Much like other popular culinary couples — bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly — tacos and tequila have a natural hand-in-glove fit. The Warehouse District's recent addition — aptly named Tacos and Tequila — shines a spotlight on the twosome, offering inexpensive Mexican classics in playful, luchador-themed environs.
The restaurant is divided into two sides — tacos on one, tequila on the other — with food and liquor flowing easily back-and-forth across the divide. The tequila side of the restaurant is visually stunning, with low-slung ceilings and a lengthy wall of mirrors creating the kind of understated atmosphere that's ideal for a post-dinner drink or pre-show beverage. The bar impressively stocks a number of tequilas and cachacas worthy of exploration, but imbibers would be remiss if they didn't begin their meal with the two-toned hibiscus paloma, which is refreshingly floral and balanced, while highlighting the tequila.
The taco side is structured similarly to the national chain Chipotle or local Mexican stalwart Felipe's Taqueria. Diners queue in a cafeteria-style line and observe the assembly of the burrito or quesadilla of their choice.
Strangely, tacos are some of the least compelling menu items, with lackluster, gummy tortillas that could've been plucked from a grocery store shelf, and filling portions that make the tortillas appear to swallow the ingredients. The most promising filling for the tacos is the cooked-to-order and appropriately light and crispy Baja-style redfish, which seems like a southern California indulgence when topped with the sweet-tart pucker of tamarind-jicama pickles. These pickles might be an item that could be bottled and sold on their own.
While ho-hum tortillas plague other dishes as well, they are easier to overlook in light of well-thought-out meat and vegetable creations. The menu's lone vegetarian option — a mix of smoky, roasted mushrooms and charred poblano chilies — is earthy and meaty, with the supple mushrooms and woodsy heat of the poblanos combining to form the perfect filling for a hulking, tightly packed burrito. Louisiana shrimp are another top-flight filling option, with the plump shellfish brightened by a lemon-garlic burst and brought to ceviche-like acidic levels in the presence of the restaurant's house-made roasted corn and mango salsa.
For those seeking red meat, the Americanized Mexican food favorite, carne asada, is an unfortunate miss at Tacos and Tequila, arriving unevenly in chalky, dried out or strangely sinewy bites. The pork fillings are better seasoned and executed across the board, with sweet roasted pineapple breathing new life into the restaurant's al pastor and crumbly, spice-packed chorizo, a particularly peppery option for those interested in spicy heat.
None of the dishes at Tacos and Tequila break the Mexican mold, but the restaurant serves the neighborhood well, with quality, budget-friendly food that's as easy to grab-and-go as it is to enjoy while relaxing with a souped-up paloma.