you’re sure to spot it.
The atmosphere inside was nonetheless inviting, although there’s not much more to say except that it’s a cozy little shack designated for grabbing quick meals and finger foods – very laidback, very casual, very unpretentious.
Now if you’ve been trying around Mexican foods around the city, you might expect eats loaded with sour cream and cheddar cheese. That’s what you get in Chipotle, and that’s certainly what you get in Taco Bell. That’s Tex-Mex, the Americanized Mexican food you see prevalent across Jakarta (and beyond). At Taco Local, you get the cleaner version that is closer to the real Mexican street foods.
Now if you know me (and/or my blog), you know I don’t drink. But as I’ve blogged about this recently, I’ve been listening to Guardians of the Galaxy‘s awesome mix tape, and The Pina Colada Song has been stuck in my head while driving, while I’m doing my cardio, and especially in the showers.
I can’t tell you whether this pint of Pina Colada (IDR 68,000) is authentic, but it was delicious. Discounting the juice bar, almost everything else under beverages is based on tequila, and this one’s the only refreshment with rum, and because I only love tiramisus with rum in it (plus the pina colada song), I ordered the heck out of it. It’s perfect for a hot summer day, or just for the regular escapists who like the idea of imagining themselves in some tropical island while at work – you just can’t stop slurping this thing.
Before we move on to the verdict, I should give you a heads up first that pork is a big part of what has garnered Taco Local’s success. Their most popular taco dish, the Al Pastor Tacos, features grilled pork shoulders, which freaks me out just by hearing the staff briefing us on the menu. You know by now that I don’t eat piggy … and let me tell you, about 60% of their taco selections contains pork. So brace yourselves.
I started off with a double serving of Pollo Comino Tacos (IDR 58,000). All 8 selections of tacos are available in singles and doubles, and as you can see here, are served in steamed, greased soft flour tortillas.
I love the chunky chicken bits and how cumin-infested they are. The spice matches beautifully with those huge cilantro garnish on top and the acidic lime squeeze I smeared above it all. However, the salsa was nothing close to fresh, and the guacamole was barely even there. It’ll probably topple everything off if there’s more of the guac, but I’m just guessing here. It’s already a messy grub like this.
Then I moved on to the Queso Quesadilla (IDR 60,000), and I gotta admit, I picked this one because the menu description says it’s filled with “cheese, cheese, and cheese.”
The one thing I love most about Mexican cuisine, besides its beans and herbs and spices, is actually dairy. Judging by the triple cheese description alone I was expecting more of it, but it came with a flimsy and disappointing one.
Again I want to stress this is just personal taste, but I tend to order the extra guac at Chipotle. That’s just how much I love avocados and guacamole. This one’s ridiculously bland, severely needs more lime, onions, and jalapenos, and is clearly too watery to be called a dip.
The whole concept of the joint is to whip up all things Mexican according to the local’s taste buds, so I think the pale guac and the lack of cheese here is meant to suit Indonesian’s overall preference for dry and salty bites.
I’m not saying this is bad. It tastes just fine this way … just that a diehard cheese lover is demanding more cheese.
Last but certainly not the least is the Elote Burritos (IDR 68,000).
Now this one’s worth every bite. It was served warm, freshly baked, and comes with a couple of nachos and that same watery guac dip.
The main distinction of the Elote out of the other 3 burritos on the menu is its delicious roasted corns. They add crunch and sweetness to the mildly sour salsa inside, more texture to complement the soft mesh of baked cheese and smokey red rice, and just a bit more juice to the mushy black beans and the astringents (guac, peppers, and bell peppers). It was great that everything fell into place beautifully in your mouth.
I also love the relatively generous portion of it, because this is my kind of comfort food. It’s well-baked and well-integrated and it is far from getting as messy as the tacos when you’re munching on these burritos, although the nachos were blah.
Now will I come back? Of course, particularly for the rest of the non-pork-based burritos (more so than the tacos). It’s a great place for close friends to dress down to their flip-flops, play cards, and enjoy light drinks and virgins for hours. Service was swift and they’ve truly localized the whole feel of traditional taquerias.
On a more general scale though, I recommend this place not just for the local beatniks, but also for just about anyone in the city who’s starting to lose faith in restaurants that serve with a genuine soul.
Jl. Panglima Polim V No. 38
Jakarta Selatan 12160
+62 (0)21 9494 9538
Visit Facebook page at Taco Local
Follow @TACOLOCAL on Twitter
or @TACOLOCAL on Instagram
M – Th 12:00pm – 10:00pm
F – Sa 12:00pm – 12:00am
S 09:00am – 09:00pm
Jl. Petitenget No. 900
Denpasar, Bali 80361
+62 (0)361 7979 900