In the much homier part of Bushwick, next to the Myrtle Broadway intersection, which if not an aorta is one of the more important vessels of the city — at least not one you’d want cut—, La Lupe Cantina sticks out. The bar is made of wood coated in chipping white paint. It reminds me of the houses in the parts of San Antoñio my parents are from. As opposed to El Cortez’s Isley Brothers, La Lupe plays Mexican pop music. I recognize Natalia Lafourcade’s voice. They offer the full complement of tacos: carne asada, pollo, carnitas, chorizo, a vegetarian option, and an al pastor taco though it was a bit off menu. Its advertised on a chalkboard off the side.
I start with that little cross cultural traveler, the al pastor taco. It is well thought out. At first, it is brought out without the pineapple. Me and the Mexican bartender look at it and know something has gone wrong. She takes it back and completes it. Instead of chunks of pineapple, La Lupe uses thin taco-length spears. This is ideal. This ensures that every bit has an even amount of the sweetness to compliment the subtle spice of the pork which has not been marinated too much.
The carne asada is also done just right. No fancy spices; just salt and its toppings. The carne asada has the wonderful sensation that steak imparts: the strange pleasure in the teeth. The slight pull that then gives before there is a struggle. It’s all left up to the steak. As for the pollo.
There is nothing wrong with the pollo. It is a perfectly good taco but is the least interesting of the four I got. Unless absolutely necessary, best to stick to the more bombastic offerings. Especially the chorizo.
The chorizo is the platonic ideal of a taco. Each ingredient is in perfect proportion. Yes, there is grease but this is chorizo and there should be grease. The spice is warm without biting.
Each taco is topped with cilantro, radish, and an incredible avocado salsa that combines the best of guacamole and a salsa verde. The white corn tortillas perform admirably. No tears. This place is a place I could see myself enjoying every day. The decor is toned down abuela style: lots of room but here and there lie the clutter of Mexican cultural knick knacks. Tons of images of la Calavera Catrina, ceramic pieces, Mexican beers named after death. The bartender Paola is kind and not overbearing. She makes delicious margaritas that are heavily reliant on a good lime as the other ingredients are not the highest quality. But they are five dollars and so I have two.
La Lupe Cantina is located at 9 Jefferson St., Brooklyn, NY 11206