Nixtaco Taqueria is one of the newest spots in Roseville. They opened just over 3 weeks ago at Cirby & Rocky Ridge, previously occupied by the short-lived Bhan Thai. I’ve been hyper aware of their inevitable opening since following them on Facebook several months ago. They are extremely active and had photos to share every day, even if a lot of them were meme-like, to work up anticipation.
Owner Patricio Wise comes from Monterrey, Mexico and brings flavors from that region with him. (random side note, my work has a plant in Monterrey and I look forward to bringing my colleagues here, when they occasionally visit our headquarters, to see what they think). Nixtaco grinds corn and makes tortillas fresh every day, among other items.
I met up with my parents for dinner last night. The space has been hugely updated from when Bhan Thai was here. There is still a bar/counter, but this one is completely new. The space otherwise is rectangular and straightforward, a grid of 2-4 person tables with funky looking chairs (the Thai place had odd chairs too come to think of it). At the end of the bar is the register where you place your order.
The place was fairly packed when I arrived. We were still waiting on my dad who was a few minutes behind, so I meandered up near the register to look at the menu. Patricio greeted me and asked if he could get me started with a beer and said we could pay when we placed the rest of the order. That sounded great so I got a Biere Blanche, a witbier by The Monk’s Cellar on Vernon, took a little table marker and took a seat with a menu.
Obviously the focus here is tacos, but they do have a good selection of appetizers and burritos. They also serve brunch from 11-3 on Sunday. They have 6 tacos to choose from, and if you’re like me you’ll want to try them all, but $3.50 a pop will get a little pricey and you probably won’t be able to finish them all. Nixtaco had me covered though, they have a sampler for just $9 that has one of each of the 6 tacos on a 2.5″ tortilla, little baby tacos! I ordered that and we got some guacamole to share (House made guacamole with real avocado, serrano chiles, tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Chips or tortillas)[$5.50]. My dad ordered the Short Rib Barbacoa burrito (Beef short-rib braised “barbacoa-style” in our guajillo-chipotle and onion braise)[$10] and my mom ordered two of the Shrimp Mazatlan Style tacos (Inspired by the classic “Taco Gobernador”: Sautéed shrimp, with caramelized bacon, garlic, and melted Oaxaca cheese)[$3.50ea].
We were served complimentary salsas, in addition to the guac we had coming. There were 3 or 4 of them, we were fairly certain the two were the same, but I might be wrong. All were tasty and packed a little kick to them, but the most interesting and unique one had a peanut flavoring to it. I found myself continuing to go back to it all throughout dinner.
Our fresh guacamole arrived soon and we dug into it. It was topped with bright red onions pickled in lime juice. In fact, the whole thing had a strong lime flavor to it. It was definitely good, but it would have been nice to be able to taste the avocados themselves a little more. It was about this time that they had a line to the door, which persisted for much of our stay. Things got a bit hectic. We quickly ran out of chips since we were using them for both salsa and guac. I asked someone rushing past our table if we could get some more. It took a little while though. They were clearly overwhelmed with the amount of customers that had, and were continuing to, pile in.
My mom’s tacos arrived first, but had a random 3rd taco with them. It took us a second to realize that this was not part of our order. I think we may have received someone else’s plate, however it did have 2 of the tacos correct. After that there was kind of a long wait before the other items finally came. We were close to asking about them, but it was obvious that they knew something had been mixed up and were trying to find out where it went wrong. Eventually, about 10 minutes after the first tacos arrived, my dad’s burrito and my taco sampler showed up. So we ended up with an extra taco, which appeared to be the Short Rib Barbacoa.
My mom was not crazy about the shrimp tacos, mostly because she didn’t seem to like the sauce that the Oaxaca cheese was melted into, and also because one of the shrimp still had a bit of tail remaining that didn’t get caught in cleaning them. She did enjoy the short rib barbacoa though. On the contrary I loved my shrimp taco. The sauce was much thicker and richer than I was expecting and all three of my shrimp were well cleaned.
The burrito wasn’t much to look at, but my dad liked it. It’s hard to photograph a burrito and have it look good unless you cut it in half and can see into it, so I give the appearance a pass.
My remaining five tacos were:
Chicharron (Pork belly sliced thin and roasted, then diced and sauteed in salsa verde. Lime-pickled onions on top). This was really tasty. The pork was incredibly tender and flavorful. It pretty much melted in my mouth.
Asado Norteño (Pork shoulder diced and slowly stewed in our orange-guajillo adobo. Avocado mousse on top). This was rich and had a lovely citrus flavor to it. Pollo en Mole (Shredded roasted chicken, simmered in our House-made mole. House-made crema and toasted black sesame seeds on top). Easily the messiest of my tacos. This was ok, nothing really stood out to me flavor-wise though.
Short Rib Barbacoa (Beef short-rib braised “barbacoa-style” in our guajillo-chipotle and onion braise. Avocado mousse on top). Similar to the Pollo en Mole, I felt it was a bit one-dimensional.
Finally, the surprise hit and something I know I will be back for repeatedly: Rajas con Queso (Roasted poblano “in rajas”, sauteed with House-made crema, Oaxaca cheese and corn). Who would have guessed that my favorite item would be the vegetarian option?! This was so incredibly delicious, I was picking every last bit of poblano from the plate where it had escaped the little tortilla.
Not every taco was for me, but overall I really enjoyed just about everything. I definitely expect to return for full-sized Rajas con Queso. And there were a few things on the menu that we didn’t order that I am very interested in checking out, including the Roasted Bone Marrow appetizer (something you don’t see too often in this area, but is usually delicious) and, from the brunch menu, the Nixtaco Poached Egg (Mexican take on Scotch Egg: soft poached egg, enrobed in our short rib barbacoa, then covered in masa and deep fried. Served on a bed guacamole with salsas verde and rosa). That sounds amazing!