Verde Taqueria Restaurant Review – Brookhaven, Atlanta, GA [First Impressions]

So last Tuesday (yes – el Cinco De Mayo), a friend whose culinary prowess dwarfs my own, decided to join me for lunch.  She was in the mood for some margaritas; and, Verde Taqueria, the newly opened Brookhaven taqueria, got the call.

verde taqueria - the entrance wayWhile the delay in getting this up could be attributed to a busy week, that’s not really the case.  From what I have been told, this is the first foray into the restaurant biz for the owners.  Given the fact that these guys are getting their feet wet in every respect, I wanted to make sure I put things in the appropriate perspective.

While all new restaurants deserve some leeway, one such as this (rookie owners, low price point, casual atmosphere) gets a bit more of a pass.  Meanwhile, franchises, chef driven restaurants, and pocket pinching establishments(think BLT Steak or Dogwood) need to be relatively well run right off the bat.

Though I fear this may sound particularly harsh, the meal was pretty unimpressive and left me apprehensive.

verde taqueria - the bar verde taqueria - the tables verde taqueria - the booths

Nestled in the relatively new development over on Dresden, the inside seems like a mishmash of decorative styles.  It neither offended me nor awed me.  I’m glad they didn’t go for some "imitation” cantina vibe.  Instead, they elected a more spacious, modern feel.  It’s not that I favor one type of decor over another; however, I can’t stand it when a bunch of gringos try and pass themselves off as something they aren’t: an authentic taqueria.

Though Verde’s branded colors are blue and green, nothing was overused.  That’s a big plus.  I was half expecting the place to be awash in verde.

Verde had a nice crowd on our visit.   A handful of tables and bar stools were filled inside while a number of tables on the patio were occupado.  Considering this was CDM, I was expecting a larger crowd.  A handful of servers bustled about somewhat haphazardly.  Most of them dawned cowboy hats.  While I appreciate the attempt to "do something different,” our poor server was clearly embarrassed by having to wear the cap.  For a place that seemed to do away with every other opportunity to be cheesy, the hats were queso al máximo (cheesy to the max).

Service was pretty spotty … things came out at odd times, items asked for were never delivered, and the servers seemed to have a hard time adopting their responsibilities.  In watching them throughout my meal and listening to nearby patrons, my guess is that the staff here is a little wet behind the ears.  When combined with nascent owners, it’s clear they need some time to work out the kinks.  Everyone had a smile on their face, and at times, that as important as anything else.

The service issues were quasi moderate.  Perhaps if I had been in a hurry or if I were in bad company, it would have bothered me more.  LDT and I became engrossed in a whirlwind of topics, we suddenly had an epiphany of sorts.  When at restaurant … order food.  To buy some time, we started with an order of the guacamole.

verde taqueria - guacamoleDescribed as house made guacamole, it showed up in a deep blue bowl.  Visually striking, I jumped in.  Uhhhh … hmmmmm … ahhhh … rhhhhhh.  One word describes the guac better than anything else: bland.  The dip lacked any discernable trace of the ingredients one comes to expect from guacamole, especially given that it is house made.  No lemon juice, little cilantro, and not much of anything else.  To boot, it was clear Verde used some avocados that were not ripe.  The straw that broke the camels back was the price tag.  At $6.25, this stuff cost more than a  margarita ($5.50). Drop the price, fix the mixture, get better avocados.  Problem solved.

Eventually, we pulled together and threw out an order.  As we ordered a half dozen tacos, I think I will simply provide a line itemized review.  In no particular order, service up:

verde taqueria - buffalo fried chicken tacoBuffalo Chicken:
Topped with sliced celery and served with a side of blue cheese, this had everything it needed to be a successful Tex-Mex taco.  It was fairly non-descript.  The sauce had a slight kick to it, though I might not be the best judge.  If something isn’t flaming hot, my tongue won’t even flinch.

The chicken was a bit dry and the batter was fairly unimpressive.  The celery did provide a nice crunch.

verde taqueria - pulled pork tacoPulled Pork Taco:
This one was pretty bad.  The coleslaw was way to prominent and not particularly good.  It was mayonnaise based, and while fresh, it did nothing to help the pork.

The pork itself was pretty sloppy.  Like the chicken before it, it drifted towards the dry side of things.  As the mush hit my tongue, it reminded me more of a Sloppy Joe than a pulled pork taco.  If not for the tortilla, which wasn’t particularly impressive, I verde taqueria - pulled pork tacowouldn’t have known the difference.  Seeing as Sloppy Joe’s are made from beef, that should tell you something.

