El Cocinero

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Following a matinee screening of the newest Disney film, I set a course with the family in tow to Tallahassee’s newest taqueria, El Cocinero. The restaurant is located at 402 E. Tennessee Street and is easily spotted by the dia de los Muertos inspired skull logo.

El Cocinero focuses on flavorful freshly prepared Mexican inspired cuisine. Each day a homemade salsa is featured. On the day of our visit an apple and poblano salsa was on offer. We ordered a bowl with a side of fresh made chips (corn and white and sweet potato). We were impressed by the sweet and smoky flavors of the salsa and the way it paired with all three kinds of chips, but our favorite was the sweet potato.

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Those looking for run of the mill beef and chicken tacos will be disappointed, as El Cocinero specializes in unique combinations, including lamb, avocado, and pumpkin. After weighing my options, I ordered one cauliflower taco and one fish taco. Kirsten selected a pork taco and a chorizo taco. The kiddos went for a grilled cheese with a side of black beans and rice.

The cauliflower taco was a revelation and of the four, it was the first to disappear. Chipotle cauliflower was served on a warm flour tortilla (each taco comes with a customer choice of flour or corn tortilla) and topped with thinly sliced jalapeños, lime crema, shredded cabbage, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.

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The fish taco served on a fresh corn tortilla was also delicious. A generous serving of blackened fish was topped with grilled pineapple, shredded cabbage, jalapeño slices and chimichuri sauce. The subtle spiciness of the fish and the sweetness of the pineapple were a great combination, and I was happy I selected it as my second taco.

While Kirsten was distracted I took the liberty of trying both the pork and chorizo tacos. Like the two I ordered, they were impressive. The pork taco was full of tender carnitas, smoked black bean salsa, chipotle aioli, cabbage, and cilantro, while the chorizo taco was surprisingly topped with a fried egg. The fried egg was cooked perfectly, and the creamy yolk was a perfect compliment.

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Mason and Julia both gave the kid seal of approval on their grilled cheese (a fresh roll overflowing with melted cheese, which appeared to be queso fresco) and black beans and rice (which were amazing as a side and even the cup size could have been a standalone meal).

El Cocinero is a bright spot in the Tallahassee food scene, and I look forward to returning to see what other delicious surprises are on the menu. For more information visit elcocinerotlh.com or find the restaurant on Facebook.

Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Atmosphere: A
Taste: A
Presentation: A
Service: A
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

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