tac quila palm springs

Dressed for the Part

There are plenty of Mexican restaurants in the desert, but the stylish and simple Tac/Quila is in a class of its own.

Kay Kudukis Current Digital, Restaurants

tac quila palm springs
Carne en su Jugo soup is made with beef, pinto beans, bacon, guerito pepper and a verde broth.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL BERGER

Just south of Alejo Road on Palm Canyon Drive is a crisp, white, Spanish-style bungalow with a clay tile roof and a fat white chimney sporting a whimsical red sign and a playful name: Tac/Quila.

Even those of us not on Mensa’s birthday card list understand the reference. It’s a mashup of tacos and tequila, and who doesn’t enjoy a witty portmanteau — or tacos and tequila for that matter? But there are plenty of places across the Coachella Valley that serve the popular combo. What makes Tac/Quila different?

First impressions are everything when introducing a new dining experience, especially to discerning Palm Springs foodies. The dog-friendly portico greeting guests is bright, breezy, and softly lit at night by hanging gas lanterns, while white marble tables with comfy chairs juxtapose the lush greenery and exotic flowers bursting forth from the living wall. The sense of peace might tell visitors to have a seat there, but there’s a vibrant and cozy interior, too.

Splashy red banquette booths facing green-cushioned chairs are the star. The supporting players are equally as enchanting: lanterns hanging at different heights like a festival of exotic balloons, thoughtfully placed artwork, funky mirrors, and rich textiles.

Liz Ostoich, who formerly made her living as an attorney, co-owns Tac/Quila with her still-practicing attorney husband Mark. This isn’t their first go-round. They cut their teeth on Farm, the charming spot in Palm Springs’ La Plaza that the couple bought from the original owners in 2016.

tacquilainterior

The interiors at Tac/Quila will attract your attention as much as the food.

“Farm had a lot to do with my travels in France,” Ostoich explains. “Almost everything on the menu is authentic French country food, so sweet and savory crepes, omelets, salads, and sandwiches. Our savory crepes are from Brittany (France), you won’t find them anywhere else in the desert. They’re made largely of buckwheat, so they’ll have a slight purple cast to them.”

As much as French farm-to-table cuisine influenced Farm, Ostoich’s travels through Jalisco, Mexico, were the inspiration for Tac/Quila. She celebrates the aesthetics of 1950s Mexico City, drawing on her love of the architecture, art, and what she refers to as her “jam food.”

“This is what I’d choose to eat every day,” she says. “It’s my favorite style of food. But I don’t like the heavy sauces, refried beans, rice, everything covered in cheese, so I was looking to create something that was more Jalisco style — seafood forward, clean eating but authentic. And, of course, tequila.”

Tamale
Rojas Enchiladas with potatoes, grilled onion, queso fresco, guajillo salsa, and avocado cream.

Tac/Quila serves over 45 different tequilas and16 mezcals. The bartenders have also created an extensive list of fun and crafty cocktails (so many margaritas!) Ostoich’s favorite is the Tres Agaves, made with reposado tequila, serrano-infused blanco tequila, mezcal, lime juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, including Christine Willinsky, formerly of Spencer’s Restaurant, who has been Ostoich’s general manager for the past two years. She and Willinsky are simpatico about everything; they genuinely like and respect each other, which is in harmony with Ostoich’s philosophy of “good food, good ambiance, good people.”

Surprisingly, Ostoich doesn’t have executive chefs in place at either restaurant. Instead, she’s created a culinary think tank. “We’ve got several very talented sous chefs at both locations,” Ostoich says. “And I’m a good cook, so some are my recipes, and some are from others. It’s very collaborative. Anyone can be great here.”

tresagavedrink

Tres Agave features Reposado Tequila, Serrano-infused Blanco Tequila, mezcal, lime juice, Simple Syrup, and Angostura bitters.

tac/quila

Jalisco-style seafood forward dishes, full bar with over 45 tequila and 16 mezcal options. Warm, inviting, and beautifully designed interiors reminiscent of 1950s Mexico City and al fresco dining.

Location: 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Prices: $9 and up for appetizers, highest priced item is $45, serves six

Recommended Dishes: Avocado bites, nachos, carne asada, short rib or lobster tacos. Try one of their crafty margaritas

Parking: Street parking on Palm Canyon and Belardo, and a public lot right behind the Tac/Quila, Keller Williams, and Blue Coyote buildings, and one more behind the forthcoming Lighthouse cannabis location.

Website: tacquila.com

Flan

Flan – Mexican cheescake style.