Young and Hungry

A Tale of Two Tacos: Oyamel vs. La Placita

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Let me acknowledge from the start that this is an unfair comparison. You can't begin to compare the costs and value of a Penn Quarter Mexican restaurant run by a celebrity chef with a suburban taqueria designed for Latinos.

Still, look at the difference in these photos: The top one is the pancita de puerco al pastor at Oyamel. I ordered it on Friday. It's sort of José Andrés' answer to tacos al pastor, except this one includes seared "house-cured pork belly" with a guajillo sauce, pineapple, onions, and cilantro. It costs you $4, which apparently still isn't enough to fill a single tortilla with the pricey ingredients.

This bite was so small, and such a conceptualized take on tacos al pastor, I almost thought it got intercepted on its way to the minibar. I have to admit, though, the taco was damn tasty — a reminder that it's not the size that counts.

The photo after the jump features three tacos that I bought last year at Taqueria La Placita in Hyattsville. They were $2 each.  Each was a two-ply corn tortilla taco so stuffed with meat and onions and cilantro (and other garnishes) that the fillings spilled all over the table (and your shirt, if you weren't careful).


So what kind of taco experience do you prefer?

  • Ashlee

    Tim, I am at this moment on a plane headed from DC to a bordertown in south Texas (my birthplace). What am I most looking forward to? The taquerias.

    Obvs La Placita owns a fancy taco any day. But even Placita pales in comparison to the tacos I'm gorging myself on this week. :)

  • mcclive

    The tacos at Oyamel remind me of the pintxos at Estadio or the izakaya food at Kushi. Street food can be spruced up and taste great, but it's always a bit weird to eat the fancy version, kind of like the gourmet mac & cheese all over town. I'll stick with the low versions.

  • Native JD

    again reminding me why i dislike jose andres. disappointment after disappointment.

  • AK

    For an even more authentic flavor, I recommend El Charrito Caminante in Arlington

  • Raul

    It's hard to get truly great tacos al pastor outside of Mexico City, even in US border states and other parts of Mexico. I've had the Oyamel taco and it's mostly a tasteless, poor approximation. In fact, Oyamel's entire menu is basically Mexican-ish dishes with all of the real flavor removed to cater to American palates. I can't remember having eaten a particularly spicy dish, a travesty at a Mexican restaurant.

  • monkeyrotica

    I refuse to eat any pizza unless I'm in Naples. There just isn't any point.