the Woodson Terrace Mexican restaurant Taqueria los Tarascos
(4444 Woodson Road; 314-890-8668) in March 2008, I began by praising the lamb barbacoa:
The meat is tender and slightly fatty, the flavor undeniably lamb: rich, with a gamy tang. You fold chunks of meat and, in my case, a heavy spoonful of the restaurant's sharp and spicy salsa verde, into a warm, soft flour tortilla, and repeat until the chafing dish is empty and you swear you won't be able to eat again for a week.
You can read this review at the restaurant itself. A reproduction is posted inside the main entrance. However, you can't order the lamb barbacoa or several other of the dishes that I praised. Taqueria los Tarascos' menu has changed.
A regular reader and fellow Taqueria los Tarascos fan emailed this morning to alert me of the changes. I headed there for lunch, settled into a booth and noshed on complimentary chips and salsa while I nervously perused the menu.
The most obvious omission, given the restaurant's name, is the taqueria fare: The only tacos available now are gringo-friendly -- for my review, I sampled tacos with al pastor
pork, suadero and chicharrones, among others meats -- while the tortas are gone altogether.
The tortas' absence is especially disappointing because Taqueria los Tarascos is -- or, rather, was the one St. Louis restaurant where I found the torta ahogada, a pork sandwich with árbol chile sauce poured all over it.
Comparing the new menu to the old menu (I kept a copy in my desk drawer o' menus), I find that numerous other dishes have vanished: sopes, tostadas, huaraches, anything with lamb. Burritos and quesadillas remain, but in Americanized versions (i.e., you can no longer order a cochinita pibil
quesadilla). New dishes include fajitas as well as numerous steak and chicken preparations.
In general, the new menu looks exactly like the menus at most other Mexican restaurants in town. The employee whom I asked about the changes said the menu alterations were the product of greater involvement by one of the two families who own the restaurant.
Some dishes do remain from the previous menu, including two I mentioned in my review: the mole poblano and the camarones a la diabla
I tried the mole poblano (pictured above), which is now served over boneless chicken breast. The sauce tasted much more simplistic than I'd remembered, the chocolate sweetness not giving way to "a blast of warming spices." The chicken was tired. Judging by the thickness of the pieces and the relative quickness with which the meal arrived, I suspect that it had been reheated to order.
Of course, this is one dish, not a comprehensive review. Fans of the restaurant will have to make up their own minds about the changes. But to those of you venturing there for the first time, please ignore the review posted inside the front door. It seems that, even more so than usual, Ian Froeb doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.