Cacao Mexicatessen | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Cacao Mexicatessen

photo by Anne Fishbein

Cacao Mexicatessen is a mash-up of a variety of third spaces: coffee shop, deli, neighborhood restaurant, taco destination. The cafe de olla keeps many an Oxy student awake through finals, for instance, and Sunday Night Football can only be improved with the tortillas and guacamole in the deli case that you can pick up after you make your run to Trader Joe’s next door. As for its restaurant side, the kitchen makes all sorts of terrific Mexican fare: You’d be more than happy to unwind here after work on a weeknight with a bottle of Tijuana Guera, mole fries and an enchilada plate. And then there are the tacos, of which the carnitas de pato has become something of a legend on this side of town: shredded pieces of duck, simmered in its own fat, tucked into a warm, homemade tortilla. And the avocado taco, too, delicately fried in panko, is pretty great whether you’re a vegetarian or not. As unlikely a space as Cacao might be, it works. Very, very well. —Tien Nguyen