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Chef Kareem NeJame Of Saratoga’s Tatu Tacos Is Slayin’ The Game

'saratoga living' sits down with the local culinary star to talk tacos.

Tatu Tacos Owner Kareem NeJame. (Klea Armstrong)

I’d only been living in Saratoga Springs for a few months when Tatu Tacos & Tequila opened, but I finally felt at home after walking through the doors of the immaculately decorated downtown hotspot. Co-owners Jennyfur Spaulding (designer) and Kareem NeJame (chef) have whipped up quite a restaurant—from art-soaked decor to authentic Yucatecan cuisine (think Mexican steeped in Mayan culture, with more than a century of Middle Eastern influence thrown in). The fresh food is, simply, divine. I sat down with NeJame, whose passion for these alluring (and sometimes exotic) dishes will have you visiting Tatu in no time. Let’s dig in.

What’s your most popular dish?
Carnitas al pastor tacos—achiote and sour orange marinated, slow roasted pork. We love that people love it, though our favorite dish is the salbute con pavo. I could spend hours telling the story of this dish, but in short, we marinate fresh turkey thighs and breasts in a puree of blackened chilis, onions and garlic for 24-48 hours, before slowly stewing it with aromatics for 7 hours. That’s just the start. You’ve just never tasted anything like it.

Rumor has it there’s a souped-up new happy hour at Tatu…
We’ve added food to our happy hour that’s offered every night from 5-7pm at the bar, with an all-night happy hour on Wednesdays and 2-for-1 ladies’ night on Thursdays from 7pm to close. We also just recently opened The Parlor, which is our tasting and private dining room. We have a lot of really exciting things planned for that space.

When did you know that Tatu had become a success?
There was a young couple from the Yucatán who dined with us a few months back and, of course, we were really hoping to impress them with how their native cuisine was being prepared at Tatu. Not only were they impressed, but they also went back to their company and insisted everyone come check us out. Needless to say, we were very happy and very thankful for that.

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