Sunday, October 11, 2009

Atlanta Tacos

Since I moved to Atlanta nearly 2 months ago, my appreciation, nay, infatuation with fish tacos (especially of the tilapia variety) has grown exponentially. Atlanta, GA is a strange place filled with an alarming amount of 7 cities transplants and awful roads. Ranked fourth in the country for having the worst traffic, Atlanta boasts impressively poor quality roads, a 1995 pennant win for the Braves, and a strange, phallic-shaped city center (just imagine Buckhead as yuppie, steel high-rise ejaculate).

However, what Atlanta lacks in historical victories against the North, it makes up for in business. CNN, Coca-Cola, some others, are all located here in the capital of the new (read: post-William Tecumseh Sherman) South and you will find that the business ventures of Atlanta's premier entrepreneurs have taken the lively 'Spirit of Turner' to new heights. I'll cut to the chase: Atlanta is a friend to big business but Atlantans be damned when those corporate lackeys try to put their ink-stained fingers on our food options. It is nearly impossible to find any chain restaurants (the basic fast food suppliers aside) within the Perimeter - trips to both Waffle House and Olive Garden have crushed any desire to eat there (or at their competitors) any longer. So, after much bush-beating, I arrive at my point: Atlanta hates chains and has thus far produced some delectable morsels from hole-in-the-wall establishments and neighborhood eateries that rival many of the meals I've eaten anywhere, period.

So when I moved here, I had no clue that I would be taken in by the fish taco experience. Having lived in Virginia Beach my entire life, I had never experienced a taco from the breast of the Atlantic. Actually, the concept of a fish taco frightened me. But Atlanta opened me up to the wonderful world of fish tacos...No longer would I be a slave to the confines of a can of tuna.

I guess I shouldn't be too emphatic about the fish taco thing. After all, I've only had them from two eateries and they were not "fresh" by my standards. Anything from the ocean that was not alive this morning is disqualified. However, when moving to a new city you must make concessions. ALAS, I feel compelled to mention these fish tacos from these two separate restaurants because they have inspired me to go thus far.

El Myr is the hangout for hipsters' hipsters. A Mexican bar/cantina with a Little Five Points address, the inside is just a clusterfuck. Dimly lit at all hours and filled with the smell of avocado, El Myr provides patrons with a dive atmosphere coupled with the dive feel of actually being in Mexico. Hey look out over there, it's that dude from Mastodon! Or, Hey, look, it's Juan, the guy that got kicked out of Torche! Yes, El Myr ("It rhymes with 'Beer'") is where Atlanta's hip elite descend from the heavens with the smell of tacos on their shoulders to interfere in the trivial affairs of the plebes they seek to inspire.

Their fish tacos fucking rule, though.

Served in two soft taco tortillas (two??), the tilapia tacos of El Myr are among the most delicious things I've ever consumed. A fried tilapia filet is topped with their homemade tartar sauce, a recipe that I would kill for. It is the sweetest, most succulent tartar sauce on the face of the Earth. On a bed of romaine lettuce and fresh tomatoes, this fish taco is mind blowing. Served with your choice of sauces, I down it with a pitcher or two. Their fish tacos fucking rule.

I am usually skeptical about places with exclamation points in the name, but I feel like it is justified in this instance. Holy Taco! is located approximately 3 minutes on foot down the street from me. Their sense of outdoor dining is unparalleled. Their chips are the best tortilla chips I've ever had (I'm serious). I can't describe them. Just go there.

The thing about Holy Taco! is that, at least from my untrained perspective, unlike El Myr who probably stumbled upon a delicious recipe for tartar sauce, I get the impression that Holy Taco!'s food is crafted by God. Their taco menu (all in Spanish) boasts beef tongue, chicken hearts, pulled pork BBQ, et al. Despite their miniscule size (it takes 2 or 3 to get full), they are culinary masterpieces. And their fish tacos are the best of all of them. Their tartar sauce, less sweet and more tangy than that found at El Myr, is used sparingly. It is amazing. Flat out amazing. When you throw in some toast that is covered in nutella and fruit, your taste buds are blown. Why eat anymore? Sustenance?

So, that's it for fish tacos.