Haute Taco, a new modern taqueria, is located in the Sendik’s Town Center on Capitol Drive in Brookfield. This area seems to be a hotbed for independent restaurants these days with Haute Taco, North Star American Bistro, and Agave Southwestern Grille joining long-time neighborhood stalwarts Jake’s and Mr. B’s Steakhouse (A Bartolotta Restaurant) in the area. It seems as if the high price of real estate on W. Bluemound Road has pushed the indie restaurants to other places in Brookfield and Capitol Drive is the beneficiary. Haute Taco is the brainchild of Jake and Karen Replogle who also own Jake’s, which has long been famous for its steaks and prime rib, which I think is some of the best I have had anywhere.
On a recent Thursday evening I was surprised that there was a 45 minute wait for a table. I didn’t realize this place was that popular. However I don’t mind waiting and 45 minutes can go by very quickly when you are having a couple beers or margaritas with friends. We ended up being seated in less than 30 minutes. The first thing I noticed was how small and intimate the dining room is. I guess I am used to walking into these monolithic chains on Bluemound Road. There is also a decent amount of outdoor seating. It looked to me like they have room to expand should the need arise.
They have an impressive list of cocktails and I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite drinks, the Caphrina on the menu. This drink, made with Cachaca (Brazilian sugarcane liquor) and limes, is quite refreshing and packs a punch. But I was in the mood for a beer, so I ordered a Dos Equis. They also have a signature drink called the Haute Pink Margarita which is made from 1800 Reposado Tequila, Triple Sec, and Hibiscus.
We tried the trio of salsas which included a bright and extremely fresh tasting tomatillo salsa, a hotter chili de arbol salsa and a traditional fresh salsa. I liked the earthy taste and spice of the de arbol salsa the best. The guacamole is also very delicious. Our dining companions tried the tortilla soup and raved about it. It looked and smelled awesome.
Pinto beans put to shame the industrial glop you see at many local Mexican restaurants and they may be the best beans I have ever experienced at a Mexican restaurant since I tried the frijoles charros at La Estacion in Waukesha (which sadly they only seem to serve with the Pollo o bistec Zamora). Try them with a side of lime rice. The acidity of the lime helps cut through the richness of the beans.
You have a choice of corn, flour, or hard shell tacos. I had all of mine in corn. Each taco comes with two soft corn shells because they tend to rip if you use only one. Given how stuffed these tacos were, this was a good idea. The standout tacos were the steak and the carnitas. The duck were also very delicious. The carnitas were served with a nice pineapple salsa which balanced the rich shredded pork. I also added a bit of sour cream and guacamole to each taco. Least impressive were the short rib tacos. They just sort of tasted like shredded beef and lacked the rich, beefy flavor I have come to expect when eating short ribs. It seemed like it needed something else to wake up the flavor. With that being said, these tacos are still be better than many of the shredded beef tacos I have had at Mexican Restaurants in the area.
Another must try is the Elote Mexican. For two bucks you get two half cobs of corn on the cob. Each one is slathered with Mexican crema, crumbled queso fresco (or maybe Cotija) cheese, and a dusting of cayenne pepper. There is also a couple of limes which you can squeeze on the corn. The result is an excellent mix of flavors with the sweetness of the corn, the creaminess provided by the crema, a bit of heat from the cayenne, and a cooling bit of acidity provided by the lime.
Try the “Bullied” Jalapenos at your own risk. Our server warned us that they were really hot. I am not sure how they managed to extract so much heat from a Jalapeno but it was blistering hot. I ate one small sliver and my mouth was on fire. I ended up chopping some tiny pieces of the pepper and adding it to my tacos but unless you like extremely hot peppers, I wouldn’t order these.
As evidenced by the wait for a table on a weeknight, this place is really popular but even with a packed dining room service was very good. Our server must have thought we waited too long for our food (we thought it came out in a timely manner) because he comped us a couple of beers and apologized for the delays. The only thing I would like is larger plates for the tacos. They are served on rectangular plates not unlike what you find at sushi bars. While they are nice to look at, there isn’t much room for taco spillage and unless you are careful the insides of your taco may spill out onto the table instead of the plate.
For anyone who claims that all Mexican restaurants serve food that tastes the same, I would urge you to give Haute Taco a try for a new and interesting take on a casual taqueria. They are trying to use higher quality (think hormone free pork) and, where possible, locally sourced ingredients including Maple Leaf Farms duck. They are truly elevating Mexican food to a new level, especially in the suburbs where bland and uninspired Mexican is commonplace.
Haute Taco is located at 8905 West Capitol Dr. Suite 110 Brookfield, WI 53045 Phone: 262-781-1110. On the web at http://hautetaco.com/. Other reviews and articles:Shepherd Express Review, MKE Threeview,
EatWisconsin Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Rating Guide: 0=Absolutely terrible, avoid at all costs, 1=Bad, 2=Mediocre/Average, 3= Admirable, 4=Excellent, 5=Sublime