Mexican Flair in Montauk: Dan’s Corona MonTaco 2019 Recap

PTL Chef Fabián Gallardo accepting the People’s Choice Award
PTL Chef Fabián Gallardo accepting the People’s Choice Award, Photo: Barbara Lassen

A sell-out crowd raised many a glass and plenty of festive fare August 3 at the East End’s ultimate summer fiesta, the third annual Dan’s Corona MonTaco at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina. As the sun went down over the boats and water mere feet away, the fun kept rising inside the tent with world-class food from top local chefs, limitless libations, get-up-on-your-feet-and-dance-the-night-away music and more, making for another unforgettable night.

The host restaurant, Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island, showcased its culinary creativity and dedication to local sourcing with a beautiful-to-behold and even-better-to-eat Crescent Farm Duck Taquito—confit duck, house-funked kimchi and salsa soja in a blue tortilla.

Sparkling or flat? What water pairs better with so many Mexican-inpired tastes? Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino made sure that decision was an easy one. Have both!

668 the Gig Shack's dish
668 the Gig Shack’s dish, Photo: Barbara Lassen

668 The Gig Shack, winners of the first-ever Dan’s Corona MonTaco People’s Choice Award in 2017, drew nonstop “wows” with their Local Tilefish Brandade Empanadas with Balsam Farms corn salsa and avocado aioli.

Swell Taco served up a swell El Camino Mahi Taco—fried mahi served on a soft corn tortilla and topped with pickled red cabbage and a roasted jalapeño sauce.

The two Ts in TT’s Montauk stand for tequila and tacos, but they also translated into totally terrific with their Dockside Raw Tuna Taco, a light and luscious serving of seasoned yellowfin tuna served on a tortilla with salsa verde.

Three’s a charm, they say, and El Morelense proved the old adage with their trio of authentic Mexican tacos starring steak, chicken and pastor/pork.

ToniAnn Saluato and MC Dougherty from South Edison
ToniAnn Saluato and M.C. Dougherty from South Edison, Photo: Hailey Burling

All those glowing fire-pits around the resort property had people talking about s’mores, and South Edison delivered with their tasty take on the classic summer night dessert, a less ooey-gooey but no-less-decadent concoction of chocolate beet cake, graham cracker speculoos, marshmallow and salted caramel ganache. We’ll have s’more, please.

The Clubhouse called upon MonTaco’s waterfront locale to inspire its Jumbo Lump Crab Taco—local sweet corn, plum tomatoes, avocado, red onions, micro greens and a citrus aioli in a crispy wonton shell.

Lynn’s Hula Hut has long been known for its Tiki bar cocktails, but this night they were known for a just-right-spiced Fresh Catch Ceviche with shrimp and mango. Guests were happy to pass on the utensils and down the cupful like a drink, keeping with the Hula Hut vibe.

Smokin’ Wolf BBQ & More thought inside the bun in this taco-centric universe, plating their slow smoked BBQ pulled pork sliders with pickles and onions alongside a drizzle of that tangy Smokin’ Wolf BBQ sauce.

Pirates and sharks and some hilarious costume get-ups had everyone laughing and smiling while capturing the celebratory spirit of the event at the Intelli-Tec photo booth.

Union Cantina showed why they are the reigning champ in the Dan’s Best of the Best Taco category, as guests came back again and again for the roasted poblano pepper and sweet corn pico de gallo, caramelized onions and avocado crema co-mingling on warm flour tortillas in their Skirt Steak Taco.

Linda Johnson of Chocology Unlimited
Linda Johnson of Chocology Unlimited, Photo: Karen Weissner

White Chocolate Nachos. Yes, that’s a thing, thanks to Chocology Unlimited, which also served up Key Lime Fudge that, with a tangy little spritz, became a spoonful of margarita!

What’s your pleasure? Campari, Espolon, Aperol, Grand Marnier, Wild Turkey Longbranch, Bulldog Gin, Appleton Rum…They were served neat, on the rocks, as an Aperol Spritz, in mixed drinks, and inspired an evening of endless toasts to good times.

The foosball and cornhole competition was ghost-pepper hot in the California Closets Fun Zone. There might have been a few friendly wagers placed, but our favorite was seeing the loser of a game at the giant Connect Four having to get the winner glasses of Señor Sangria for the rest of the night.

The chillest spot under the tent had to be the umbrella-sheltered Adirondack chairs where guests sat sipping ice-cold Corona Premier and Corona Refresca while they toasted the golden hour and beyond.

It wouldn’t be an East End summer party without the unofficial libation of the season flowing (that’s rosé, for the uninitiated), and The Palm by Whispering Angel and Rosé All Day had everyone feeling in the pink.

An evening at the end of Long Island is always worth the trip, especially when it offers a quick virtual trip to islands in the lower latitudes—a journey that came courtesy of Caribbean Pearl Caterer’s sweetly heated Rum Mango BBQ Chicken, as well as the fried plantains topped with avocado, crab salad and lime Sriracha sour cream. Yes, that was a steel drum band playing inside your head.

Eric Feil with Lina Grammont and Tom Odom of Caribbean Pearl Caterer
Eric Feil with Lina Grammont and Tom Odom of Caribbean Pearl Caterer, Photo: Karen Weissner

Speaking of music, In the Groove—the final act in the Dan’s Taste of Summer Entertainment Series Presented by Mohegan Sun—had the crowd getting its groove on all evening. At the end of their final set, the revelers were even calling for an encore! Of course, the band obliged.

Nobody wanted to leave the fun behind, but those beautiful BMWs in the tent and out in the open-air courtyard had everyone envious of who would be driving them home.

And the winner is…After all the votes were counted, a huge cheer went up when it was announced that PTL’s Pork Shoulder Carnitas Taco with Guacamole, Salsa de Ceniza with garlic, chiles and tortilla-ashes took home the coveted Dan’s Corona MonTaco People’s Choice Award for 2019! This is Chef Fabián Gallardo’s second MonTaco victory, after claiming the 2017 Judges’ Choice Award, which means he’s up for a three-peat next next year.

Until 2020, eat every day like it’s a Dan’s Taste of Summer day!

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