Forget about familiar border town Tex-Mex, or the spa-style cuisine you enjoyed at that coastal resort. To truly understand Revolver Taco Lounge, you have to travel deep into the interior.
If a friend invited you into his home to have his mother cook you an authentic Mexican meal, would you be impatient with how long it took for her to get your dinner to the table? Well, meet your new friend, Regino Rojas, owner of the highly acclaimed Revolver Taco Lounge and wave to his mama (and a few of his aunts) back there in the kitchen cooking their hearts out for you.
We’ve all been on vacation and been so embarrassed by the haughty behavior of a fellow traveler that we were ashamed to speak the same language. On the night I visited, there was at least one ugly American among us, complaining about everything she could think of. I assume her tacos didn’t taste like the ones she normally gets at Taco Bell, and she even sent back her drinking water.
I don’t know what her problem was. My water tasted just fine. Mine came with a splash of tequila, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lime and pineapple juices. My water was so good, in fact, that I asked for a refill. The cocktail creations at Revolver are inspired by the artisanal fresh fruit syrups made by shaved ice street vendors in Mexico. They are the same Rojas recalls from his childhood.
The menu is inspired by his mother’s home cooking, which takes a total left turn from the typical formulas that you are accustomed to. Aside from the taco portion of the menu, you won’t find any standard fare (and even the tacos aren’t the norm, filled with things like beef tongue, Mexican corn truffle and rainbow trout).
We started by savoring the Ceviche De Atun special ($15). Fresh dices of lime-marinated sushi-grade tuna were served in a medium martini glass, along with caramelized serrano pepper and a light avocado ice cream sauce. It was garnished with toasted sesame seeds and a julienne of mint. The dish provided the perfect balance of heat from the serranos and the refreshingly cool and slightly sweet avocado cream. Best appetizer I’ve tasted all year!
The Enmoladas De Pollo ($15) was a delicious enchilada-style meal with four rolled tortillas filled with slow-cooked pulled chicken. The sauce is what makes them special. Mole Coloradito is one of the house specialties. It is a rich brown emulsion with smoky serranos and roasted peanuts, among many other ingredients. I have only attempted to make mole on two occasions. It is both a labor- and ingredient-intensive process. We also tasted the green mole, which is another option for those who can’t enjoy peanuts. The dish was attractive with crumbles of queso fresco and pickled red onion on top, adding a unique flavor to the dish. And, I could sidetrack my entire review just discussing those delicate hand-made tortillas. Our food arrived in the order it was completed, without resting for any time under a heat lamp.
The star of the night was another special, the Puerco Con Chile ($20). Tender pan-seared pork loin and a braised pork rib were arranged with refried white beans and two fried chicharron gorditas filled with pork skins for flavoring.
Again the authentic sauce was heavenly. Juanita’s tomatillo salsa was neither tart nor green but roasted for that simmered-all-day taste. As we were savoring it, Rojas admitted that his mother used to pack this dish in his lunchbox to take to school. There is really no need to brag. I explained to him that even though he may not realize it, he was a very spoiled child. My mother used to pack me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cheese and crackers. Just pitiful, right?
The clean, white interior is sleek and modern with punches of red. The focal point is the bustling open kitchen, and a close second is the large bar area with antique revolvers lacquered right into the maple wood.
For dessert, we tried the Pastel Tres Leches ($7), which is traditional, and not like any you have had stateside. The sponge cake is firmer, and the milk sauce is infused with tequila and has not soaked the cake so completely that it becomes mushy. The crispy Bunuelo ($5) is a thin, fried pastry, like the ones you would find at a typical street fair. It has a strong caramely flavor and is crusted with sugar.
The emphasis here is on the Lounge. Quit tapping your toe and checking your watch. You are not in that big of a rush. Trust me ... you don’t want to miss this. Instead, sit back, relax and keep sipping on that delicious concoction.