Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: In Pursuit of Vegan Tacos at Orale! Kitchen

I've said it once, and I'll say it again.  I love vegetarian tacos.  Heck, I'm even a bigger fan of vegan tacos.  They're generally so fresh and so flavorful.  I've tried vegan and vegetarian tacos all around town, so when I heard that Orale! Kitchen serves up a mean vegan avocado taco, I had to stop in and give the place a try.

From reading Yelp reviews, I learned that Orale! Kitchen is the brainchild of the folks who run an award winning stand inside of the West Side Market.  Best known for their salsas, I was pretty excited to sample some of their salsa along with one of their vegan offerings. 

I headed to the OC on a breezy fall night to meet a friend for dinner.  It took me a minute to notice that Orale! Kitchen is located right next to Ohio City Burrito in a small storefront.  There was tons of free parking within a short walking distance, which was nice, and my friend actually got a spot right outside of the restaurant.

I'd heard that Orale! Kitchen is generally kind of empty, but I walked in and there were a few full tables.  And since there are so few tables to begin with, the few patrons made the place seem almost bustling.  Almost. 

There was one waitress tending to the small crew of people in the small space.  She immediately informed us that Orale! Kitchen is byob, and gave us directions for purchasing booze within walking distance.  Water was fine for us, though, but I appreciated the gesture. 

Within a few minutes of sitting down, our waitress brought us some fresh chips and salsa.  A red tomato salsa and a green tomatillo salsa.  They were delicious!  Especially the tomatillo salsa!  And definitely the highlight of my meal.  I did notice that other people around us got different salsa.  I guess you get whatever they have a lot of on hand at the time?

I debated over what to order off the dinner menu.  There were two vegan options.  Yes, two vegan options.  I'm normally tickled pink to see a vegetarian option, let alone two vegan ones, but...I had to go with the tacos.  I also started off with a salad with plantain chips.  It was kind of bland to me, and I thought it was odd that it used what appeared to be an iceberg mix of lettuce.  So back to the tacos...

I don't know what I expected when I ordered the vegan avocado tacos, but what I got wasn't quite it.  I'd read that the avocado was beer battered, so on some level, I understood that they'd be deep fried, but I guess I didn't realize how deep fried they would be.  To me, there was more "fried" than avocado, if that makes sense.  All I could really taste was deep fried something.  Not that there's anything wrong with deep fried anything, but...I was expecting something a little bit lighter.  They were still pretty good though.  (And they probably would have been even better if they came with more salsa to slather on top!)

Overall, my dinner at Orale! Kitchen was pretty good.  I'd definitely go back and skip the salad, bring a bottle of skinny margaritas with me, and try the other vegan option.  Oh, and probably eat a gallon of the tomatillos salsa.

This is definitely a neat little spot to check out.  Support the Cleveland food scene and the restaurants that support vegans and vegetarians!

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