Grilled Vegetable Taco:
Easily the worst taco of the night.  This thing was sloppy, poorly prepared, and just didn’t work.  As LDT said: “How hard is it to grill vegetables?”  The squirt bottle job with the cilantro sour cream really didn’t help the appeal.  The beans were mushy and tasted like they had been sitting in the heating vat for too long.  They had become overcooked.

verde taqueria - grilled vegetable tacoAs I took a bite, the tortilla gave way as the beans made it too wet to hold anything.  Everything oozed out of my mouth and onto my hands.  Just too messy and sloppy to work.

Short Rib Taco:
This one had eerie similarities to the pulled pork taco.  First, the portion control was way out of whack.  The Pico de Gallo absolutely blanketed the meet.  I spooned a heap of it off and tasted it individually.  Like the guacamole, it just didn’t have any of the flavors one is used to.

Moving forward with a bite, I was again taken back.  I found this taco to be the most comforting of the several I tasted; yet, it was strongly reminiscent of my childhood.  It made me think of one of those lunch lady Joe’s I had while I attended middle school.  Seeing as this was beef and not pork, I wasn’t as bothered in this case.  So while the flashback was somewhat pleasant, it ultimately did little to mask the mediocrity of the meat.

verde taqueria - short rib taco verde taqueria - grilled veggie taco verde taqueria - fried calamari taco

Fried Calamari Taco:
Maybe subconsciously I wanted to save the best for last.  This was easily our collective winner from the taco tasting.  Unlike every other taco we tasted, the portion control was on full display.  The calamari was joined by fried jalapeños and coleslaw.  The cornmeal batter worked well with the jalapeño ranch.

Still, this dish was not without its shortcomings.  The batter itself didn’t really “do it” for either LDT or myself.  While that’s not much of a “foodie” worthy term, it is what it is.  It lacked the punch of a thick batter (one most familiar to those in the south who dine on fried chicken) or the lightness of a tempura (think Houston’s chicken fingers).

It’s pretty obvious that the calamari was brought in frozen, half defrosted, and then tossed into the fryer for the finishing touches.  It just didn’t hit a home run.  Still, worth ordering again.

verde taqueria - fried calamari taco

To go along our tacos, we each ordered a standard margarita.  Surprisingly, these were made fresh.  Both were fairly strong and certainly worth the $5.50 price tag.  The sour and the tequila really packed a nice punch.  As an aside, when we got our check … one was listed as $5 and the other as $6.  Our server explained he didn’t know what was up with that … but that he would be happy to fix it.  As that still totaled $11.00, we gave him a pass.

So the food was pretty much a disappointment, but the drink was good.  While no taqueria is really “expensive,” I think they need to drop their prices by about $.50 to $1.00 given the quality of the product.  That’s a pretty big chunk when you consider that most of the tacos hover around $3.25 and $3.50.

One meal inside of two weeks isn’t enough to throw down any gauntlet of truth.  The meal was a flop in most every aspect; but, it wasn’t “bad” (for bad … see The Shed).  Instead, it just was “not good.”  However, I do remember one of us tossing out the phrase “better than cafeteria food” during the meal.  That can’t be a good sign.  With a little bit of work, I can see this place falling in with The Original El Taco.  I feel that they are going after Taqueria Del Sol, and while TDS isn’t the culinary bastion for me that it is for others, I think Verde needs to walk before they run.  As it goes, it won’t be worth a drive … but they do have a chance to make this a solid spot for nearby residents.

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Verde Taqueria y Cantina Restaurant Address & Information

1426 Dresden Dr, Atlanta, GA 30319 // P: 404.254.5319 // Verde Taqueria Website // Verde Taqueria Menu
Verde Taqueria and Cantina on Urbanspoon

28 comments Write a comment

  1. My wife and I tried Verde Taqueria last Friday night. We were completely unimpressed. Not only was the food sub par, but they were completely uneducated with very common allergy and food intolerances (i.e. Gluten) and they could care less. The only option for someone with a gluten intolerance was a measely sub par salad. It’s a real shame because this place is so close to us we were hoping to make it our neighborhood taco joint, but we’ll be driving down to Taqueria Del Sol from now on.

    • Sounds like we had a similar experience with the food. Bummer! RE: the gluten thing … that’s unfortunate that they were not more aware. I would however, veer toward the side of leniency with such matters. Perhaps send them an email and try and get them some information so that they can take that into consideration as they continue down the road.

