This was dinner at Howling Wolf Taqueria in Salem. Very popular spot. We’ve done takeout from them a couple of times and have eaten there a couple of times. Our daughter was leaving to go to her summer cmap job up in Maine the next day, and this was her request.
I like to keep tacos fairly simple, and these were just that – the meat, some pico de gallo, and a sprinkle of cheese. I wasn’t especially hungry, so I only got two tacos. One had shredded chicken (cooked in a sauce that is not described on the menu, but seemed like achiote-based) and shredded beef (deshebrada de res). I liked the beef better than the chicken, and another time would order two of them instead.
Their menu features a lot of other stuff. There are some fancier tacos, plus quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, and the like. They also have a bar (every restaurant in Salem is essentially a bar that also serves food) and make some tasty margaritas. My daughter, who just turned 21, was tickled to order her very first strawberry margarita.
The recipe for these tacos can be made with either short rib or flank steak, and we happened to have flank steak in the freezer. The meat is cooked in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, so it only takes a few minutes, then gets finished under a broiler. Along with the meat, there’s a cooking liquid that includes gochujang, honey. hoisin, soy, garlic, and a fe w other things I’m forgetting. Meanwhile, you also make a slaw with a rice vinegar dressing, salsa verde, and diced jalapenos. These are also topped with a little shredded cheese.
Everything was incredibly tasty, but I can see where short ribs would really shine in this recipe. The flank steak just doesn’t have as much richness from internal fat. Several different layers of flavor from the pepper sauce, the slaw, the meat, and the cheese made each bite interesting. Spicy, but not impossibly hot – the gochujang we have on hand is mild, but you could ratchet it up A LOT if you were so inclined. Black beans and corn maybe seem like they don’t really go with Korean tacos, but my wife doesn’t eat meat, so that what she put in her tacos, and they served as the requisite non-spicy side you need to have with spicy food. Looking forward to having these again soon.
My wife’s sister came to visit over the Labor Day weekend, and we went several places over the course of the weekend. These tacos were from Sea Level Oyster Bar in our town. Tacos at a seafood place might not be your first thought, but it was a mood. We’ve been to this restaurant a few times and have thoroughly enjoyed more typical seafood offerings, but there would be several other opportunities for seafood as the weekend went on.
Salem, where we live these days, attracts what I can only describe as a royal fuckton of tourists in October, but there are plenty of tourists all summer as well. We had to settle for sitting at an outdoor table rather than their lovely open-air second-floor, which is so nice on a pleasant summer day. It was a holiday weekend, so we were probably lucky to get a table at all.
Tacos are a perfect lunch food, anyway. And good tacos are a thing of joy. These had short-ribs cooked birria-style, with thick sices of jalapeño and cotija cheese. If I recall correctly, this was a special (since it doesn’t appear on their current online menu). Washed ’em down with a nice cold grolsch beer.