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Oaxaca on Smith St.

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OAXACA opened this past week in the former Homemade space next door to Andie Woo on Smith St. We got take out last night. Its a tiny space with a bench and some counter space. We ordered the 3 taco combo and the 3 enchilada combo, and a horchata to go (combo means with a side of rice & black beans). The food was not bad, but was also not oaxacan. Each taco & enchilada was a double corn tortilla, choice of fillings, enchilada with cheese & onions on top, guac & sr cream on side. Across the 2 combos, we tried fish, carne asada, pollo, and pork. They all had nice flavors and were better than just edible, but nothing stood out as stellar. The horchata had a nice flavor, but the consistency was very watery. I'd give it a C.

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  1. I thought it was great - especially compared to what's available nearby. The carne asada and shrimp tacos were awesome. Photos and commentary here: http://www.ihearttacos.com/oaxaca-on-...

     
    3 Replies
    1. re: ihearttacos.com

      >> especially compared to what's available nearby
      While I haven't been to Oaxaca yet (but plan to get there soon), the neighborhood has decent tacos. Nearby now includes Calexico, in addition to the old standby, Fast and Fresh.

      1. re: EJC

        Fast and Fresh is on my list. Is Calexico good? There's a "Calexico" on 5th ave which has terrible burritos; not sure if it's the same place.

        1. re: ihearttacos.com

          not the same place. This is Calexico of the soho food cart fame, not the joint in the slope.

    2. We had lunch there today and thought the tacos were really fantastic. I had a bean taco and a shrimp taco and my husband had a pork taco and a chicken taco. The ingredients were really fresh and high quality and the food was well-seasoned. The bean and the pork tacos were especially delicious -- just the right ratio of stuffings with a really nice garlic mojo on the pork.

      I'm sort of surprised, especially after reading seb's post above -- either we got very lucky, or she got very unlucky.

      I don't know enough about regional Mexican to speak to its Oaxacan authenticity, but I really like this place and we'll be back. I haven't been to Fast and Fresh, but I liked this place better than the new Calexico, which after all the wait and all the hype I thought was just ok.

      4 Replies
      1. re: oolah

        I don't think anything about this place is Oaxacan, and I think the owner is a Nuyorican from the nabe, but aside from some temperature issues I was very pleased with this place.

        We went last Friday night and sat at the bar. Had two fish tacos, two shrimp tacos, two orders of the elote, and a side of rice and beans.

        The rice and beans were OK, fresh black beans, but were a little luke warm. Same with the elote, although this was much better, using a nice smoked pepper mayo and cotija cheese. The tacos, meant to be served cold, were both brilliant - very fresh tasting seafood, nicely spiced, and well worth the $3 each cost.

        Is it the best Mexican in the city? No. Is it the best in the neighborhood? I haven't tried Calexico but compared to what else is around it's heads and shoulders above the competition. I would put it at Tacos Nuevos Mexicos quality, and not terribly far off Matamoros or Tehuitzingo. FWIW, I recently had the fish and shrimp tacos (so I'm craving these - it's summer and I want light tacos!) at Mercadito Cantina and man those were excellent. A tad salty, but the best I've had.

        1. re: lambretta76

          We had delivery from Oaxaca last night and it was great. We both had a sampler of beef, chicken, and pork tacos. All of them super tasty. I wasn't that into the elote, but its never really been my thing. The beans and rice were tasty. The salsas are great.

          I'd put them on par with Fast and Fresh for taco quality. Haven't eaten in Oaxaca or seen the dining room to know what its like but I'm sure its got to be nicer than eating in at Fast and Fresh (last time there were way too many bees lurking near trash bins out back).

          1. re: Nehna

            so glad to see all of these positive reviews, since Oaxaca is just down the street from me & I'd love for it to be good. Hopefully, we just experienced opening week kinks. We'll give it another try based on these more recent posts.

          2. re: lambretta76

            The owner, Moe, is Middle Eastern not Puerto Rican.

        2. Wanted to follow up on my original post. I gave Oaxaca a 2nd try 2 nights ago after reading the positive reviews following my mediocre one & I'm happy to report that DH & I were very pleased. We picked up an order to-go, only to find when we got home that they had botched the order. I called & they kindly delivered a replacement meal at no charge. We ate one of each type of taco on the menu except fish + the special of the day, a potato/poblano chile. The pollo was so smoky & rich. I could not believe it was the same place as when we first tried it. The potato/poblano combination was fantastic - the potatoes had a nice creamy consistency and the chile was strong & flavorful, but did not overpower. The pork was very tender. The beans & rice on the side and the bean taco were still too bland, but could be doctored with salsa & lime. Even the horchata was thicker after a good stir. Kudos to them for such a significant improvement. Still not sure why they are called Oaxaca though.

          1. Best mexican we've had in the neighborhood. That's not saying much but for two Mexican expats we were happy and really hope this place holds on. We ordered carnitas, asada and chicken all great. . .and tortillas were good quality.

