There is an age old saying that the simplest things in life are always the best. This philosophy can be best applied when it comes to food. Every culture has that one meal that is so easy to make yet tastes so magnificent. In Mexican cuisine this dish is the taco which takes us to our next restaurant.
Pica Taco recently opened two locations in what was a traditionally Hispanic neighborhoods of Columbia Heights (more towards U St.) & Adams Morgan. They pride themselves on serving patrons authentic Mexican cuisine.
If you are looking to introduce yourself to Mexican cuisine look no further. While it may not fully encompass everything Mexico has to offer they do a good job replicating the food. If you are a novice you can dig into a traditional Mexican sandwich, also called a torta or you can go with what you know and have a cheesy enchilada.
I on the other hand came for what I heard they do best which is their magnificently delicious and traditional tacos. My first visit came when I was looking for a quick hangover remedy on a cool Saturday morning. I decided to go with their breakfast tacos which are made like any Latin family would make them.
Taking my fist bite brought back memories of eating breakfast at home. These tacos were spot on in both flavor and preparation. The eggs were prepared in a traditional Latin method using fresh bell peppers topped with cheese and black beans. After my meal was done my hangover had disappeared and I was ready to conquer the day.
My next visit came during a quite Monday night. I decided to grab a quick bite to eat right after work. The weather was nice so I decided to walk home and with this place relatively near my house I decided to eat here. I was bit hungry so I decided to order one fish, a barbacoa and a chicken taco. I was also pleasently delighted to see that they had a vast selection of imported sodas as well a solid choice of Mexican beers.
I decided to go with my favorite, a bottled coca cola which is made with real sugar not corn syrup. I got my order and took a seat at which point I could not help but draw the parallels between this place and the run in the mill taco stands I used to go to in Honduras. From the simple menu to the bottled sodas everything seemed to be exactly the same.
I started off with the chicken taco which I topped with salsa verde (green sauce). The chicken emenated with flavor and spice which blended well with the fresh cilantro and pico de gallo. Next I went for the barbacoa which was juicy and succulent and faired just as well as the chicken. I saved what I thought would be the best for last. Mexico is renowned for their fish taco's as most of you know so the hype I put behind it was extraordinary. I am saddened to say that it did not, in fact the taco was actually bad. The tilapia lacked any real flavor and the accoutrement added no extra flavor to salvage the dish.
(Barbacoa, Fish & Chicken Taco)
Aside from that minor disappointment I really did enjoy my tacos. As I left I saw a big black sign on the wall which said "El Torro Burrito". Looking at it with a modicum of interest I discovered that it was a food challenge. I later told a couple of friends about this and was met with unprecedented enthusiasm.
We decided to sign up for the challenge which consists of eating a 4 pound burrito in 45 minutes. I knew that I could never accomplish this feat but did not shy from the challenge. We joined another group of friends and convened on the U St. location on a Saturday afternoon. I arrived late but was in an utter state of shock to discover the sheer amount of attention that this had garnered. The restaurant was literally packed with people cheering on these brave souls.
(El Torro Burrito Challenge)
Originally I had an intuitive plan which called for an excruciating workout prior to the challenge in an attempt to gain the extra hunger I needed to slay this gigantic beast. Those plans were quickly derailed by the massive hangover that I woke up to. I tried all day to get over it but there was no budging, in fact when I arrived (late I might add) I was still feeling the side effects of last nights debauchery.
Needless to say I toughed it out and tried my hardest but on this day I was not able to channel my inner Adam Richman and failed miserably. I would like to point out that I did not throw up as did one competitor but I probably ate the least.
(45 minutes later this is all I was able to eat)
I have to say that the challenge was very exciting, the crowd definitely amplified this feeling and I don't regret trying it. For those that are interested the challenge happens every couple of weeks and the burrito only costs $15 which is a steal. You can see the highlights of this challenge by checking this video out.
All in all I have nothing but good things to say about Pica Taco. They serve great authentic food, the service is spot on, the prices are fair and the atmosphere is solid. So if you are in the mood to eat south of the border I would recommend giving this place a shot.