Review: Django Western Taco

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Tacos are the new cupcake.

In a town where just a few years ago you couldn’t find a decent, authentic taco– or even just a really good, not-super-authetic taco– we now have a different taco option for every day of the week. Whether it’s the high end stuff at Nada, the hip stuff at Bakersfield, or a bevy of authentic places like Taqueria Yolandita and Dinastia Latina, we can now discuss the finer notes of whose guacamole is better and who has the best tortillas.

It’s a terrible problem to have, isn’t it?

Django Western Taco opened in the former Slim’s space in Northside, run by the folks from La Poste.  They’ve totally redone the inside– it’s clean, bright, and well laid-out.  They also have one of the best patios in the city (in a city that is in desperate need of more outdoor dining, I am thankful for this).

We went there with friends one night right after a storm– the air was cool and the patio inviting and at this point in the year, I’m game for outdoor dining whenever the weather breaks.

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The four of us were a motley crew– two vegetarians and two meat eaters, and the vegetarians had already been there (and raved). It provided us with an opportunity to try a variety of menu items and, since we’re all good friends, sit around and enjoy a few beverages and the ridiculously nice weather.

We started off with margaritas. The margaritas need a bit of a warning– or, perhaps, the server needed to mention the fact that these are not regular, run-of-the-mill margaritas but are sweetened with jalapeño simple syrup. I might have been tipped off by the fresh jalapeno ring around the straw (hey, it could have been clever decoration!) but when both The Better Half and I took our first sip, we looked at each other with surprise. They were good, but something that definitely needs to be indicated on the menu as they were quite spicy and took a bit of getting used to.

Guacamole was average (though spiked with corn?); I liked the crisp, spiced corn chips served with the guacamole, as well as their chipotle salsa.  For our mains, we decided on a few things:  two orders of chiles rellenos, a bowl of adobo pork, and some beans and rice.

UntitledThe chiles rellenos are the best thing we had all night– not deep fried, super flavorful, and not too cheesy, either.  So many chiles rellenos are deep fried cheese balls with little to no flavor outside of “fat” and “more fat”, these were piquant and well-balanced, pleasing both the vegetarians and meat eaters.  I’d highly recommend them.

UntitledThe taco we chose was less engaging:  the al pastor was a bit bland, and they were served on flour tortillas that had barely been heated up, much less cooked (most tortillas you buy commercially are par-cooked, with the final cooking happening when you serve the tortillas).  I admit it: I prefer corn tortillas, and with the aforementioned restaurants (both “hip” and “authentic”) serving homemade corn tortillas with their tacos, there isn’t much of an excuse to serve gummy tortillas with your tacos. I ended up just eating meat on its own. I love, however, the bowl concept– particularly if you have a lot of people who want to try a little bit of everything.  Great idea.

The beans and rice and “pickled 3″ were all very vegetarian friendly– the beans aren’t made with lard, and the rice is meatless.  The pickles were a good addition to the tacos– I love the contrast of rich pork and sour pickles.

Dessert was homemade salted caramel ice cream, and the flavors change regularly (once they’re out, they move on to another flavor).

The service was good and efficient, and they really do cater to groups– you can get a fifth of whiskey or tequila for $35 (though the menu doesn’t tell you what kind of whiskey or tequila) to share with friends.  I’d like to see a pitcher of margaritas available as well.  I’ll definitely be back for those chiles rellenos and a cool drink on the patio.

Django Western Taco on Urbanspoon

  • http://twitter.com/ewgreenberg Eric Greenberg

    The best thing I had there was the seafood stew. I had my tacos on corn tortillas which made it much better (they give you the option), but I agree that overall the food was a bit underwhelming. They seem sincere in their quest to provide a quality experience and I expect them to improve.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      Agreed. We weren’t given the option of flour or corn– they were just brought out. Glad that’s changed since we’ve been there. From what I can tell, they are tweaking things all the time– which I really respect.

  • Lisa Hilbert

    It seems like they are tweaking things a bit. I read reviews on Yelp before we went and all the concerns (i.e. flour tortillas, bland guacamole) were fixed by the time that we went. I always have to look at restaurants from a child-friendly perspective since I have 4. It was great for us. The kids loved hanging out in the blue “rocks” on the patio. The food came out quickly and it was delicious. We tried each type of meat and my fave was the beef with horseradish and cilantro. So good! The kids really wanted some cheese and sour cream, but they got over it and were happy with the queso fresco. And the price for feeding 6 was unbeatable for this type of meal. We will definitely be back.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      I can totally see how it would be good for kids, particularly earlier in the evening. *I* wanted to play in the blue rocks. :)

  • Eric T.

    I’ve read some pretty good Django articles in the last month or two. The food is good, the concept is cool and quirky, but the owners need to really ramp it up on the marketing front.

    All the major newspapers in town have articles out, plus a couple bloggers. Yet not ONE of those is referenced on their Facebook page, or conveyed via Twitter. They’re getting good feedback…now they need to spread the word.

  • globalrhizome

    I went there with a group of friends a few days ago, and we really enjoyed it. All the dishes were decent, but the lengua (tongue) bowl for tacos was amazing. I know many Americans are squeamish about eating tongue, but in much of the rest of the world it is considered a delicacy, and Django’s version of tongue tacos is the best I’ve had in the US.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      I’ll be trying the tongue next time.