The Coachella Valley has a wealth of phenomenal Mexican food, from humble taquerias to upscale Mexico City Cuisine. The newest entry, the upper mid-range Tac/Quila, is a welcome addition.
Liz and Mark Ostrich, the same people who own Farm, have created a beautiful oasis on North Palm Canyon in the former home to Hamburger Mary’s and Watercress Bistro. They have transformed the patio and dining room into a sumptuous lounge with plenty of outdoor seating. They have clearly put a great deal of thought into every detail: vintage salt and pepper shakers, warm hanging lamps, and even the tile in the bathrooms make for beautiful design. The gorgeous wall of bromeliads and ferns that frames the outside dining room make this a restaurant you want to linger at and return to again and again.
But beautiful design is only the beginning of the story for Tac/Quila The food here is truly extraordinary. I had lunch on my first visit. My husband and I ordered a variety of their “Street Tacos”. Three plates were more than enough for two hungry bears. My favorite was the Fried Calamari with chile pesto and cabbage; a very generous portion of lightly fried calamari served over two house made corn tortillas, with just the right amount of spice to let you know you were alive without being so spicy you were uncomfortable. These were so good I went back two days later and got the Calamari appetizer.
The Al Pastor tacos, with a bright roasted tomatillo salsa and perfectly grilled pineapple, were another standout, with the sweetness of the pineapple perfectly balancing the heat of the marinade on the meat. Speaking of meat, I am not sure exactly where Tac/Quila is sourcing their pork, but I have to say it is some of the tastiest pig I have eaten in a long time. The spice rubs serve to enhance the inherent “porkiness” of the meat rather than hide it.
When I returned two nights later with some friends, I was again impressed with the level of service I received. We started our meal with my new favorite calamari, served with a rich mildly spicy guajillo chile crema and the roasted tomatillo salsa. The Camerones with Mojo de Ajo had a lovely garlic bite to it. The heat of the spicing was moderated by the mound of rice and coleslaw. A side of delectable red garlic bread completed this dish.
I Torte Ahogada was another standout: crispy, porky carnitas drowned in a tangy herbed tomato sauce and zingy pickled onions. This is standard taqueria fare elevated to new levels.
My taste almost always runs to the meat dishes on a menu, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how very delicious the Roasted Poblano Pepper is. With a distinctive earthiness, stuffed full of creamy Oaxacan cheese, green zucchini and sweet corn, this dish is rich and satisfying. A side of their creamy beans makes this a delightful meal that everyone can enjoy.
Cocktails are also not to be missed at Tac/Quila. Smartly, they offer flights of their margaritas and Sangrias, so you do not have to make a commitment the first time you go. My favorite of the margaritas was the blackberry: mouthwatering fresh blackberries muddled with lime and orange juice. The addition of charcoal makes it health food or at the least health food adjacent. This is a truly well-balanced drink—not too sweet, not too tart.
If margaritas are not your thing try the Jalisco Mule. Except for the addition of ginger beer, this bears almost no similarity to a Moscow Mule. None the less, it is an impressive cocktail. Ginger, lime, watermelon and tequila play together in a sublime way. The beer list also holds lots of surprises. My friend a real beer aficionado commented on the number of beers he had not seen on menus in the states before. Or try the Chavela—house-made bloody Maria mix and Escorpio Negro beer; malty and spicy with a hint of sweetness this is a perfect lunch
No matter the time of day I suggest saving room for the Churro Ice Cream sandwich. Crispy deep-fried goodness surrounds luscious ice-cream. What could be better?
We are lucky to have so much great Mexican food here in the Coachella Valley. Tac/Quila brings something new and beautiful to downtown Palm Springs. I cannot wait to head back.
425 N Palm Canyon
Palm Springs, CA 92262