For a girl hailing from Southern California, New York is a pretty big change. The winters are colder and snowier—the winters actually exist—the public transportation is more compact and coherent, and good tacos are increasingly harder to find. At home, the closest place to get tacos is probably less than a mile in any direction, but the taco scene in Morningside Heights is generally lacking. (Obviously the Brunch with Bear team has its work cut out for them.)
And so, after a history of blogging about Italian restaurants, noodle soup, and ice cream, and as winter approaches quickly, we finally bring you to Mòle, a fabulous restaurant with fabulous tacos. As I’ve said before, my family loves to eat, and we decided to bid farewell to a delicious summer with a delicious meal.
Mòle is located on 2nd Avenue, between 89th and 90th Streets, most easily accessible from the 86th Street station on the 4, 5, and 6 trains. What looks like another unassuming Upper East Side eatery is a warm and aromatic haven full of hustle, bustle, and large portions.
The restaurant itself is impossibly loud and crowded, but excellent for people watching. Over the course of our meal, we observed several first—possibly blind—dates, which, of course, gives Mòle points for entertainment. A particularly crowded Thursday summer evening meant that we waited about fifteen minutes for a table, which was situated farther back in the restaurant.
Mòle has an extensive bar and an extensive menu, which is a little more expensive than your average SoCal taco shack. The waiter assured me that they were very used to food allergies, and double-checked in the kitchen just in case. He said he would make sure no cheese or other contaminants made it near my plate! So I went with the classic steak tacos, a personal favorite, and sat back to enjoy the music-filled, lime-scented atmosphere.
The plates took their time getting to the table, so I would caution the rushed diner that Mòle is a place for a leisurely, lingering meal. And if you’re a slow eater or a big talker, factor in extra time, because the plates are practically overflowing. While the menu suggests that each taco plate has two tacos, the double tortillas and excessive amount of steak became four incredible filling tacos. Add the limes—rarer in NYC, thanks to the Great Lime Shortage—and the Spanish rice and the beans and the spicy-but-not-too-spicy salsa and you have a taco plate that approaches perfection.
The meal was not only massive, but also messy. As I mentioned before, there were several dates and maybe-dates around us, but I would not personally recommend a taco extravaganza for making first impressions. We attacked our meals with the kind of zeal that results in silence, save for chewing and swallowing—maybe not even chewing for some of us. Tacos are unique in that the sauces can drip from either end of the taco, as well as through the holes that you’ve inadvertently poked with your attempt to build the perfect bite, so it’s a finger-food, family affair kind of situation. Of course, if you must, forks are provided.
Mòle was the perfect environment for eavesdropping and bonding, all over a great meal with great service. As I mentioned, the taco plates are slightly more expensive than I would expect, but then again, the portions are slightly larger than I would expect. Definitely the kind of meal that keeps giving—as in tomorrow’s lunch. While Manhattan may never compare to the taco scene of Southern California, Mòle is an oasis of tacos in a taco-less desert.