UMO Tacos, Hops, Tonics
You know those restaurants that you try one time and then crave food from there every single day after? That's what happened when I tried UMO on a Monday—then returned that Friday to relive the experience.
The restaurant opened in Norfolk's Riverview Neighborhood on Granby Street last spring and have been serving tasty and obviously crave-able tacos since. We'll get to those in a moment, but first, we should discuss their guacamole. It's loaded with cilantro, topped with tomatoes and is smooth and chunky in all the right ways. Served with flash fried tortilla chips (that are easy to eat on their own), the guac is a great way to calm your ravenous appetite.
Once you run out of guacamole (and you will) you should squirt dabs of UMO's house-made sauces on individual chips to decide which ones you like the most because you're going to want to put that sauce on your tacos for sure. Their sauces vary, but two constants seem to be the red sauce—created with smoked Fresno peppers and green apples (my favorite by far and probably the real reason I can't stop thinking about this place) and the green sauce—super spicy from the jalapenos. When I visited, they also featured a Pineapple Soy Hot Sauce that gave a nice tangy kick.
Now the tacos: you can order them one or three at a time (a single runs $3.50–$4, and triple tacos go for $9–$10.50). Look for unique and flavorful combinations like chimichurri shrimp, pickled red onions, salsa verde and citrus cabbage; or shredded braised brisket with chimichurri, garlic tomatoes and manchego. If you're in doubt about which ones to order, just ask Jack (the server I've had each visit). He gets really pumped about the restaurant's offerings and he knows his stuff.
I stuck with the veggie options, ordering one taco with roasted crimini mushrooms, black beans, cilantro salsa, cotija and rojo sauce and one with crispy fried cumin-scented tofu, citrus cabbage, garlic tomatoes and house-made hot sauce. The roasted crimini mushroom and black bean taco was savory and filling, while the tofu taco was on the lighter side, a perfect combination in my book.
Pair these tacos with the hops and tonics mentioned in the restaurant's name. They've got an exciting cocktail selection; try the El Dubya with Mezcal, honey lime cilantro simple syrup and soda. Or go for their fine selection of bottled or draft beers, featuring several local and regional offers that change with the seasons. Wines are available by the glass or bottle, and if they have sangria, don't even hesitate to order it.
UMO has a children's (or ninos') menu too, and our little lady devoured her cheese quesadilla without haste before demanding several samplings of our meals. Lesson learned: Always order three tacos instead of two.