Tacos tacos tacos… I could eat tacos all the time. It’s one of my favourite dishes. And because of that, it’s the reason I’ve named my blog after it: Tacovolution. With the love for tacos comes the love for Mexican food (or TexMex). The spiciness, crunchiness, freshness and use of simple ingredients means that most Mexican dishes are always scrumptious.
So cue in El Pistolero, located in Constantia Park in Pretoria. El Pistolero has been open for over a year and a half and while I’ve known about for a while, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the restaurant. So after an Eat Out labelled it as one of the restaurants to check out in Pretoria, I knew I needed to have a taste.
El Pistolero is next to Woodstock Urban Pizzeria and I almost walked into it. El Pistolero is to the left of the pizza place and is yellow. It has some great seating options: inside, non-smoking outside and smoking outside. As soon as I entered the restaurant, a waiter welcomed me and let me choose where I wanted to sit and then brought the drink and food menu. After my friend arrived, which was 5 minutes after I was seated, the waiter came by ready to take our drink orders. We ordered margaritas (how can you not?), a Marga-rona and Tepache.
The Tequila Margarita was refreshing. It was made from tequila, grapefruit, lime, and sugar syrup. Our waiter assured us that the grapefruit and lime were fresh, and it was indeed. The rim of the drink was also salted well. It was a well-made margarita.
The Marga-Rona is now one of my favourite drinks. It combines my two favourite Mexican beverages: margarita and Corona. A Corona is added to the margarita giving it a cider taste. If the tequila in margaritas becomes too much for you, then this drink is perfect (given that you can handle a light beer).
We also tried the Tepache, which is a fermented pineapple drink. It’s quite refreshing and the fermentation is not overbearing. It’s the perfect drink if you like pineapple in your alcohol or alcohol in your pineapple.
Already, no fault with the drinks, so I was salivating by the time the starters arrived.
Unfortunately, El Pistolero had run out of Jalapeno Poppers. I was disappointed because I had been thinking about them for a week. Luckily, there are plenty of options. We ordered the Ceviche and Sweet Street Snack.
The Sweet Street Snack was mango, green melon and cucumber. The fruit/veg is sprinkled with chili powder which makes an interesting combination: refreshing and spicy. For a starter, it’s perfect. It’s light, refreshing and tasty. And it’s a big portion. It would be way too big for one person and for 2 people, it’s still just a little too much. But I would order it again. Especially on a warm Pretoria day.
The other starter was ceviche. Ceviche, if you’re not familiar with it, is a seafood dish in which fresh raw fish is cured in citrus juices (lime or lemon). El Pistolero’s ceviche is hake or yellowtail fish that is cured in lime and orange juices. It is accompanied by nachos, red peppers, and pickled Jalapeños. The ceviche is delicious. It’s fresh, crunchy (from the nachos and red peppers) and spicy. It’s a well-rounded dish. And even though we were almost full from the street snack, and trying to keep place for our mains, we made a point of finishing off the ceviche. Again, I’d happily order the ceviche. Jalapeño poppers for what?
After the tasty starters, it was onto the mains. We ordered the Cordero Taco and Gringa Taco. Like I said, we came for the tacos. Both taco dishes are served with soft corn tortillas.
The Cordero taco is slow-cooked leg of lamb in adobo (a marinade/sauce made from paprika, oregano, salt, garlic and vinegar). Accompanying the lamb is crema (a soured, thin cream), mint salsa, pumpkin seed salsa and potatoes. The taco was amazing. The lamb was tender, the salsas added flavour and spiciness and the potatoes added a softness and earthiness. I really enjoyed the taco.
The second taco dish was the Gringa taco, which is marinated beef short-rib, guacamole and parmesan crisps. This was my favourite out of the 2 dishes, even though the beef was a bit tough. The dish was spicy, more spicier than the first taco dish, but it was crunchy and had more flavour. I enjoyed the crisps and could’ve eaten a plate of it. But if you’re not a favour of spiciness, I’d give this dish a miss. My mouth was on fire for a good few minutes 😛 .
After that spicy experience, we ordered churros with dark chili chocolate and milk jam caramel. The churros were crunchy and sweet. I could’ve eaten them just as they were, with the milk jam caramel. But the chocolate did add more sweetness and spiciness. It was a well-rounded dessert. There was nothing I would’ve changed.
Overall, I had a great experience at El Pistolero. Every dish was tasty and filling. I would happily order any of the above dishes again. And the dishes are also well-priced.
The service is also fantastic. The waiter was always available when we needed him and he cleared up the table without being asked to. And finished dishes or straw wrappers were removed quickly.
In terms of ambiance, I could’ve spent a few more hours at El Pistolero. It has a great vibe. The restaurant is airy, the decor Mexican and the music transports you to Mexico or Texas.
I would happily go back to El Pistolero and I’m disappointed that I didn’t go earlier. It’s an amazing restaurant. Therefore, I give El Pistolero 4 cupcakes.
No rating (read: why have you even bothered to open)
Poor (read: shit)
Average (read: meh)
Good (read: above mediocrity)
Very Good (read: fling your money at them. It’s worth it)
Extraordinary (read: if you have to make a sacrifice to be here, do it)