You wouldn’t immediately associate Suvir Saran with tacos. Afterall, the New Delhi-born-chef is behind upscale Indian restaurants, like the former Devi and the current Tapestry, is Chairman of Asian Culinary Studies for the Culinary Institute of America, and has penned a trio of cookbooks on Indian home cooking. You also wouldn’t expect him to turn his attention to Long Island City, considering the central Manhattan locations of both past and present eateries.
Yet the celebrated toque has branched out in more ways than one this month; unexpectedly migrating to an outer borough (Queens), and turning his attention to tortillas, at the playful, fast-casual Unico Taco. And if Tapestry’s tagline is “Global Threads on an Indian Loom,” Unico seems to have substituted in Mexican textiles instead; with patterns provided by a wealth of international flavors.
Adopting Chipotle’s popular quick-service blueprint, patrons first select their base at the “choose your own adventure” spot, including wraps, bowls, enchiladas and yes, tacos. And complying with Unico’s own motto — “Taste the World Without a Passport” — fillings are named for different cities: Select “Lima” for shrimp (piled with jicama-mango-cabbage slaw), “Incheon” for beef (Korean-style short ribs with kimchi and gochujang), or “Shimla” if you’re vegetarian, for a repast of potatoes, onions, peppers, kachumbar, raita and salsa verde.
To further draw attention to the concept, Saran has started serving tacos at Tapestry’s bar as well, supplementing the above array with stuffings like Rabbit Mole, and the “Mexico via Vatican” with adobo pork. Though to be honest, there are considerably more “unico” fast-casual subjects on the restaurant’s regular refined dinner menu; perhaps there’s a future franchise in globally-influenced Arancini (coconut cashew green curry) and kabocha black garlic Panisse.
31-31 Thomson Ave