When NixTaco opened in June, Sacramento chefs started making regular trips to Roseville.
They rave about NixTaco’s flavors—just like Mexico—and tortillas—freshly made throughout the day, every day, with corn ground in-house. Some call it the best Mexican food in the region and maybe all of Northern California.
NixTaco chef-owner Patricio Wise used to host fine dining, supper club-style meals in his native Monterrey, Mexico, before relocating to Roseville, where he manages to fit a full-time job around running a restaurant. He also made an impressive friend and adviser in the form of Hawks chef-owner Mike Fagnoni.
Shortly after NixTaco opened, the restaurant got a big spread in The Sacramento Bee. “It’s definitely a different style than any taqueria in California,” Fagnoni said in the story. NixTaco’s website provides the echo: “LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EXPERIENCED.”
Expectations were raised, which is almost always unfortunate. These bold proclamations only tinged my experiences with disappointment, as I drew comparisons to places like Guisados in Los Angeles and Tacolicious in San Francisco and various taco stands in Mexico. I won’t dwell on them, though, because what NixTaco delivers is still undoubtedly fresh for Sacramento.
The best way to start a first visit to NixTaco is with the taco sampler: six mini versions of tacos that usually cost $3.50 each for $9 total. The standouts are the chicharrón, which is actually pork belly with pickled onions, and rajas con queso, which mixes smoky poblano peppers and corn with Oaxacan cheese and crema. The latter is the only vegetarian taco—luckily, it’s fantastic, especially on a corn tortilla that tastes so strikingly of corn.
Despite the promise of a 50-ingredient mole and orange-guajillo adobo, the other four tacos fell flat. That said, limes and salt are available at the salsa bar.
The $4.50 specialty tacos pack more flavor. One featured plump shrimp sauteed in pork belly fat, a beer-cheese sauce and bacon, all on a thin layer of refried beans. Smoked chile oil and peanut-chipotle aioli adds a subtle sophistication.
However, it’s the al pastor taco that will knock you down and leave you utterly helpless until someone buys you another. It’s sweet, smoky and assertive, with pork shoulder, roasted pineapple, salsa verde, onion and cilantro.
You can get al pastor, pork belly or carne asada in a quesadilla ($8) as well. The emphasis here seems to be more on the meat than the cheese. The carne asada proved particularly hefty, with cubes of tender, charred beef; grilled onions; and bits of crispy, fried cheese tucked inside.
You can also get the less expensive taco fillings in a burrito ($10), though it’s much skinnier than the bricks you find at other taquerias. NixTaco’s burritos are more like delicate wraps, with thin layers of refried beans and cheese. This is the rare burrito that probably won’t fill you up.
You could throw in a beer—the selection is impressive for any restaurant. Or consider an appetizer for the table? What other taco shop serves burrata ($12) or bone marrow ($12)?
NixTaco also recently added a couple of snacks meant for a single eater, including sopes ($5). The fried masa cake, topped with refried beans, peppers, pickled onions, avocado and salsa, offers up the satisfaction of NixTaco’s strongest tacos in another format.
The most lackluster starter is the aguachile ($12), raw shrimp dressed in lime, elegantly plated and very sweet. I craved some zing, some spice for balance—a desire that built up over multiple visits. NixTaco’s creations are lovely and unique for Sacramento—and its tortillas are unmatched—but the flavors can feel slightly muted, like they’re tailored for a cliché version of the suburbs.