            1. I tried Oaxaca last night for the 2nd time, and I'd have to agree with the original grade of C. The first time I had pork, carne asada and veggie potato/poblano tacos and a horchata. The pork and carne asada were pretty tasty, and the potato/poblano mixture was very yummy, but all were in a very meh cold stiff meh double tortilla. Filling was minimal, so there was way too much tortilla for the taco given that the tortilla wasn't tasty -- I ended up leaving most of one tortilla off each taco. The side of rice and beans was utterly bland and flavorless, and the horchata was watery, as noted above.

              I never like to judge a place on one visit, so I went back last night and had two of the potato/poblano tacos -- again, filling delicious, small portion, tortilla cold and stiff and too much of it. I would definitely eat those again, despite my not being enamored of the tortilla.

              I also tried a chicken tamale. DON'T. It was hard as rock, and almost entirely flavorless. I was shocked how tough it was to eat, and am not sure why I finished it.

              In summary: I'd grab a taco for a quick neighborhood bite. If I want good Mexican though, it's back on the subway.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

                I completely agree with Elaine. I was incredibly excited to see a taco place open near me, I live right around the corner. To be fair, I must start by saying that I am Mexican so my standards are really high particularly when it comes to tacos, don't understand why it is so hard for New York restaurateurs to replicate what simple taquerias are. The do it much better in the west coast. Anyway, back to Oaxaca. The first time I went was on opening night, I had a Carne Asada taco, the meat was tasty enough and tender, the tortilla was not properly heated but I still thought it was an ok taco for a quick snack around the corner. The second time I went, I had a carnitas taco and carne asada taco, the meat in the asada taco was tough, gamy and somewhat stewey, definitely NOT what a carne asada taco should be. The carnitas taco was ok, but very fatty. Both had luke warm tortillas, not heated through and I find this to be a common problem in NYC. The last time I went was yesterday. I was still willing to give it another chance and was dying for tacos. I had a Chorizo taco and it was terrible, really bad quality chorizo. I like the owners and the staff is friendly too but it is NOT a real taqueria, not even close. I would agree with Elaine and give it a C. I would love it if someone opened a good taqueria near us.

                1. re: monicagtz

                  What do you think about Fast-n-Fresh Deli? I find it inconsistent, but generally pretty good. I'm from Texas, but not from Mexico.

              2. I had Oaxaca for lunch today and I must say it was fast, fresh,. And I didn’t spend more then 10 bucks. The tacos were delicious and the service was great. Ill be back to try the Enchiladas.

                1. I heard a "Oaxacan theme" taco bar was opening up on Smith Street and was super excited.
                  Like a previous CH reviewer, I too am Mexican. My family is from Puebla, Mexico. I now live in Brooklyn Heights and tend to take the walk down to Smith Street often to dine. I was soo looking forward to eating at OAXACA but was totally disappointed by the food. When I asked the Middle Eastern young man behind the register about the dishes and the LACK of taste, he simply shrugged his shoulders. Obviously had no clue about the preparation. That's ok, so then I kindly asked to speak with the owner, this is where it gets good! I found out that the place was a TOTAL POSER!! I mean, the owners AREN'T FROM MEXICO or even Latin America.
                  They are from YEMEN. I mean c'mon people!! YEMEN REALLY??? Not sure how I feel about, dare I say, "the exploitation" of the flavorful and sometimes magical Mexican cuisine. When I asked the HOPEFULLY one Mexican guy in the tiny preparation area WHY the food was so lacking? He smiled and said, "Ay, trabajo es trabajo". Meaning "Hey, a job is a job." That's fair but I died a little that day my friends. I wouldn't recommend going to a place where they probably download their recipes from Wikipedia.

                  What's next a Black Jack Taco?!
                  As they say, Dinero es dinero...

                  D-

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ashowfor

                    I don't think there's any rule that the owner of a restaurant has to be from that ethnicity... I'm sure we could all think of hundreds of counter-examples that we love. If this was a guy from Yemen who fell in love with the idea of putting out good tacos and learned how to do so -- so much the better. What bugs me about Oaxaca is that they don't seem to be putting any care or attention into their food, which continues to be highly mediocre. (I would add that El Pitayo, also on Smith Street, is owned by Mexicans, I believe, and verges on the terrible. So people of any ethnicity can commit food abuse!).

                    -----
                    El Pitayo
                    213 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                    1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

                      I 100% concur with these comments. I found Oaxaca very mediocre this summer and had no particular interest in returning. Too bad. I would have loved to be excited.
                      And I found the remarks about ethnicity to be preposterous.

                      1. re: JonL

                        Well i hate to be in the minority here but we've had delivery from Oaxaca 3 or 4 times now and enjoyed it each one. No, it's not hardcore amazing but seriously guys, in this neighborhood, with alternates like we have, I think maybe people are being a little too harsh. We've honestly not had any issues with the tacos and found the food fresh and spicy. The Elote was less stellar (had a very odd blue cheese taste) but we've avoided that since.

                        1. re: Nehna

                          I'm with Nehna. It is the second coming of Jesucristo? Nope, but I like it better than any other Mexican in the neighborhood. Not as spicy as Fast & Fresh (which I've now had a few times), but the flavors pop more. Miles better than Calexico, which continues to disappoint me. And let's not even talk about Lobo, Pacifico or Mexicali (ewww).

                          I haven't had delivery, but I have noticed that the tacos are best when eaten immediately rather than carried home.