Pig Head Tamale
Estilo, you really live up to your name. Pig head tamales? Smoked beef cheeks? Roasted goat with chili purée and cilantro vinaigrette? That’s some serious style, indeed. Adventurous meats, pickled additions, bright sauces and nary a shrimp and grit to be found; hallelujah! I love when new food territory is forged — something that Estilo’s new partner, Magpie chef and co-owner Owen Lane, does very well. His revamped menu has definitely claimed some wild turf of its own.
Pig head and beef cheek were scarfed immediately in their flavorful layers of butternut squash mole and pickle-studded salsa verde, respectively. Both were highlights, as was the ceviche. I wondered whether there was a place for black bean purée in a ceviche dish, and the answer is a resounding yes; the velvety, delicately salted legumes multiplied the punch of the lime juice without overpowering the achiote-cured tuna. We paid no attention to the slaw that accompanied it because its briny, earthy subtlety needed no complement.
The imperfections were slight: a texture issue here (the “Slim Jims” and queso brulée); a seasoning tweak there (the spiced tomato broth surrounding three nicely seared and deliciously creamy scallops); and Estilo’s wine offerings could be a bit more extensive, considering the breadth of flavor on the menu. That being said, they made their own “Slim Jims.” You have to respect a kitchen with the cojones to do that.
Prices are on the higher side, but it’s worth it. Estilo’s food feels personal, like your meal is a conversation with the chef — and what a lively, spicy conversation it is.
7021 Three Chopt Road
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 4:30 to 10 p.m.
Prices: $4 to $24