Tacos El Paisa

Brewsta heads south for Mexican fare

Brewsta Jason Pirodsky

Written by BrewstaJason Pirodsky Published on 22.05.2012 16:43:55 (updated on 22.05.2012) Reading time: 5 minutes


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“Texas is a big taco right now. We want to follow that through. Florida is a big tamale.” Dan Rather

Since 2009, Las Adelitas has been the only Mexican restaurant for me in Prague. It was the only one I knew of that was owned and operated by Mexicans.

Cantina, which I think of as Tex-Mex, has many fans, but it never thrilled me.


Now, just beneath the walls of Vyšehrad, there’s a new Mexican-run joint in town. It is Tacos El Paisa, which bills itself as Prague’s first taqueria.

Tacos El Paisa

Las Adelitas has some tacos on their menu, but El Paisa is much more taco-centric. I spoke to one of the managers of El Paisa and he told me he worked for a while with the guys at Las Adelitas.

The new restaurant is just one room, about six tables and a few stools at the bar area.

Tacos El Paisa

The walls are covered in bright pastel-like orange and blue. The dining room is small, but the high ceilings give it an airy, open feeling.

Tacos El Paisa

On my first visit, I started with guacamole and chips (99 CZK). There were chunks of avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro (coriander), and lime juice.

Tacos El Paisa

When I make it myself, I’m not shy with the salt or the lime juice. I like it to make its presence known on the chip.

But theirs was just over the salty/sour line for me. The tortilla chips were heavily salted, too. I had the guacamole again on another visit, and it was much better, so they need to work on consistency.

To wash this down, I ordered up a classic margarita on the rocks with no salt (99 CZK). Excelente!

Tacos El Paisa

It was not too sweet and the tartness of the fresh-squeezed lime juice was just right.

To go with that, I got the Tacos al Pastor (150 CZK).

Tacos El Paisa

It is sliced pork in a chili sauce topped with onion, cilantro, and fresh pineapple. Their corn tortillas are really top notch, and the meat was tender and tasty. I only wished for more pineapple and another lime wedge.

All tacos are served with frijoles charros, basically a bean soup with smoky chorizo mixed in.

Tacos El Paisa

They also come with salsa. I asked for roja and verde, though these tacos didn’t really need much augmentation.

Tacos El Paisa

These are not the chunky salsas you may have experienced with bottled versions and are quite sharp.

I went to Las Adelitas the same week to compare Al Pastors.

Tacos El Paisa

They’ve had an issue for some time with their pork getting dried out. The blue corn tortillas are a nice touch and they’ve added a good chili sauce on the side.

They were more generous with the meat, pineapple and lime, though the price is higher (179 CZK). I prefer their refried black beans and fantastic coriander rice as side dishes.

Both versions of this taco have positives and negatives so I’ll call this one a draw.

It’s worth noting that after two margaritas on a beautiful late afternoon, I saw they make them to go.

Tacos El Paisa

I imagined a plastic-topped cup with a straw, but hey, it worked. I had a refreshing beverage for the long, hot trip up to Letná beer garden that evening.

On my second visit, I went for the Nachos Paisa with chicken (179 CZK).

Tacos El Paisa

The tortilla chips were covered with beans, sour cream, melted cheese, and jalapenos. I found this plate disappointing.

The chicken pieces were juicy and tender but bland. The beans were basic, and the cheese hardened and fused the chips together. I’m not a fan of the thick, salty chips they use.

The question about whether nachos are authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex is for another time and place. These didn’t work for me.

To drink, I had a half-liter of Pilsner Urquell (35 CZK).

Tacos El Paisa

It was perfectly fine.

I took my Italian companion on my third visit. She had the guacamole and liked it. She started with the Ensalada El Paisa con camarones (160 CZK).

Tacos El Paisa

This was lettuce, corn, tomato, avocado, and spring onion.

The six small shrimp were properly cooked, and I liked the garlic-lime dressing. The avocado was not particularly ripe. Overall, we both found the salad dull and uninspired. Perhaps a bit of cilantro would have jazzed it up.

I suggested we try a frozen mango margarita (99 CZK). This was a hit.

Tacos El Paisa

It had the clear flavor of the fruit and just enough sweetness. I only wished for more of a tart note for balance. If you order one, all conversation will grind to a halt for a minute while they noisily turn the ice into slush.

Tacos El Paisa

I got the Tacos de Arrachera (199 CZK). This is the taco with their top quality steak, the equivalent of rib eye.

Tacos El Paisa

The beef was tender and delicious, with not much detectable seasoning beyond salt. It rested on their great corn tortillas, along with chopped onion and cilantro.

There were the frijoles charros and red salsa roja on the side and that’s all. If you want different flavors or heat levels, they have an array of bottles sauces to spice things up even more.

Tacos El Paisa

I liked the fruity Salsa Chamoy.

We could have stopped there, but decided to get one more round of food. We went for the Tacos de Camaron (199 CZK). It’s the same basic arrangement as the beef, but you get four shrimp per taco.

Tacos El Paisa

Unfortunately, the little crustaceans were overcooked and tough.

Service was friendly, with plenty of smiles. It’s hard to judge the efficiency because the restaurant, which is non-smoking, was mostly empty when I was there. There was one point where I had to get up to get a server’s attention.

I didn’t sample everything on the menu, but after three visits, I didn’t feel there was much to pull me back on a regular basis unless I lived close by.

Perhaps it is telling that I was more impressed with the flavor of the soft corn tortillas than that of the meats. I also wished for more variety on the menu.

Tacos with just meat, onions, coriander and salsa are certainly authentic (though defining an authentic taco is like defining an authentic sandwich). But they may be too simple for some.

Given a choice, this gringo is going to go for the more complex dishes on offer at Las Adelitas.

Though there are many similarities, perhaps it’s not a fair to compare Tacos El Paisa with my favorite Mexican restaurant. One is a seasoned veteran and the other just started up.

But fairness does not enter into the equation when I decide where to eat. For me, Las Adelitas is still the big taco in this town.

Tacos El Paisa
Vratislavova 21
Prague 2 – Vyšehrad
Tel. (+420) 223 019 223

Tacos El Paisa

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Brewsta is the creator of Prague’s first English-language food and drink blog, “Czech Please.” He’s now posting a new adventure on Expats.cz once in two weeks.

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