In my formative food years, tacos were pretty standard fare. Regardless of where I got them – at a sit-down restaurant, a fast food drive through, or my mom’s house – there wasn’t a lot of variety: Hard, corn tortilla shells; mildly spiced ground beef; cheddar (I think) cheese; lettuce; tomatoes; and if I was feeling crazy a little dollop of sour cream.* Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
As a result, I really hadn’t had a taco in some time. While I liked them fine, they were never a must-have favorite. Outings to Mexican restaurants were filled with more interesting enchiladas and big-as-my-head burritos. And I was happy.
Little did I know that my world was about to be rocked.
On a random Friday night, Mark and I headed to Pueblo Solis, a little family-owned Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood. We love it there. The food is always good, the staff is great, and the house margarita (no need to get a super fancy one) is downright delicious.
This particular visit, however, there was something new. I learned about an off-the-menu special: the fish tacos. I said, to myself, “Self, that sounds delightful.” For some reason, the idea of grilled (not fried) fish struck me as refreshing. I needed a change of pace.
When my dinner was placed in front of me, I was instantly pleased. Four flour-tortilla-wrapped tacos – perhaps I should call them what they really are: four little packages of fish-filled love – were on the plate, along with usual (and yummy) refried beans and rice, and a couple of slices of lime.
Opening up the first taco to add a squeeze of lime, the taco fillings were beautiful to behold. The gorgeous, flakey grilled tilapia (which is super fresh and sourced from Bob’s Seafood) contrasted against the colorful and robust pico de gallo and complemented the crisp and cool and crunchy lettuce. An effective and effusive sprinkle of fresh cilantro brightened up the entire dish.
It all seems so simple. It didn’t seem so complicated. That’s why what happened next is beyond explanation.
I don’t remember much after my first bite. All I can recall is that when my head cleared (was that my second margarita?) there was nothing left. My plate was clear. I wanted more. No, that doesn’t quite capture it: I needed more!
I was hooked on fish tacos.
Perhaps is has something to do with the fairy dust. Well, maybe it isn’t exactly fairy dust, but it sets these fish tacos apart and ahead of all others. It’s the thinnest schmeer ever of special sauce. When I asked Moni Ramos, general manager and the all-around great guy who greets every guest, about the tacos’ fairy dust sauce, he generously told me it was made from mayonnaise, mustard, and roasted garlic.
“That’s it?,” I asked.
“Yes, that’s it,” he replied … with a grin.
The grin is what makes me think there is some other magic in there. He’s just not telling me, and that’s ok. It keeps me coming back!
What started off as a special for Lent is now a permanent off-the-menu treat. If you’re going to get the fish tacos, you have to know to ask for them. Now that you’re in the know, do it! Head down to Pueblo, order up your margarita (really, you just have to do it), get your fish tacos, and Eat It, St. Louis!
*The first time I ever had sour cream on Mexican food was in a little restaurant in Lamar, Colorado, with my grandmother. It was a new idea for me, and I read it on the menu. I asked her if I should ask them to leave off the sour cream (quelle horror, some many years later!). She looked at me and plainly said, “Well, Amy Ann, we are in a Mexican restaurant that is owned and operated by a Mexican family. If you want to eat it the way it is supposed to be, then have it the way they make it.” Great wisdom from a great lady.