Steven Arroyo won all of our hearts with Cobras and Matadors, his charming, tapas style restaurant on Beverly Blvd where intimate date nights ended with deliciously sumptuous french toast and once in a while some equally sumptuous french kissing. With the news that it had closed it's doors in February, I felt a thud shuddering in my mind, echoing the end of an era.
But Arroyo won't close one door without opening another. Slowly building a lunchtime empire on the same block, Arroyo has opened sandwich spot Potato Chips and the hip taqueria Escuela right around the corner. And of course he has plans to open something new in the Cobras location.
Escuela has become a local favorite of mine, because they serves some of the best tacos in the city along with obsessively good chips and salsa. And it happens to have that clutter of cool that catches your eye. A glimpse of turquoise here, a mess of suspended chairs there and some casual outdoor seating.
Tacos are between $6 and $8 and arrive 2 per order. Make sure to hit up the ATM beforehand cuz just like all your fave spots in NY, it's cash only here.
The white shrimp tacos pop with flavor and are possibly the best thing on the menu. The tomatoes and garlic are just right with the spicy red mojo and chorizo.
The pork belly tacos with pickled onions and cilantro are rich and dripping in fat. The acidic vinegar of the pickled onions cuts the richness and adds a bite, and you can always pour on a scoop of the house's smoky salsa for added oomph.
The sea bass tacos with crispy skin and cabbage are a healthy choice. They're grilled rather than fried and have a light citrus marinade and chipotle creme fraiche. These are light and fresh and perfect to counteract the guilt of the pork belly. Or even if you're just craving some tacos but still want to behave. I get it, it's time to get back that banging summer bod.
The watermelon juice is served in a carafe and it isn't pureed with thick chunks but is perfectly filtered and sweetened with simple syrup. Depending on the season, blood orange and pineapple juice is also available. These juices really spell s-u-m-m-e-r-t-i-m-e and are just sugary and naturally fruity enough to compliment your tacos.
School is out for the summer at Escuela Taqueria. An endless summer where nobody ever forgets to cross their T's or chow down on some delicious tacos. No more papers, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks. Just tacos for days and days.