      Thanks much for reading!

  2. I have to agree with your experience. As neighborhood folk, we are terribly excited about a new place. But likely this will not be on the rotation…will still be driving to other parts of town when we want a good taco. Food was mediocre and a bit over priced. We also couldn’t get past the stale chips…they brought 2 baskets and both times they were just, well, not crunchy at all.

    • Yikes on the stale chips. It seems they are off to a rough start … hopefully, some things will come together for them. I’ll check back there in a few months … in the meantime, thanks for the feedback and let’s see how things develop.

  3. I finally checked this place out. I kinda liked it. I doubt you’ll post this to your blog, but I ordered the short rib and my taco looked nothing like your photo. I think you modified the plate with a huge hunk of sour right after you cut the tortilla in half. Buy another for your photos or take one before you fool with it. I’ll be back for the short rib, the grilled veggie, and the buffalo chicken. Thanks for the marg advice. It was obviously not from a mix. FYI: They’re evidently $6 now.

    • Hey Ben,
      Provided that you don’t pick on other readers, you say it … i’ll post it. The sour cream was added in mass …by me … it was the only thing I could rely on throughout the meal. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the tacos … but to each his own. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Cheers

  4. I work in the Brookhaven/Chamhaven and checked this place out for lunch. We don’t have too many decent lunch places in this area and most require a bit of a drive (even buford hwy). I had the short rib and pork tacos. I really enjoyed the short rib taco but the pork taco was blah (I prefer El Taco’s Pork Belly tacos which I know that you don’t care for). However, my colleague like the BBQ sauce they used. Also, We both thought the chips and salsa were pretty good . We will be adding Verde to our limited lunch rotation.

  5. This place is awful. When you over-sauce pork it is usually a sign you don’t stand behind your meat. The short rib taco was terrible. Fish was marginal. As you mentioned in your review the prices are too high. I hope they make changes. A second look might happen but it will take some time.

  6. You were really rather harsh on Verde. We were in from Princeton, NJ and after reading your terrible revue of this restaurant, we knew we would try it for lunch!!! (Mainly, because the price sounded too good to be true.) We had so much fun. We loved the grilled taco veggie, the pulled pork (a favorite ) and the chicken taco rocked!!! Since none of us had a gluten problem, a peanut allergy or an alcohol problem, (yet) – we enjoyed the food, the price (come to New Jersey and compare!!!!) and the wonderful patio, along with a very patient waitress with a winning Southern kindness. The only part of your review that we totally agreed with was the margaritas. We (8 of us) are all pretty upbeat people and maybe we aren’t “foodies” but we (male and female) thought the place filled all of our needs. Number one with the women was spotless bathrooms and with the men good beer. The place had a bar to sit at, a dining area, two patios and I think the price when we left Verde added to our positive feeling. We hadn’t spent a fortune. We sat in wonderful sunshine. We enjoyed the nice friendly people and could have spent more at McDonald”s.
    And on top of all that, we loved the gringo version of the taco! Just think, for a great day we had spent less than $20.00 each and that included a tip for that nice waitress.

    • So you came to my site, saw that I wasn’t fond of the place, and then decided that was where you would go? Not sure how that works.

      Nonetheless, there are a number of taquerias in town that are less expensive and use better quality ingredients. Still, to each his own … so I can’t imagine it’s a bad thing that you enjoyed it. Just don’t expect me to feel the same. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Cheers.

  7. Whatever, with the price point where it is at, this place is pretty good. Tacos are all enjoyable and it is a fund atmosphere. Brookhaven has been waiting for a fun little neighborhood joint like this for a long time. You people are called Foodie’s for a reason. People expect your comments to be overly critical.

    • Everyone has their own opinion and that’s what makes this interesting. But I’m a bit confused by a few of your statements. Why do you say that Brookhaven has been waiting for a little neighborhood joint when there are a ton of them a stone’s throw away? There are plenty of chilled out places in Brookhaven.

      Why doesn’t price point matter to you? Taqueria Del Sol (which I think is good … but not great) charges $2.19 for their tacos. That’s a huge difference.

      Had no real quarrels with the atmosphere, though that is often a consequence of who you are dining with.

      I try not to be overly anything … other than honest. Forget the descriptors, the analysis of cooking method, or anything of the sort. When I sit down to eat, one question comes to mind: was it good? The answer here is a resounding no (for now).

