WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Taqueria-style Mexican cafes were waiting to happen in New Orleans. It’s odd that the hurricane triggered their proliferation around the city. Felipe’s straddled the divide between the Americanized Tex-Mex restaurants we always had here and the true Mexican taqueria. The latter is to Mexico what the hamburger stand is to America. It certainly has a fast-food aspect, but stops well short of becoming Taco Bell.
Felipe’s deceptively small menu offers more possibilities than it seems. Pick a variety of meat, a kind of tortilla, and a salsa or garnish, and it might be the only taco of that kind sold this year. Most of it is pretty good, but since most of it comes up from a steam table, it’s doesn’t have a sharp edge. But at these prices it’s hard to argue. The crowd skews to the young side.
The original Felipe’s opened in 2004 in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Yes, Boston. That the next location wound up opening in late 2006, on a Broadmoor side street that had six feet of Katrina floodwater just a year before seems odd. The local connection is Elio Todaro, whose wine store next door already brought in a lot of traffic. The New Orleans group opened the second Felipe’s in the French Quarter earlier this year, in the former Hooter’s.
Both locations have simple, self-serve dining rooms. One steps up to a cafeteria-style line to place and pick up orders.
You choose a tortilla style, a meat, and a topping. Or more than one.
»Burritos (flour tortilla, beans and salsa).
Quesadilla (grilled flour tortilla, cheese and salsa).
Chimichanga (fried burrito).
Tacos (crisp or soft tortilla, beans, cheese, lettuce).
Tostada (crisp corn tortilla, beans, cheese, lettuce).
»Carnitas (pulled pork).
»Al pastor (pineapple-marinated shaved pork).
FOR BEST RESULTS
If you’re willing to try anything, ask what came out of the kitchen most recently and get that. They cook in small batches, but I’ve had as much tepid food as hot.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I’ll never get used to eating anything from atop waxed paper in a plastic basket.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Value +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open after midnight
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Easy, nearby parking