Mi Mero Mole Staff Pick Image

Hours: Tues-Thurs 5-9pm, Fri 5-10pm, Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm

Mi Mero Mole is Zukin's [Nick] SE Division taquería, which offers familiar Mexican formats with a radical twist on the fillings. You will not find the typical asada, pollo, and carnitas preparations on the menu; the restaurant focuses on a rotating roster of fifty-odd guisados—stews and sautés—that Zukin has concocted based on his tastes and travels. These locally unique dishes have a satisfying richness both in the eating they present and the decisions that led to their inclusion. Their tacos, burritos, and quesadillas bridge the gap between fast food and something cooked slowly at home by my New Mexican grandmother, which makes the dialogue personal.

The foundation of the menu are the large, fresh, hand-made corn tortillas, formed and griddled at the counter. They puff expertly on the hot iron before deflating into a firm, golden flatbread of ancient heft, chew, and straightforward grain flavor. Supermarket tortillas would tear to heartbreaking ribbons in the face of these wet contents; Zukin's hold their shape impressively for the duration. Chips come to the table warm, ideally salted, and are, to put it plainly, the finest example I can think of anywhere.

A vegetarian guisado of mushrooms in spiced cream sauce was a sleeper hit of the assortment—an irresistibly hearty, indulgent treat—as was a lush, addicting guisado of roasted poblano chilis and onions in a sour cream and cheese sauce. Another vegetarian hit was the large corn tortilla-based quesadilla, which may feature sautéed squash blossoms or artichoke, depending on the market.

Meat-based guisados are generous, chunky, and earthy with fresh spices. Pork stews are well-trimmed of gristle and fat, allowing the tender bedrock of high-quality cerdo to be eaten without distraction.

Beverages: full bar with smart cocktails, fresh herbal teas, horchata, Mexican bottled sodas. Don't miss: fried plantains sauced with salty-sweet cinnamon-infused Mexican sour cream, a dish so delicious and dead-easy I now make it at home. Standard pricing for most items $5.50. Open for dinner weekdays, lunch and dinner weekends.

- CHRIS ONSTAD

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