Well, I’m a huge fan of the Empellón line, I’ve dined at Empellón Cocina and Tacqueria a number of times. Now, with their third installation, Al Pastor in the East Village, I naturally had to pay it a visit.
With the same quality and integrity as their other locations, this spot focuses more on the bar atmosphere, where seating is first come first serve in a quick-serve style, serving up a variety of tequilas and mezcals, and then snacks of tacos, sides, and chips all $4 each and gluten free.
You’ll find similar tie-ins with decor too, like their skull-faced pictures on the wall, but, you’ll also find a gigantic lama, skeletons, stacks of cash mural on the ceiling. Because, what else would you paint there?
To start, I ordered their Classic Margarita (Pueblo Viejo Blanco, fresh lime, smoked salt). Pure delight. Their drinks never disappoint me, and this one is no exception.
First, I had their Guacamole with Chips. The chips are a bit thicker than your average chip, making them substantial and crisp, and not breaking in half with you scoop up some of the rich and creamy guac.
Next, I had their Nopales Taco (nopales, arbol chile, queso fresco, cilantro, onion, salsa). This was great. Served on a soft, yet meaty, corn tortilla, all of the ingredients taste fresh and dynamic. There’s a great heat with this one, but smoothed out a bit from the queso fresco.
Then I had the Oyster Mushroom Taco (oyster mushrooms, a la Mexicana, cilantro, onion, salsa). Now, I couldn’t effortlessly pick out all of the components here, but, I will say it was delicious. The mushrooms and plump, and packed with flavor, and married very well with the other ingredients.
Name: Empellón Al Pastor
Location: 132 St. Marks Place, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure, the drinks are awesome, the food is great and super affordable, and the atmosphere is really relaxed and casual.
Would I recommend it? Yes. I’d recommend either getting there before the crowds (before 7pm), or after (around 9pm) if you want a place to sit and eat. Since it’s all quick-serve, you order at the counter, given a table number, and your food is brought out to you.