Yxta Cocina Mexicana - Happy Hour
by Tara Redfield
HOT. That's the word I have to describe the happy hour, or "Hora Feliz" rather, at Downtown's Yxta Mexican Cantina. Hot in every sense of the word, flavor, temperature and the looks of the menu...straight up HOT.
I had my first encounter with Yxta's Hora Feliz this past Tuesday with some co-workers. I was the first to arrive and eagerly planted myself at the bar. My other two guests were running 20 minutes late. I didn't care. While staring at a wall of tequila, I felt at home.
The hostess brought me two menus: Happy Hour and Dinner. We know which one I looked at first. I scanned the entire thing immediately...lots of margaritas and tacos...it was love at first sight. I thought I would be classic and get the Yxta Margarita, but then I thought, "No, do something different!" I ordered the Jamaica Margarita.
I didn't know what "Jamaica" was and completely mispronounced it when I asked the bartender, but, she was very kind in correcting me and in answering the question. Jamaica is actually the same as Hibiscus. It is not the island (noted). The mixture of the sweet red juice and Centenario Rosangel was the perfect potion. It was the best tequila kiss I've ever had.
Below the drink list, was an ongoing selection of nearly every taco you could imagine, each described to perfection. For example Tacos de Papa: spicy mashed potatoes, cabbage, crema fresca, queso fresca. Or, how about Tacos al Pastor: marinated pork, pineapple, red onions, cilantro. Don't forget Tacos de Pescado: crispy white fish, savory cabbage, avocado cream, chipotle. Oh, and Tostadas de Ceviche: tropical ceviche, chipotle cream, avocado. I'm not even going to go into more detail about the Tacos de Tinga de Pollo, Tacos de Machaca, or Taquitos de Camaron.
There was not a single plate that didn't sound delicious. Thank goodness there were three of us, me, the GM and the pastry chef...no food sissies in this bunch! We ordered the Tacos de Papa, Tacos al Pastor, Tacos de Pescado, Tostadas de Ceviche and the Tacos de Tinga de Pollo...and two more rounds of margaritas.
When restaurant industry people eat out together, it usually becomes obvious to the staff of whatever restaurant they are eating at. Our bartender was on to us...especially when a fourth guest showed up, a former chef. She coyly asked us where we worked with a knowing smile. Between our enthusiastic taco bites and margarita sips, gossip leaked out here and there...but, all in good fun.
It's hard to say what my favorite taco was. I don't have one because they were all impressive. The flavors were specific and not cluttered with too many excess ingredients. That is mexican food at it's best. A well flavored meat, with basic condiments that complement the meat. Even though Yxta is downtown, that is not going to stop me from making more journeys to this quite special, Hora Feliz.
Cheers and Happy Holidays!
601 S Central Ave
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