Photo provided by Taco y Vino Facebook.

First Bite

First Bite: Taco y Vino in Bishop Arts

A fun addition to the taco scene.

The name Taco y Vino sounds like something that happened when people got together (say, savvy wine drinkers), went for street tacos, and decided to take them home, open a bottle of Rioja, and watch Netflix. Put another way: the apogee for someone who wanted street tacos, but sitting down. And perhaps many people have that dream. Who’s to say?

The cute, Bishop Arts craftsman-style house that bears this name is adorably redone, with a stack of vinyl in the corner and tall bar tables, where you can perch quite civilly. True to form, the wine rack wall is something to behold: an undulating wave of bottles that stretches wall to wall. You can dream of getting locked in with a bottle opener. I found a nice Puglian red by the glass.

Our server was sort of something else, wad of gum secured in a corner of his mouth, talking animatedly about music. About all sorts of things, really, jovially making us feel like neighborhood regulars. The kitchen managed to get our order wrong (regarding my friend’s request of sauces on side), though we were the only order up at that time in the evening. It was partly comical, but mostly endearing (minus the wad of gum).

Meanwhile, the kitchen knows what it’s doing. Which should be no surprise—behind this tiny home is wine professional Jimmy Contreras, joined by chef Sharon Van Meter (who oversees the 3015 at Trinity Groves event space) as culinary supervisor. Their take on upscale street tacos is flavorful and artfully constructed.

Delivered in volleys of three (you can mix and match from eight on the menu; two are vegetarian; check the board for specials), the tacos are cradled in soft, good-quality, bright corn tortillas.

The crispy avocado taco is fabulous. Its crispy panko breading offers a faint, delightful crackle, while the flesh inside remains a pretty, bright green. A rojo aioli kicks up a little spice. Also vegetarian, the Jaca de Pibil, a play on cochinita pibil, stars jackfruit, that vegetable swap-in that’s taking the limelight of pulled pork. With a chewy, slightly meaty texture (a little like pineapple), it successfully takes on the flavor of an achiote slaw and queso fresco. Meanwhile, the plancha-grilled catfish has a wealth of flavor in its blackening spices and more heat and verve from a chipotle aioli. The meat is charred in all the right ways in the carne asada taco, also done a la plancha—simple and carnally satisfying.

I found all of them quite lovely in their presentation. And a final corn flan was smooth and alive with the flavor of sweet summer.

Already, the spot feels neighborhoody, unfussy, and casual. We felt we could linger all night, telling stories, listening to vinyl, plotting our next move on the wine wall, and spooning the last bits of the lovely corn flan.

Will it be a place to go when you don’t know what to do for dinner? I vote yes. It’s a lovely use of the space. And evidence, in my eyes, that tacos and wine are in fact a worthwhile project.