Shanghai Restaurant Review: Tacolicious

By Sarah Forman, September 28, 2018

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The Place

A collaboration of foodie favorites, Logan Brouse of Logan’s Punch, Adrian Wall of Joe’s Pizza, Thijs Oomens and Saira Shazad of BYFO Hot Sauce have come together to bring Shanghai a new type of taco. Setting up shop on the corner of Yueyang and Dongping Lu in Goga’s former home, they’ve transformed the red-bricked two-story restaurant into a modern Mexican marvel. One of the few spots in the neighborhood with an outdoor rooftop patio, Tacolicious is intimate and trimmed with fairy-light filled tequila bottles.

The Food

Image by Sarah Forman/That's

Heavy at heart, many Americans in particular tend to think ‘large portions’ when it comes to food from south of the border. Tacolicious, however, aims to deliver quality over quantity, and the first instance can be found in the chips served with comically small bowls of delicious salsa and guacamole (RMB40). The deep-fried flour tortilla wedges are dusted in house-made Cajun spice mix that brings a smoky sweetness to their airy crunch.

The tortilla soup (RMB50) is another solid starting point. Green pepper, onion and corn make for mouthfuls of crunchy veg in a light but well-seasoned tomato broth with freshly grilled cubes of juicy chicken and crisp corn tortilla topper.

Now, two tacos might not sound like enough to satiate any real craving, but the double shells put them over the edge. Crispy corn is melded to a soft, flour tortilla by a thick layer of melted cheese. No longer will you have to choose between the two greats – they’ve forever been bound in mozzarella matrimony.

Image courtesy Tacolicious

Purple pickled cabbage brightens up a number of the tacos, our favorite being the classic bean and cheese (RMB55 for two). The corn and legume combo are especially dairy heavy, in soft but crunchy bites that even a true carnivore couldn’t complain about.

The mapo tofu (RMB60) is a pleasantly surprising diversion from the Tex-Mex mix. While the classic dish uses soft bean curd, this iteration uses dried tofu with a firmer texture better suited to a taco situation. The addition of kimchi adds welcome acidity to the tomato and mushroom. While we’d suggest a name change, they are worth an order.

Image by Sarah Forman/That's

The tender carne asado steak (RMB65) pairs really well with crunchy coleslaw and creamy chipotle dressing. Though the real hit is the Szechuan twice cooked pork (RMB65) with a toothsome texture that allows the mala flavor to linger on your palate. A sprinkling of cilantro – common in both Chinese and Mexican cuisine – pulls it all together for a harmonious cross-cultural exchange.

If you’re looking for something lighter, the ceviche (RMB65) comes as an alternative to the carb-heavy items on the menu. Several types of shredded pescado marinate in a punchy citrus sauce, flavored with a hint of spice and green garnish.

Image by Sarah Forman/That's

With a bar backed by Brouse, the cocktails are also one for the books. Made with Capi soda, the Paloma (RMB65) is strong and sweet with a perfectly proportioned lime accent, while the Mexican Mule (RMB60) blends tequila (instead of vodka) with ginger beer for a beverage that carries an earthier taste than its Russian cousin. 

Food Verdict: 2.5/3 

The Vibe

While its compact size and cozy setting are perfect for an intimate, casual meal, the combo can make for longer wait times. That being said, if you’re in good company, and order up a round or two of their well-spiced cocktails, you won’t have much to worry about. Its understated décor is cute and modest, which is breath of fresh air in this sometimes over the top city of ours. 

Vibe Verdict: 1/2

Total Verdict: 3.5/5

Price: RMB125-250 per person                   
Who’s going: those that like a good drink and aren’t married to a traditional idea of Mexican food
Good for: dates, a meal outdoors and long lunches

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]

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See a listing for Tacolicious. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews

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