Culture / Restaurants

Brooklyn’s Best Taco is a Little Restaurant Surprise

These Big Flavors Are Worth a Trip

BY // 10.31.16

Tacos are wonderful things, as I have written, and as most of you know. Simple, full of flavor (or they should be), elemental, satisfying to the core. About a decade ago, I first dined at Palo Santo, a welcoming little restaurant in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, one built and owned by Jacques Gautier, a chef of no mean ability.

He has a small kitchen, one in which big flavors are produced. I’ve enjoyed memorable anticuchos (lamb heart) and some stellar striped bass from the Long Island Sound. And tacos.

Jacques Gautier, chef and owner at Palo Santo, makes a beautiful taco.
Jacques Gautier, chef and owner at Palo Santo, makes a beautiful taco.

This week, Gautier served me a bluefish taco that I will remember long after I return to Houston (even after I get back to Gerardo’s, one of my favorite places to eat within 20 miles of my apartment). The first thing about Gautier’s taco was the tortilla, which you eat minutes after it’s made (in front of you if you sit at the chef’s counter). It’s crisp and moist and hot, with a mouthfeel that mixes textures in a very pleasing manner.

Gautier doesn’t skimp, and he doesn’t show neglect. The bluefish is cooked with care: If you like a crust that lasts the three or four bites this taco requires, you’ll be happy with this one, because that texture, along with the flavor of the fish itself, is worth the evening. Jicama and cilantro round out this taco. (I was dining with a couple I met in Dubai, new to Palo Santo though they live near the restaurant, and I am confident they will return to the brownstone on Union Avenue.)

Gautier offers a tasting menu/chef’s menu nightly, and it’s a great choice. Duck breast and green beans and pomegranate seeds, sirloin and onions, bacalao done in-house … it’s all there. (I’ve also had nopales and ceviche and lamb at Palo Santo, all excellent). He has assembled a small but thoughtful wine list, full of bottles from New York and South America.

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