Midtown’s Empellón Innovates Tacos || Eat Seeker

Midtown’s Empellón Innovates Tacos  || Eat Seeker

– Everyone loves tacos. Everyone has an opinion on what a taco is. So by tweaking that concept a little bit, you can piss people off, but it also can open people’s eyes up. “Empellón” is an unusual word. It’s a Spanish word that means “to push.” What “empellón” means is to push something or someone out of your way. And I know that seems like a
weird idea for a restaurant, but really the name is a
personal reminder for me. To me the thing that you’re trying to push out of your way is your own fear, your own anxiety, your own worries that you can’t achieve something. So to me, so long as
that name’s on the door, I have a reminder that there needs to be progression, and there always needs to be this willingness to take it all to the next level. There really isn’t such a
thing as New York City cuisine. Problem is that we have everything. I think the New York
mentality is we’re gonna do whatever we want. And we certainly apply that to our tacos. I mean, it has to be a great taco, which means it’s a great tortilla with a great thing on
it and some great salsa. But other than that, we pretty
much set ourselves free. So what would a New York City taco be? A lot of the food we’re
cooking here now has to do with our neighborhood. As New Yorkers, we all
know that the neighborhoods each have their own personality. And when we were looking
at Midtown, we were really trying to put our finger
on what the pulse is here. What is Midtown all about? Walking around the neighborhood, I’ve never seen a greater
concentration of steakhouses. Some of our tacos are completely informed by what’s on other menus around us that have nothing to do
with Mexican cooking. So you go to a steakhouse in Midtown, you’re gonna get hash browns, right? That was the idea for a hash brown taco. We have a falafel taco. I’ve never seen one before. But when you really get past the idea of putting falafel on the tortilla and really break down what it is, it actually makes perfect sense. We take Mexican fava beans. We flavor them with
cilantro and arbol chile. We roll those into little
Balls, and we fry it. We make a tahini of sorts. But the tahini is fortified
with grasshoppers. When I think of a quintessential
New York City food stop, I think of Katz’s Deli. So we put that on a tortilla. Then we make a salsa out of mustard seeds, and it’s not anything that you could find in Mexico or anywhere else, but it seems to make sense to me. I spent quite a bit of
time as a pastry chef. Somewhere along the way I
fell in love with desserts and the sweet side of the kitchen. I love the manipulation of
it, the creativity of it. The thing about desserts that allows you to be creative is that
when you’re making dessert, the ingredient can disappear sometimes. That love of pastry definitely
manifests here at Empellón. My focus now is the entire restaurant, but pastry is still my favorite
part of any restaurant. We have one dessert which
is on fire right now. It’s extremely popular. It’s an avocado parfait. We puree our avocados. We make this delicious parfait out of it. But then we actually reform it to look like its original self. So it’s visually memetic
of a half an avocado. So the same philosophy
that we have for desserts, that there needs to be a surprise, we try to apply that as much as we can in the savory cuisine as well. We do crab nachos here. It’s a seafood version of nachos. We have tortilla chips
that we fried fresh. Top them with chopped heirloom tomatoes, a whole bunch of crab. And to me, nachos always
need a cheese sauce. And not a fancy cheese sauce. They need that orange,
Velveeta-looking stuff. So what we do is we puree sea urchin. We get sea urchin from Hokkaido. Some of the best sea urchin you can buy. Puree it, add a little
bit of chipotle chili, a little bit of butter — and that’s the sauce. Now when you think about it, that’s a logical sauce for crab, but also what I love about it is that bright orange color. So when people look at it, they think it’s nacho cheese sauce. But it actually isn’t. It’s a seafood puree. I learned something about myself through this whole process. I’m not capable of simply
following the recipe. So what you have now, many people would argue isn’t Mexican. I’m so proud that we’re
getting these combinations of flavors into the mouths of Midtowners. Because to me it’s symbolic
of something bigger. It’s symbolic of cultural shift.

11 Replies to “Midtown’s Empellón Innovates Tacos || Eat Seeker

  1. Looks great, but this guy has been bragging about his "ground breaking" tacos on YouTube for 5 years. Just comes off as a commercial.

  2. Falafel Tortilla is basically a Felafel in a Laffa (Taboon bread) which is a very common thing in Israel and the middle east (and you can find it in NYC as well). The consept of Falafel Tacos is also exist in the US for some time… so the fact that Alex Stupak say that he "never seen one before" as if he invented it, it's just arrogance.

  3. Thrillist, what are you doing to me? I'm gonna need to book a flight to New York … and that's not happening any time soon with a baby on the way 😛

  4. treat ur servers well they work hard I've had great meals at high end and corner resterants many times I've told the server how great a meal was and to tell the kitchen my compliments and the chef has come out to thk us💟

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