Thursday, June 2, 2011

First look at Bad Dog Taqueria

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Bad Dogs Korean taco
  • www.facebook.com/BadDogTaqueria
  • Bad Dog's Korean taco
We visited Bad Dog Taqueria (1579 N. Decatur Road, 404-370-8822), the latest newbie in Emory Village, Wednesday night. Let me give you a warning. The intersection there is undergoing transformation to a traffic circle and it's kind of a nightmare. Look for parking behind the Village, off North Decatur.

The new taqueria, opened by Tracy Mitchell and Bardo Arroyave, follows the current trend to turn tacos made with flour tortillas into international cuisine. The best known of this type is Korean tacos typically featuring barbecued meat and kimchee.

Bad Dog has a Korean taco, "We've Got Seoul," that is made with pork belly and "kimchee slaw" drizzled with salsa verde. I found it tasty but I've gotta say it was way too mild for me. In fact, this seems generally true of tacos here. They're all made with first rate, interesting ingredients — many locally sourced — but most need some heat or stronger spices to bump up the flavors. Of course, that's just me. For all I know, Emory students — the taqueria's main customers, I presume — may be among the legions of Atlantans who plead to know, "Is it real spicy? Cuz I can't deal with real spicy."

We also sampled "The Evita," an Argentine taco with marinated flank steak, cripsy yucca and chimichurri sauce. The vegetarian "Bollywood" features curried potatoes and peas, samosa-style. The menu says it's "served with tamarind coriander chutney." I didn't detect it on the taco and it wasn't served on the side.

"Tastes like Chicken" was Wayne's favorite. The filling included plantain-encrusted chicken breast, cilantro sauce, lettuce and tomatoes. A fish taco features the same plantain crust and cilantro sauce but slaw substitutes for the lettuce and tomato.

We started our meal with chips and salsa. Bad Dog uses plantain and boniato chips as well as the usual corn ones. Your $4 buys three salsas — classic fresca, fire-roasted tomato and pineapple-serrano. The latter is another example of weirdly low heat. Serranos? For real? I didn't feel a thing although, again, the concoction was tasty.

Altogether, there are 10 tacos on the menu, plus eight burritos and five salads for people avoiding carbs. All of these are based on the same fillings. Desserts are in the works but not yet available. The taqueria is also awaiting its liquor license. In the meantime, diners can tote their own beer and wine.

The restaurant is only open for dinner now but lunch will be served soon. By all means visit.

Atlanta is in the middle of a true explosion of cantina-style food. Besides Bad Dog, the city has seen recent openings of Scorpion and Big Tex Cantina. Meanwhile Fifth Group Restaurants is planning to open yet another downtown in the fall. Can you say "recession-proof dining"?

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