Taco Mesa Restaurant

Tastiest Tacos in Town

March 2, 2024By Heidi EllisonRestaurants
Chef Beatriz Gonzalez at her new taco bar, Taco Mesa, in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.
Chef Beatriz Gonzalez at her new taco bar, Taco Mesa, in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.

The long taco wait is over. Sometime last summer, I read that Beatriz Gonzalez, the ebullient chef/owner of two wonderful Paris restaurants, Coretta and Neva Cuisine, was planning to open a taco bar in September. When a website appeared, I checked it constantly for news, longing for some authentic tacos (don’t even mention those lead-weight abominations known as “French tacos”), but for months and months and months, the site displayed only a name, Taco Mesa, an address and the announcement “Coming Soon.”

Feeding the taco machine.
Feeding the tortilla machine.

Finally, the announcement changed to “Taco Mesa Ouvert.” Last week, I rounded up three friends and ordered them to be at the door of the restaurant at 7:30pm sharp, since Taco Mesa does not take reservations and doesn’t open until then. I feared a long line of taco lovers, but, no, we were the first and got prime places at the end of the bar, where it bends, allowing for more conviviality and a straight-on view of the tortilla machine, tended by a young woman who fed the dough (nixtamalized in the restaurant) to the machine and quickly dropped the tortillas onto the grill as they rolled out the other side.

Taco Mesa brings Mexico’s favorite street food indoors (to the mesa, the table). The bar is a cheerful place, the bright orange decor tempered by the stainless-steel kitchen equipment and the gradation of the paint on the walls, from bright orange at the bottom to ecru at the top. Gonzalez happened to be there that evening and charmed us with her smiles and explanations of the dishes.

Guacamole and taco chips.
Guacamole and tortilla chips.

We started with excellent guacamole and superb “Mexican hummus” made with black beans, both served with the best tortilla chips (thick, black, flavorful, crispy) I have ever tasted. (I suggested to Gonzalez that she open a store to sell such goodies, and she seemed willing. Let’s hope it happens.) We accompanied them with margaritas made with agave syrup rather than triple sec and micheladas, a Mexican cocktail made with beer, Clamato juice, lime, Worcestershire, hot sauce and more.

Tacos and quesadillas.
Tacos and quesadillas.

We tried almost all of the tacos: cochinita pibil (confit pork marinated in achiote, with black-bean purée, pickled onions and cilantro), al pastor (roast pork, pineapple, onions and cilantro), birria de res (stewed beef with onions and cilantro) and vegetarian (sautéed mushrooms, daikon radish, salsa verde and coriander). The succulent beef taco came with an incredibly rich and deeply flavored dipping sauce made with the cooking juices. The daily special was tongue, but we missed out on that one (it was handwritten on the stovetop and we didn’t notice it).

We also sampled the other “main course” offering, quesadillas, which come in two versions: Chipotle (vegetarian) and Gringa (spit-roasted pork) both on flour tortillas, with melted cheese, mayonnaise with smoked chili and lime condiment. Tenderly tasty and satisfying.

Churros with dipping sauces and arroz con leche (rice pudding).
Churros with dipping sauces and arroz con leche (rice pudding).

There are only two desserts, both of them far more than recommendable. The not-too-sweet arroz con leche (rice pudding) is balanced by a topping of dulce de leche, with cardamom and tonka beans. adding crunch and a touch of spice.

The other dessert is churros, something I usually avoid because they invariably taste of grease. Not these! Well-sugared, crisp and warm, they came with two dipping sauces, caramel and an amazing chocolate sauce (we were all spooning it up after the churros were gone).

Needless to say, a great time was had by all, and not just us. The atmosphere was joyous, uplifted by the bright colors and fueled by the tastiest tacos in town.

See our Favorite Restaurants by Arrondissement page to find a good restaurant in the neighborhood where you want to eat.


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