Alex Stupak recently made some significant changes at Empellon Al Pastor, his 15-month-old East Village bar and taqueria. The menu, which heretofore focused on al pastor style tacos, has been expanded, and the bar and taqueria areas have been physically divided. "We have two guest profiles," Stupak tells Eater. "You have the grab and go, food only types and then you have people looking for a proper bar." The issue, as the chef saw it, was that while the kitchen was brightly illuminated. Stupak notes: "That light shining into a bar is psychologically problematic....I want people to drink. To descend into civil depravity. I want them to tag the space, make out, abuse it!" The bright light tended to thwart this, so a physical wall has been erected, dividing the spaces. This will allow the two entities to operate independently and going forward the taqueria will continue to open at noon, while the bar will now open at 4 p.m.
The menu has also been expanded and now includes several items that one would have thought to be anathema to the original vision of the bar — namely nachos and chicken wings. But for Stupak, the decision was logical: "If I look at Al Pastor as my opportunity to create the ultimate bar, well then that bar has nachos and chicken wings." The namesake taco remains, of course (according to Stupak it is the biggest seller) but the meat options have been beefed up — there are now short rib and cheeseburger tacos available. The chef notes: "I used to get upset with myself that I like nachos but I've made peace with it. I'm not trying to pass them off as Mexican."
Take a look at the menu below and if you stop by do let us know what you think.
Is the taco the future of American comfort food?