With awards galore and a second outpost, Kevin Morrison’s Pinche Taqueria can’t get much hotter.
1514 York St.
Unlike some modern takes on Mexican street food, Morrison’s tacos don’t stray from Latin flavors, even as he adds contemporary flair. Take the lengua tacos, in which tongue from locally raised cattle is boiled for tenderness, braised, and then crisped on the griddle for caramelization. They are served on corn tortillas; scattered with avocado, diced onion, and cilantro; doused in tangy roasted tomatillo salsa; and drizzled with a creamy guajillo honey mayo that pulls the flavors—earthy, meaty, tart, and sweet—together. This attention to balance is true of every taco that crosses the counter, including the pork belly agrodolce with its perfect little cubes of sweet and sour braised pork belly, candied garlic cloves, cabbage-cilantro slaw, and a side of braising jus. The vegetarian queso a la plancha, however, may be the best taco of all, with salty, griddled Cotija cheese and smashed avocado offsetting the mouth-puckering roasted tomatillo salsa and lime.
Happy hour ushers in a twist on the taco theme with an array of affordable nibbles including chicken chicharrónes (crispy fried chicken skin dipped in a fiery salsa casera); skin-on fries (or “Pinche Papas”) sprinkled with Monterey Jack and smothered in a mildly spicy chorizo “gravy”; “Sloppy Josés” sliders made with the same chorizo filling; and smoky chipotle deviled eggs. Brunch, too, offers interesting combinations such as the green eggs and ham: a pepper-crusted cube of pork belly draped in a sauce of tomatillos, serrano chiles, and garlic and topped with fluffy scrambled eggs. Every meal at Pinche offers simple food and exacting flavors—with the same edge and value that attracts long lines to the food truck.
All of these dishes pair perfectly with Pinche’s well-edited cocktail list, with stars like the grapefruit-driven Palomas and the refreshing Pinche limeade made with house-made lime liqueur. A robust collection of nearly 50 tequilas, mezcals, and sotols (similar to tequila, only made from a different plant in another region) offers ample opportunities for interesting flights. One of the most unusual is the Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Flight, which includes a pour of Albarradas from the Mixe region and the Mezcal Pechuga, which is uniquely distilled using fruits and—get this—chicken breasts.
Are there downsides to this quirky taqueria? Of course there are, if you look for them. Some diners won’t like the wait; others will be turned off by the noise bouncing off of the restaurant’s hard surfaces.
But for me, I’ll take the din and the crowds (though maybe not the long waits) as part of the seemingly nonstop party known, endearingly to many, as a pinche good time.