Magic Mushrooms

Playful vegetarian dishes at Huahua's Taqueria

"You can't really take yourself too seriously when your logo is a cartoon Chihuahua," says Todd Erickson, chef of South Beach's Huahua's Taqueria.

That admirable approach is on display in Erickson's playful way with vegetables at his new counter-service spot, which serves punchy takes on Mexican and Tex-Mex.

There's the charmingly trashy Queso Mac ($4), a nod to Erickson's Texas roots. Chile powder and subdued queso blanco cling to cavatappi twists, all topped with crushed, spicy fried tortillas for a comforting, indulgent dish.

The genius Hongos Magicos, or magic mushrooms, taco ($3) layers zesty chile-and-cumin-spiced tofu crema on top of juicy, singed portobello mushrooms and sweet caramelized onions.

Other smart vegetarian dishes we ate: Elote, or grilled corn on a stick ($3) dusted with cilantro and cotija cheese, and the "Guaco" Taco ordered as a salad ($10), its shell housing a jumble of velvety fried avocado, iceberg lettuce, kale and cabbage–all dressed with cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

Only one dish we tried didn't work. Cheese-and-bean enchiladas ($7) underwhelmed; a surfeit of dairy resulted in a mushy, unbalanced mass.

Huahua's fills a much-needed niche in South Beach for both engaging service and inexpensive, enticing food. On Lincoln Road, this combination is almost magical.