“We don’t really do traditional tacos,” Duvaldi Marneweck, the creator and owner of Goa Taco says with the knowing smile of a mad scientist who has stumbled upon the next genius invention.
The main difference between Marneweck’s creations and the standard taco is the shell itself, which is composed of paratha, a doughy, layered flatbread from the Indian subcontinent described on Goa Taco’s website as “the buttery, flaky lovechild of the tortilla and the croissant.”
Filled with global flavors from Mexico to the Mediterranean, the tacos reflect Marneweck’s background growing up in South Africa and over a decade spent working as a fine-dining chef in Australia and London before opening Goa Taco in New York City in 2014.
“We have different flavors from all over the world,” Marneweck said.
Standout options include one of Marneweck’s favorites, the recado rojo lamb shoulder, which melts in your mouth and is perfectly accented by a succulent eggplant salsa and a bright hit of fresh tzatziki.
As the menu warns, one Goa taco is the size of two regular tacos and is generously and artfully packed with exciting ingredients.
“Making up every taco is like plating a dish,” Marneweck explains. His fine-dining background clearly shines through in the attention to detail and thoughtful ingredients.
The most popular item is the pork belly taco, bursting with slow-roasted pork belly, pickled cabbage, and chipotle mayo. All items I tried were delicious in their own exotic ways, but I was most enamored of the version with paneer cheese, spinach pesto, fried chickpeas, and pickled tomatillo. Perfectly balanced in flavor and texture, this one will definitely have me coming back when I’m craving Indian flavors at a taco price.
Goa Taco also offers tasty snacks, such as the comforting Mexican corn with hominy and queso fresco, corn chips (fried in house from local La Tolteca tortillas) with fresh guacamole, and a cheesy quesadilla with sweet-potato salsa and delicious raclette from C’est Cheese.
“We use the highest quality products,” Marneweck said. “You can’t put out a high-quality product when you start with something subpar.”
The drink list is something special, as well, with a nod to local favorites such as Topa Topa’s Chief Peak IPA and Municipal Winemakers’ grenache blend, as well as global gems from Marneweck’s travels, such as a delightfully jammy First Drop Mother’s Milk Shiraz from Australia and red and white blends from South Africa.
For those craving the traditional tequila and tacos pairing, Goa features a refreshing agave wine margarita and a spiced-up habanero margarita. Warning: If you partake in the delicious habanero version, consider going easy on their killer scotch bonnet hot sauce unless you have a glass of milk at the ready.
Better yet, order Goa’s ice cream nachos to cool off, complete with an inventive strawberry and mango “pico de gallo.”
Marneweck is hoping that his light and bright space will grow its customer base with plans for happy hour and late-night bites in the works.
“Once we have a bit of a following, we’d like to be open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays,” he said.
The name Goa Taco is imbued with a multicultural perspective, paying its respects to India, the birthplace of paratha and also to the common lingo used while Marneweck was living in Australia. “Goa” was slang for “going for something.”
If you’re looking for a new taco taste treat, but maybe you’re a bit apprehensive, I say “Goa” for it!
Goa Taco is at 718 State Street. Call (805) 770-7079.