A long column on Isalita's menu lists an array of small, street-sized tacos, served three to an order. (The size of these tacos may surprise those used to America's bigger-is-better ethos, but it's typical of many taquerias in Mexico.) Over two visits my husband, friends, and I tasted all of them, and opinions differed on most of them, making for lively conversation. The two pork options--carnitas and al pastor--were the clear favorites. Most of us enjoyed the mushroom filling, spiked with huitlacoche and tomatillo, but one found it too earthy. We all declared the chipotle chicken surprisingly bland, and the lengua, or tongue, undercooked, but we split on the fried Baja fish tacos, some wishing the seafood had been grilled. The kitchen's efforts to refine the straightforward papas y rajas--potato and roasted poblano--taco resulted in a soupy, weirdly disagreeable filling that only a diehard vegetarian could embrace.
Isalita's desserts are uninspired, consisting largely of ice creams and gelatos from next door and a serviceable tres leches cake. After two visits on very busy nights concluding with hefty checks, I began to wonder if really delicious quesadillas, gorditas, and tacos from La Casita Taqueria, at a fraction of the cost, damn the sterile setting, might not make a more gratifying meal. Somehow, the gentrifying of Mexico's simpler foods--even recognizing the labor that went into many of the dishes--wasn't that compelling with decent storefront taquerias a few miles away.