  8. Pingback: Verde Taqueria Restaurant Review Brookhaven Atlanta GA First | patio set

  9. I have to agree with Ben on this one. Your photos looked NOTHING like the tacos that we received. Glad you finally admitted to slopping on those mounds of sour cream yourself after letting your readers think that’s how they came. I had a wonderful experience at Verde. The tacos were very good with unique flavors that complimented each other. Excellent calamari and the short rib taco was amazing. Judging by the crowds they are still drawing almost every night, I would say most people would agree with me. As you said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and while I respect yours, I think you are way off base on this one.

    • There are only two tacos pictured with sour cream. The implication that I somehow misled people seems a bit of a stretch, but it is what it is. Glad you enjoy the food there – most the people I know don’t.

  10. We live within a mile of Verde and hoped it would be worth the wait. I mean tacos and margaritas within walking distance. What’s not to like about that?! We’ve been three times, trying to justify why each past experience was just dreadful and completely unimpressive. I’ll quote Terry the tiger from a Family Guy episode to sum up the food at Verde, “They’rrrrrrrrrrrrrreeee food!”.

    That’s about it. The wait staff still has not gotten any better and can not get it right. They’re constantly bumping into each other and have these blank looks on their face all the time. They’re not horrible, but they just aren’t competent. Though I personally, from watching the owner of the place, would probably say they are over managed with a heavy hand. None of the waiters seem to have fun there. I’ve never seen a restaurant until Verde where none of the staff seem to enjoy their job. Just an observation.

    FB pretty much nailed it though. The food will keep you from dying of starvation, but the margaritas are pretty darn good. But is lack of death a reason to check this place out? Nah. I still have no idea why people flock to this place. We’ll take the fifty bucks we blew there last time and walk over to Haven and have a real meal for a few bucks more.

  11. Thanks for your post. My husband and I went on opening night at around 7:40 and were told rather abruptly that they had run out of food. They welcomed us to come in and drink but said they had no food to serve – no “we’re so sorry; please come back tomorrow” or anything.

    As a result, we decided to go to Taqueria del Sol instead and spend less money on presumably better food. We also vowed not to go back to Verde again – especially since I wrote them an email on my experience and never got a response.

    Taqueria del Sol is already pretty good and cheap – if you want to compete, work on your service, where theirs is lacking.

    • I have yet to return since I wrote this post and I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. Only time will tell what happens with Verde; however, this isn’t the best start ever.

  12. Would have really enjoyed it if they would have honored their coupon that they distributed. A man comes in one fine day while while work and gives me and my staff couons for Verde (buy 1 taco get 1 free). So, we go there for lunch and they won’t honor their coupon and say it’s dine-in only… but nowhere on the green coupon does it say “dine-in oly.” The place hasn’t been open a year and they turn people away with coupons they handed out…. this doesn’t sound like a great business plan to me?? On a positive note: the tacos were really good but don’t know if we will go back there again.

    • Well, I can see your frustration with the coupon issue. Hopefully they don’t do that any more (turn people away – the coupons are a great idea). Thanks for reading and keeping people updated.

  13. Our family thinks Verde is awesome. They started a little slow but I think if you try it again you will see it is rock solid considering the price. Your comment “most people I know don’t (like it)” makes me scratch my head a little because every time we go there is a big wait. I am glad we have it in our neighborhood for sure. The owners are nice, good drink and great prices. Grilled chicken and fried chicken taco are my favorite.

  14. Sorry, but you completely missed the boat on this one. Verde is delightful! Hip, casual, fun with great patios. The salads are yummy. The calamari is great & I LOVE the short rib tacos. Oh…and the margaritas are great too. That’s ok though, those of us who live in Brookhaven don’t want to have to wait to get a table:-)

  15. I am not sure if you would give Verde another chance, but my roommate and I have dinner there at least once a week and love that it is our little local spot! : )

    I love the atmosphere, the $6 house margarita gets the job done and the food comes to the table in record time. If you are reading this review and have never been to Verde give it a try. I am sure that the atmosphere isn’t for everyone, but the crowd is late 20’s-early 30’s, is full of smiling faces and I actually see many of the same faces in there weekly, so they must have gotten something right.

    Cheers and happy hunting for that perfect local spot of your own! : )

    ~Hayley

    • Hi Hayley,
      I always visit restaurants multiple times, I just haven’t had a chance to get back to Verde yet. Thanks for the note and glad you found a hangout that suits you!

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