I wonder if the folks at Publico planned to open on Friday the 13th.
That kind of ominous opening might imply that I had a terrible experience there, which is quite the opposite. I left a bit before noon to avoid the parking crunch in Five Points and was rewarded with a spot not too far away.
The first thing you notice about Publico is the decor. I had to laugh at all of the hipster restaurant cliches that they fulfilled there but you know what, it comes together nicely. Male bartenders and servers in plaid shirts? Check. Reclaimed wood walls? Check. Sputnik light? Check. Garage door windows rolled up to reveal a beautiful November day? Check.
I can’t say anything about hipsterness though, I was at the bar Instagramming my meal with my iPhone. Check.
Publico offers fusion tacos, tosados, burgers, and other Mexican-ish-Asian-ish fusions, along with a pretty sizeable tap list. I went for the lunch special which was two tacos and a side, the two tacos being the agedashi tofu and the avocado crunch with Mexican sticky rice.
The agedashi tofu taco was easily my favorite. The tofu had to be flash fried, it was crisp on the outside and perfectly puffy on the inside. The peanut sauce brought the whole taco together. And it didn’t seem weird that the mostly Asian-ish flavors were in a tortilla. A tortilla, by the way, that was the perfect size for the amount of ingredients that were put in it. I hate eating tacos in public because they are insanely messy and drippy, but this taco gave me no embarrassing drips or spills or smears of food on my face.
The avocado crunch is going to be what guac lovers want to order. I am not a guac lover. Next time I’d ask for them to go light on the guac, but this second meatless taco was still a winner. The flavors were bright and crisp, plus the fried avocado was actually pretty good, again, for someone who isn’t a guac/avocado lover. I like it but only in small amounts. This taco could have benefitted from some hot sauce, now that I think about it. Next time.
The Mexican sticky rice wasn’t anything to write home about but is a good palate cleanser between tacos, or to help wash away the heat if you did put extra hot sauce on your meal.
I didn’t order any beer since I will be at Arts & Draughts tonight at the Columbia Museum of Art, but am looking forward to going back to Publico for more tacos, but with a beer next time. Other menu items that caught my eye include the Caribbean nachos, and the tostada con cero for the meat eaters. Here’s the appetizer section of the menu for a taste of their fusion offerings.
Happy Friday the 13th to all, and remember to be nice to the servers at brand new restaurants. Publico is located in the space that formerly housed Garibaldi’s.