Salvation Taco is where you go to eat amazing lamb, in a bar that reminds you of the common room at college â€“ all mismatched furniture, paper lanterns, ping pong tables and lanky dudes wearing backpacks. This latter, accounted for by the fact that you are in the lobby of the Pod Hotel.
Perhaps youâ€™ve been craving a game or two of competitive Jenga or Scrabble or Kerplunk! And you find yourself at Grand Central and realize, thereâ€™s nowhere else near here. Perhaps the lure of the headliners, April Bloomfeild and Ken Friedman, aka team Spotted Pig and The Breslin draws you taco-ward. Or perhaps you, like me, will totter out of a Slapfight show at 11pm (shameless plug for my sketch team there), and need a damn fine margarita.
In any of these cases you may well find yourself, as we did, curling your legs under a low slate coffee table, and studying menus. Jon, 6 foot 3, balanced on a wooden stool, Ingyn, 5 foot 3, struggled to escape the embrace of an overstuffed armchair. We scooped guacamole as the kind of music that gets censored on the radio boomed around us. If weâ€™d be 23 this would have been the height of cool.
Since we are not, we all secretly wished for real dining furniture.
Food at Salvation Taco is delivered â€œas itâ€™s readyâ€. You might find yourself eating your pumpkin empanadas before your margaritas turn up, and youâ€™ll be half way through your house-made chorizo hand pies before you get that water you asked for when you sat down. Half of the table will be crunching into smoky roasted cauliflower tacos, while the other half wait impatiently for carne asada tacos with addictive pickled peppers. The anticipation is worth it.
And then there’s the lamb. Â It was the lamb that drew us to Salvation Taco in the first place, and itâ€™s the lamb that keeps us coming back.
So letâ€™s talk about the lamb â€“ a shoulder joint, slow cooked, and served in a low earthenware pot, family style, ready to go, with a basket of fresh, house-made soft tacos, a smooth tangy crema, and a spicy cucumber salsa for crunch. The meat is ebony, dark and crusted on the outside, spoon-apart tender and sweet within. Nobody talks. We eat in contemplative silence, in the glow of the multi-colored twinkle lights.
Salvation Taco 145, East 39th Street,Â 212 865 5800
Whatâ€™s the damage?
Guac and chips – $9
Cauliflower Tacos (3) – $14
Braised Lamb Shoulder (enough for 3 or 4) $38
Frozen Margarita – $13