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Sunday April 20, 2014
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Artful Taqueria



Although you'll likely wait for a table, you won't have to wait long for food once you order. The menu consists primarily of antojitos--snacks, street food, and light dishes quickly prepared and meant to be shared. (Plates arrive as they're ready, often in rapid succession, so stagger your order if you wish a more leisurely meal.) And at Isalita, these takes on Mexico's common dishes aren't presented in common fashion but individually assembled in fine dining detail.

High-quality ingredients, careful execution, and bold flavors mean much of the food tastes as good as it looks. Hamachi ceviche, brightened with orange-habanero sauce, bits of citrus, and a lime granita, proved a nearly perfect balance of tang and sea once we scraped off the overly sweet ice. On a trio of miniature tostadas, crispy corn tortilla rounds and perfect avocado crescents sandwiched pristine red squares of raw tuna. Coctel de camaron, aka shrimp cocktail, layered thick, spicy tomato sauce with avocado puree, triumphing over any ketchup and horseradish version, though I wished they hadn't sliced the shrimp. Tiny cubes of pastel-colored melon combined with mint, chile, cheese, and lime in a refreshing salad. Queso fundido, accented with house-made chorizo, was the typical cheesy decadence. At $10, I'm not sure the truffle guacamole, gilded with garlicky truffle-huitlacoche (corn fungus) vinaigrette, sufficiently outshone Tmaz Taqueria's chunky onion-and-pickled-jalapeno-dotted dip at half the price, but that might be a matter of personal preference.

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