Oaxaca, an absolute shoe box of a place on the UWS specializes in a few Mexican dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and tortas. The space is extremely small and casual – just a few communal tables, a counter where you order, and a very well priced menu, including lunch specials.
Carnitas Taco and Pollo Guisado with pickled onions, cilantro, cotija cheese, avocado lime, and salsa are the way to go here.
These tacos are top notch. Incredibly fresh, with tender corn tortillas and a red salsa that is spicy and a bit smoky with roasted chiles. It has the brightness of fresh tomatoes and isn’t insanely hot, which lets the flavor of the tart, creamy avocado sauce shine. The pickled onions are the most genius addition here – found all over taco stands in Mexico, this crowning touch is ignored a lot at restaurants in the US. The onions are sweet and sour, and bring the entire taco to life, much the way that a spritz of lemon enlivens a perfect piece of smoked salmon. The meats themselves are excellent. The pork is juicy but not overly sauced or greasy. The chicken is, shockingly even better – what’s the last time that chicken beat out pork?! Stewed with garlic, onions, and spices, it is popping with flavor and very juicy
Rice, beans, and pico de gallo are also excellent sides. The rice is fluffy and well cooked, with the savory taste of garlic and other aromatics, and the beans are tender but with a bite and smoky, savory flavor. The pico de gallo is made simply but well, with a lot of cilantro to augment the veggies.