Taco Toots joins forces with Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile with Mexican fare that raises the bar on Swiss Mexican food that extra bit higher for one of the cheapest meals this side of the kebab – but ¡dale! guys, crank it up notch and let those flavours you’re nursing shine.
You and your friends have argued on whatsapp for hours about where to go for your after work drink. Arnold et Julen? Your Eaux-Vives dwelling friends will veto. Bottle Brothers? No Paquis way. For years, nay, decades this left bank right bank divide has funneled us all into Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile, but, quite frankly, they are slow, badly organized, and I’ve witnessed one too many creeps lurking around. And I don’t like their brunch. Still, I go, because, you know, Mojito.
When I went down there yesterday evening, it had been some time since I had circled that drain (where the Lac Léman turns back into the Rhone), and I was surprised to see a new addition to the cluster of businesses on the place. Behold, under the shade of trees people were sipping on Spritz Apérols and scarfing down tacos.
Says the owner, sarcastically, “You know how there’s all this great Mexican food in Geneva, right?”
Oh yes. I know all too well. Mañana’s serves the best of whatever produce Coop scraped off its racks and turns it into “salsa” and “guacamole” over stale chips. Mmmm gimme some of that. Le Chat Rouge is a big step up, but still, measly portions of guacamole make you feel like Calvin is managing the kitchen.
Things started to perk up last year though when Taco Rico opened up in Plainpalais – our very own Chipotle style joint that is actually quite generous on the guac and introduced caramelized and pickled onions to the Genevois palate. (Thanks Taco Rico!)
But I digress. Taco Toots, on Place de l’Ile has been open for a while now, and they are already attracting a crowd of tipsy after-workers who fell into the Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile pit with a serious case of the munchies. Jackpot.
Taco Toots is making a valiant effort at making Mexican food a little more authentic, but is going to need to spice it up to be truly chingon. The menu is simple (beef, pork pibil and veggie tacos, tostadas, and a quesadilla), the produce is good quality and fresh, the tortillas are sourced from the only authentic provider in town, and the service is super friendly. Win win win win, right?
But there’s more. I had two tacos with sides and an agua de jamaica for all of 14chf. WHAT??
But, as you can see, the portions per taco are on the conservative side. The clear favorite is the pork pibil, which was obviously cradled in warm, gentle spices for many many tender hours. The result is a juicy taco with a subtle seasoning. Almost too subtle. People who like a punchier taco will have to hit the spice bar to give it that extra umph. And hang on to that napkin – as long as they haven’t invented a “taco holder” you’re gonna need it!
The quesadilla came in a close second, with its unctuous cheese melt and some tangy veggies giving it some edge. In fact, it was favored by a vegetarian over the veggie taco option, which consisted of underseasoned roasted veggies.
The beef taco also had a lot going for it, but needed a little acidity kick in the rump to balance out the beef and the fresh diced veggie garnish. I know the Swiss aren’t known for their adventurous side but I think they can take a little more seasoning in their food without being overwhelmed with flavour. I added some of the tomato salsa, which helped, but a longer marinade or a spicier rub may have done that beef good.
And if you really love Mexican food, you’ll know it’s all about the fixings. With our tacos we got a good side of guacamole, pico de gallo and really crisp taco chips – a highly addictive trifecta.
So what is this agua de jamaica and agua de tamarindo thing, and why is it so exciting? When I lived in Southern Mexico (for a short, but oh so delicious time) I discovered that they make agua de whatever fruit you want, and serve it by the pitcher. Agua de limon is a bit like lemonade, and agua de jamaica is a bit like cold hibiscus tea, but tartier, sweeter and fresher. For me, heaven in a glass, and I bow to Taco Toots for bringing it home to me.