photo credit: Suzi Pratt
Pablo y Pablo
Barrio is our favorite upscale Mexican spot in town. So when the same restaurant team opened Pablo y Pablo, a more taco-focused place in Wallingford, we were ready to be blown away. We weren’t, but not because this place isn’t good - more because the bar was so high.
Pablo y Pablo is smaller than Barrio, but it’s actually easier to get into, and it’s in a non-congested part of the city with free parking. The menu is full of trustworthy classics, as well as some more inventive options like fried hominy and an excellent Mexican riff on an Italian chopped salad.
And then there are the tacos: 13 varieties, all made with housemade tortillas. Options range from the basics, like braised chicken and baja fish, to a category simply called “baller” that includes fillings like pork belly banh mi, boar meatballs, and fried soft shell crab. They can be a bit hit or miss - a hard taco with vegan chorizo and cashew cheese sauce is really delicious, while the pineapple and bacon taco is unpleasantly limp. Overall, the food here is good - just not good enough for you to travel for it.
One thing Pablo y Pablo is especially suited for is an early in the game date. The big bar, small tables, and many candles make for an atmosphere perfect for getting to know someone. If nothing else, you will at least figure out how good your date is at using an eyedropper, since for some reason, that’s how you add hot sauce to your food here.
If you’re aiming for an outstanding Mexican meal, head to Barrio for better food, better cocktails, and an overall nicer ambience. But if you’re simply looking for a laid-back meal over tacos, Pablo y Pablo is a good option. If Barrio is taco heaven, Pablo y Pablo is more like a pleasant rest stop on the way there.
Pablo Chopped Salad
This is a riff on an Italian chopped salad that has chickpeas, romaine, kale, pickled peppers, and an oregano vinaigrette, as well as cotija cheese (instead of provolone) and cured chorizo (instead of salami). Plus avocado and spiced pepitas on top. Definitely something we’d order again.
Seared Steak Tacos
Tender marinated steak with a spicy cascabel salsa, sliced avocado, onion, and cilantro. It’s simple and excellent and our favorite taco here.
Vegan Chorizo Tacos
Non-vegans, you’ll want to order these on purpose. They’re made with meatless chorizo, a spicy and cumin-y cashew cheese sauce, shredded lettuce, and pico de gallo, plus a homemade crispy corn tortilla. And they put any roasted squash or portabello tacos you’ll find elsewhere to utter plant-based shame.
Pork Belly Banh Mi Tacos
The pork belly in this is slightly tough, but it’s still an interesting mashup we’d recommend.
Baja Fish Tacos
Not the best fish taco in the city - the beer batter is a little greasy - but it has a good crunch to it, and portion of rockfish is massive.
Grilled Pineapple & Bacon Tacos
It’s hard to make bacon unappetizing, but this stuff was. Skip.
Chipotle Braised Chicken Tacos
Picky eaters don’t have to exit the restaurant in tears - these chicken tacos (topped with romaine, crema, and salsa) are pretty basic and reliably good. There are better tacos to be had here, though.
Chipotle Braised Chicken Enchiladas
A textbook example of well-executed enchiladas. You can choose between a red or green sauce, or get half-and-half, but we prefer the red.