The best part about the Top 100 project? Simple: stuffing myself silly. Yet it’sÂ not Â as easy it sounds. With the exception of a few casualÂ establishments my dining experiences to date have been notable for aÂ measured degree of formality. (Perhaps that’s the true price of a $300 dinner for two.) At times you’d almost be excused for thinking the only way to get an exceptional meal in this city was to sufferÂ throughÂ a multi-course tasting menu in aÂ suitÂ and tie. Not so at EmpellÃ³n, thankfully – or EmpellÃ³n Taqueira as it’s now called. Chef Alex Stupak’s wise andÂ wonderful interpretation of la cocina Mexicana may be civilized down to its crunchy chilaquiles but that shouldn’t stop you from rolling up your sleeves and getting down ‘n’ dirty. Begin with a bowl of guacamole, which is studded with cashews and comesÂ accompanied by two salsas, tangy red arbol for purists and a smoky cashew that seems tailor-made for hedonists. (Put me in the latter camp; I appreciate the red sauce, but I’d happily eat an old shoe if it was dressed with smoky cashew.) If you’re one of those folks who cringe upon hearing people wax poetic overÂ chicharrones,Â chef StupakÂ will open your eyes to the beauty that is deep fried pork skin. Served warm with a roasted tomato and caper salsa, there is something deeply satisfying to the crackling sound which rises from the plate, like an overactive bowl of Rice Krispies. The texture is light and crunchy, yet alive with salty, porky good flavor. I challenge you to eat just one. (Unless of course, you’re like one of my dining companions and you’re in town from Rochester – in which case, you’re now wishing you could find a nice quiet Taco Bell and scarf down a gordita or two.) Eyes bigger than my stomach, a trio of appetizers arrive in quick succession: tuna withÂ pickledÂ potatoes and chorizo mayo, which should henceforthÂ be packaged as a summer staple for city picnics, silky rounds of octopus with parsnip and salsa papanteca, a savory mix of pumpkin seeds and chipotle which on first glance looks overpowering but instead brings each flavor together quite marvelously, and aÂ salad of sweetÂ roasted beets with sikil pak, a creamy Mayan pumpkin seed dip that could easily be the newÂ hummus, topped with a scatter of bitter sorrel leaves. In case you’re wondering, everything goes incredibly well with a neat pour of mezcal, too – notably the smoky Fidencio Madrecuixe. I’m physically unable to resist fish tacos whenever I see them on a menu, so forgive me, I didn’t get to sampling either the beer braised tongue or lamb barbacoa tacos – both of which sounded intriguing. But no worries because the tempura battered fish is that perfectly simple yet elusive combination of creamy flesh and crispy shell. Spiked with a dab of lime mayonnaise and the clean crunch of radish and cabbage, I can convincingly predict that I will order these fish tacos every time I visit – with a side of crispy yucca, please, my new favorite form of starch. As I wipe a dollop of smoky cashew off my shirt -Â excellentÂ as a dipping sauce for the yucca – it occurs to me that therein lies the problem atÂ EmpellÃ³n: my utter lack of self-control. Every morsel of this meal has been not just good, but great – Â in a full-but-can’t-stop-eating,Â bowl-licking, chip-scraping, my-palate-is-alive kind of way. I’m at capacityÂ andÂ yet I’m trying to convince my companions that we must have the churros rolled in cinnamon sugar with masa-enriched hot chocolate. Dining at EmpellÃ³nÂ could be a prim and proper experience if you choose to make it that way, but take it from one who’s stuffed and stained and still wants more: it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.