"Texas is a big taco right now. We want to follow that through. Florida is a big tamale." Dan RatherSince 2009, Las Adelitas has been the only Mexican restaurant for me in Prague. It was the only one I knew of that was owned and operated by Mexicans.
Cantina, which I think of as Tex-Mex, has many fans, but it never thrilled me.
Now, just beneath the walls of Vyšehrad, there's a new Mexican-run joint in town. It is Tacos El Paisa, which bills itself as Prague's first taqueria.
The new restaurant is just one room, about six tables and a few stools at the bar area.
But theirs was just over the salty/sour line for me. The tortilla chips were heavily salted, too. I had the guacamole again on another visit, and it was much better, so they need to work on consistency.
To wash this down, I ordered up a classic margarita on the rocks with no salt (99 CZK). Excelente!
To go with that, I got the Tacos al Pastor (150 CZK).
All tacos are served with frijoles charros, basically a bean soup with smoky chorizo mixed in.
I went to Las Adelitas the same week to compare Al Pastors.
They were more generous with the meat, pineapple and lime, though the price is higher (179 CZK). I prefer their refried black beans and fantastic coriander rice as side dishes.
Both versions of this taco have positives and negatives so I'll call this one a draw.
It's worth noting that after two margaritas on a beautiful late afternoon, I saw they make them to go.
On my second visit, I went for the Nachos Paisa with chicken (179 CZK).
The chicken pieces were juicy and tender but bland. The beans were basic, and the cheese hardened and fused the chips together. I'm not a fan of the thick, salty chips they use.
The question about whether nachos are authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex is for another time and place. These didn't work for me.
To drink, I had a half-liter of Pilsner Urquell (35 CZK).
I took my Italian companion on my third visit. She had the guacamole and liked it. She started with the Ensalada El Paisa con camarones (160 CZK).
The six small shrimp were properly cooked, and I liked the garlic-lime dressing. The avocado was not particularly ripe. Overall, we both found the salad dull and uninspired. Perhaps a bit of cilantro would have jazzed it up.
I suggested we try a frozen mango margarita (99 CZK). This was a hit.
There were the frijoles charros and red salsa roja on the side and that's all. If you want different flavors or heat levels, they have an array of bottles sauces to spice things up even more.
We could have stopped there, but decided to get one more round of food. We went for the Tacos de Camaron (199 CZK). It's the same basic arrangement as the beef, but you get four shrimp per taco.
Service was friendly, with plenty of smiles. It's hard to judge the efficiency because the restaurant, which is non-smoking, was mostly empty when I was there. There was one point where I had to get up to get a server's attention.
Perhaps it is telling that I was more impressed with the flavor of the soft corn tortillas than that of the meats. I also wished for more variety on the menu.
Tacos with just meat, onions, coriander and salsa are certainly authentic (though defining an authentic taco is like defining an authentic sandwich). But they may be too simple for some.
Given a choice, this gringo is going to go for the more complex dishes on offer at Las Adelitas.
Though there are many similarities, perhaps it's not a fair to compare Tacos El Paisa with my favorite Mexican restaurant. One is a seasoned veteran and the other just started up. It may evolve, and I hope it does.
But fairness does not enter into the equation when I decide where to eat. For me, Las Adelitas is still the big taco in this town.
Tacos El Paisa
Prague 2 - Vyšehrad
Tel. (+420) 223 019 223