52 rue de Saintonge, 3rd
Tel 01 42 74 41 28.
M° Temple or Filles du Calvaire.
Taco Testers: (bottom) Forest, David & Lisa; (top) Phyllis & Meg, Barbra & Zeva.
Last week, after a long day of showing clients around a few typically Parisian neighborhoods, I joined some fellow expat writers for a very un-Parisian dinner at Candelaria. I grew up in Arizona, so when I heard there was a new taco joint in town (and that it was actually Mexican and not “Tex-Mex”), it wasn’t hard to gather a small group together to check it out. Our posse of eight managed to secure the only table available, between the open kitchen and the glass door, and as I arrived they were already being served a tray of tall margaritas (snuck in from the bar…normally only Mexican beers are usually served in the restaurant). Everyone else has to squeeze in along the wall, where a small shelf gives you a place to rest your tapas-sized tacos and tostadas.
It’s nice to have some decent guacamole and tortilla chips in Paris without having to make it myself, and the food is as tasty as it looks. If you like hot food (as in spicy), order the Pollo Pibil. Usually four or five of the menu items are enough to fill you up (depending on how much beer and guacamole you filled up on). I finished with the spicy black bean and chocolate cake. The waitress does a fabulous job of getting food to the table, but I don’t know how anyone can eat (or eat without wearing their food) in the chaos that is the standing-room only section. I would personally prefer to stop back in when it’s not so crowded.
I don’t think that will be anytime soon. By 9pm on a Wednesday night there were small groups pushing through to get into the “hidden” bar in the back. If you’ve been to La Esquida in NYC, it’s the same…only Paris-sized (ie smaller). I think the bar is actually twice the size of the restaurant, but it was hard to tell in the dark. Like many of the speakeasy bars with “mood lighting” it’s also hard to tell what is actually on the cocktail menu, but as they are created by the same mixologist from the Experimental Cocktail Club, you can be sure they’re all more interesting than the average Parisian cocktail bar fare (from €11-€13, or €48 for the pitcher of cachaça punch).
Perhaps if you’re just visiting Paris from anywhere in North America, you don’t need to contribute to the body count in this fine taco haven, but for expats missing a piece of home, it’s worth making a detour.
Calendaria is located in the too-cool-for-you North Marais district.
Open Tues-Sunday, noon-11pm (bar from 6pm-2am).