Five-dollar* lunches: slipped the tongue at Taqueria Traspasada | Bleader

Friday, December 28, 2012

Five-dollar* lunches: slipped the tongue at Taqueria Traspasada

Posted By on 12.28.12 at 03:05 PM

Yep, thats black salsa.
There's this movie that I liked a bunch when I was a kid and it's called Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Maybe you've seen it. Maybe you haven't because none of the Indy sequels will ever live up to Raiders. If we had this conversation aloud, in real life, we'd all slowly die of boredom.

So, let's not do that.

Anyway, in Temple of Doom, our hero, Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, and the cute Asian kid from Goonies travel to India to save a village of children who've been kidnapped and forced to work in a mine by a guy who pulls people's hearts out of their chests sometimes. Their journey is long and tiresome. They make it to the Pankot Palace, where a well-meaning Indian fella tries to feed them all manner of exotic foods—chilled monkey brains served in the skull, most memorably—much to the chagrin of Capshaw's character. Finally someone brings her soup. She heaves a sigh of relief. Alas, she nudges the innocuous-looking broth with her spoon, and discovers it's loaded with eyeballs, an albondigas soup that stares back at you.

I felt vaguely like Kate Capshaw when I nudged my soup at Taqueria Traspasada.

My dining companion and I visited the Avondale Mexican restaurant (they have another location in East Village) on a (very) recent afternoon. We sat down and two styrofoam bowls of piping hot soup arrived immediately. It was snowy. We were starving. What a treat! A treat filled with tongues and stomachs. I don't mind tripe. I sometimes like tongue. I don't like either floating in salty liquid. Something about the wispy way the taste buds move to and fro. Really off-putting.

But, hey: it's free soup. I guzzled the spicy broth and left the meat behind, buds and all.

I was really excited about Taqueria Traspasada because I'd looked at their menu online (on Yelp because they don't have a site) and it was cheap. Like, two-taco-meal-with-rice-and-beans-for-five-dollars-flat cheap. Suffice it to say, the online menu was not accurate. We decided to stay because we were hungry and in a restaurant. Also, the salsa—which was brought out with a basket of chips alongside the soup—was absolutely delicious.

Besides the flavor, the most remarkable thing about Traspasada's salsa is that it's black. No, not a black-bean salsa, but—from what I could put together—a salsa that's black because it's made with smoked peppers and charred veggies. Maybe the smokiest salsa I've ever tasted, and in such a good way. We'd intended to ask if they sold it in bulk, but forgot. (You can find salsa negra here, though.)

Other things we tried (items that fit within our financial paramaters—you can basically forget about meals):

• The pork torta (right around five bucks). A really nice, fluffy bolillo packed with chopped pork, lettuce, refritos, and fresh avocado. My companion broke the rules and got it with beans and rice on the side for around seven dollars.

• The tacos. I ordered three for about $2.50 each: the chile relleno, the chopped skirt steak, and the tilapia. I know, it's like, UGH tilapia. What a lame fish. Seriously, though, it was the best of the three. The portion was thick so you could easily pretend it was a heartier fish like mahi, and was seared to perfection. I was most excited about the chile relleno taco, because it seems so smart to slap a breaded, fried, cheese-filled pepper on a tortilla so you can feed it into your face faster. Turns out it's a better idea in theory than in practice. The steamed corn tortillas atop which the relleno was served seemed to contribute to its soggy quality. Great flavor, crummy texture.

And, should I ever crave another Temple of Doom moment, Taqueria Traspasada also serves cow brain tacos.

3144 N. California, 773-539-4533

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