(Written primarily by Michael Valente)
This week we visited one of three Pure Taqueria locations in Inman Park—one of Atlanta’s most fiercely dedicated communities and home to a myriad of small shops, restaurants and, of course, the glorious hipsters.
The first note we made as we walked up to Pure Taqueria in the cold, drizzly rain was that this place was made for warm summer evenings.
Walking in, it was apparent that the building may have been a converted auto shop. All the tables were packed with boisterous guests, and the bar was stocked with warmer-still patrons.
After a thirty-minute wait (even on a weekday night, reservations are recommended) we were led through the throng and past a brilliantly tiled food service counter that shone even in the low light of the dining room. Chips, salsa and water were all almost instantaneously delivered to our table while it took our actual server a little bit to introduce herself and ask if we needed anything else.
Michael went for the corn masa stuffed with pulled pork, Andrew ordered a traditional dish, chicken mole enchiladas and our companion and photographer Cassie opted for the chicken taquitos.
The two large stuffed masa cakes laid imposingly over a majority of the plate and were piled high with toppings. The cakes were at first a bit hard to cut into, but the pork’s moisture and saltiness offset the dryness and touch of sweetness, respectively, from the corn.
Mole is a Mexican sauce that varies enough to be the signature of a particular cook, and at Pure it was particularly chocolatey and nutty. In fact, if Nutella were to find its way to a sauce pan with an entourage of chilies, you would have this mole. Toss in some softened peppers and onions and spread over three stuffed enchiladas, and it makes a hearty, earthy dish.
All dishes were accompanied by sides of rice and a choice of black, refried or charro beans. The rice was a strange side dish: while the taste was done well, the texture seemed almost waxy but curiously we ate every last grain.
Pure’s version of charro beans tasted excellent and came in a small side cup, much preferred over the usual splatter on the side of your plate as in many other restaurants. It also pays tribute to the original, using an unmistakable presence of pork among other spices and chilies commonly found in traditional charro bean recipes.
Other food options are the usual suspects for Mexican cuisine, although it certainly surpasses the typical Mexican dive in both atmosphere and style. Pure’s founders based their recipes on family recipes from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and the feature cheese here is, surprise, Oaxaca cheese. They also offer a gluten-free menu that isn’t too bad.
Perhaps the highlight of the restaurant was the shiny ethanol centerpiece. Stacked on all sides by liquor, especially their proud tequila selection, the bar seemed almost too retro despite the rest of the modern-retro mix of interior decoration. On the wall opposite the windows was a large tv projection screen showing a football game at the time.
Overall the experience of Pure was nice. Perhaps a little dimmer than necessary, but loud and fun. The food was good and plentiful and the price more than reasonable.