If there’s one food I can eat constantly and never get sick of, it’s tacos.
So when I was invited to try out ZenTaco’s recently launched brunch menu with a group of press earlier this year, I jumped at the opportunity to visit a restaurant named after one of my favorite foods. Even the fact that ZenTaco is located on the Upper West Side — a neighborhood I’m usually too lazy to trek to from my Long Island City apartment — didn’t diminish my excitement to try this new spot.
The brunch menu, although a bit small, has enough Latin and Asian-inspired dishes to satisfy most diners, myself included.
Rather than let everyone order their own dish, servers brought out a slew of options from both the brunch and lunch menu for members of our press group to try, starting with a sampler platter of chips, salsa, guacamole and queso. All three dips were flavorful and delicious, and the chips tasted homemade. Things were off to a great start.
As for the drinks, the Bloody Mary Pop, a tequila Bloody Mary garnished with an avocado popsicle, immediately caught my eye. Although it was freezing outside, I couldn’t resist ordering this drink as it was something I’ve never seen before. Both the Bloody Mary and the popsicle were delicious, and although the drink felt a bit out of season, I’m glad I gave it a try.
Next came another round of food —chipotle and Korean BBQ chicken wings and shrimp dumplings. I passed on the dumplings because I don’t like shrimp, but my brunch guest Rique gave them her seal of approval and was happy to have this dish all to herself. The chicken wings were also satisfactory, and I especially enjoyed the Korean BBQ sauce.
In between more rounds of food, I ordered another drink. This time I went with The Fressada, a tequila-based beverage with a strawberry lemonade popsicle. This drink was fruity but also packed a punch because of the tequila. I loved this cocktail and can see myself enjoying a few too many on a hot summer day. This and the Bloody Mary were just two of many creative cocktails ZenTaco offers.
After two strong drinks, I was ready for more food. This time around, we were treated to fried rice, chicken and pork tacos, and my favorite part of the meal — Mexi tater tots. Unlike at many Mexican restaurants in the city, the tacos were a good size and incredibly filling. The meat was juicy, and the toppings were tasty.
The fried rice is a solid side dish option, but with so many other more creative dishes in front of me, I only had a couple bites in order to save room. As for the tater tots, covered with cheese dip, pico de gallo, crema, guacamole, cotija, and topped with a fried egg, Rique and I devoured every last forkful of these. I would come back to ZenTaco just for this dish it was so good.
The Bitches say: A-. ZenTaco serves up solid Latin and Asian-inspired fare, plus creative cocktails that pack a serious punch.
(Upper West Side)
522 Columbus Ave.
New York, NY 10024
ZenTaco serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.