After a several month hiatus from my Atlanta Taco Tour, I got the ball rolling again this past week with a visit to Takorea. The restaurant opened back in 2011, and is slightly hidden off Juniper just south of 6th Street in Midtown. The interior space is pretty small, and definitely on the funky-eclectic end of the spectrum. Takorea’s Mexican-Korean “street food”-themed menu offers everything from tacos and burritos to some more classic Korean dishes (think Banchan and rice bowls). If you’ve read any of my other posts, it probably comes as a surprise that I would even go near this type of fusion concept with a ten-foot pole, but my appreciation for tacos made Takorea an exception worth trying.
The cocktail list at Takorea certainly struck my fancy – the “TakoRita” and “TakoTini” options all sounded fun and flavor-infused. I was immediately drawn to the “Tako-Rita” section of the menu, specifically, the jalapeño margarita. I’m generally not opposed to a stiff drink, but this ‘rita was essentially a large tequila shot with a lime wedge and a kick of jalapeño. One was enough for me.
On a side note, the drink menu also included a list of daily food and drink specials. I can’t say that I hate the idea of $2 Tako Tuesdays or $3 Fireball Fridays…
After casually stealing a glance at some of the super-sized tacos coming out of the kitchen, I decided right away that Takorea would be a 2-taco meal. The taco section of Takorea’s menu was pretty extensive, and the tacos were a steal at $3 to $4 a piece. I was torn between a few of the seafood options, but ultimately went with the sautéed shrimp and pork belly tacos. Despite my request for corn tortillas, both tacos arrived wrapped in flour tortillas. The tortillas were clearly fresh-outta-the-oven, so on this rare occasion, I decided just to go with it.
I did not regret my decision – the tortillas were super thin and doughy, and served warm & soft. The shrimp taco was lightly dressed with a hoisin tartar sauce, and topped with a corn & pineapple salsa. They threw some diced tomatoes and red onions in there for kicks as well. The dish was light, zesty, and refreshing. The colorful ingredient combination in the mango salsa brought a nice element of brightness to the taco. The shrimp themselves were on the smaller side, and definitely appeared (and tasted) boiled rather than sautéed as the menu suggested. However, the tangy-fresh combination of the tartar sauce and salsa more than made up for the mediocre shrimp.
The pork belly taco was hearty, bold, and spicy. The taco was literally stuffed to the brim with pork belly, braised in a nice and flavorful chili sauce. The chili sauce brought a nice amount of heat to the dish, but pork belly is usually so flavorful on its own that I wished there had been a little less of the sauce. The taco was topped with a “CCC” combo of sliced cucumbers, chayote, and carrots. The light and fresh toppings balanced nicely with the heartiness of the pork and the spiciness of the sauce.
Both tacos were very tasty, and definitely polar opposites when it came to flavor. The shrimp taco was probably my favorite of the two, but they could definitely take this one to a new level with some higher quality shrimp. For $4 though, I suppose you get what you pay for. My two-taco strategy was definitely appropriate here, as I was pretty stuffed after finishing both tacos.
In terms of the Taco Tour, Takorea probably ranks closer to the bottom of my list. When it comes down to it, I definitely prefer classic Mexican flavors over Mexican-Korean fusion, and I like my tacos with a side of chips & guac. I will say though, that branching out of my culinary comfort zone was definitely a fun change of pace. Perhaps I should do that more often…