Uptownian taqueria with a twist

Having the property next door open up can bring tremendous anxiety -- what if the new neighbors are gang-bangers, or worse, gang-bangers who only pretend to like your fudge brownies? Taking no chances, the man behind Rock 'n' Taco, opening Friday

Taco's a patio-equipped, late-night Cali-Mex eatery next door to nightspot Aura, whose owner snatched the adjacent space up after former tenant Rocco's exited, then classed it up with a lofty, skylight-paneled front room, purple-and-black wallpaper, an enormous mirrored bar framed in gold leaf, and cow-print velvet chairs -- themed after the same animal that'll soon cause you to break them. The menu, served by a vivaciously female staff, is designed by an ex-French Room asst chef, and centers on LA street tacos ranging from the traditional (skirt steak, pork shoulder, citrus-soaked chicken...) to signatures like the pineapple/achiote "Don Ho Pollo" and the creamy cilantro dressing/citrus'd fish "Beach Boys Baja", begging the question, "who let the Pet Sounds out?". Entrees run from ribeye fajitas to the "Sublime" plate (banana leaf-braised pork & roasted corn-jicama slaw), while apps include "Roasted Korn Queso" and tomato-chipotle salsa'd "Red Hot Chili Pepper Calamari", after which absolutely no one will want to suck your kiss

Tequila dominates the bar (including $550/bottle Gran Patron Platinum), while signature drinks include a cocoa-topped rum number, vodka-spiked sangria, and 3 frozen margs tentatively named the Show Stopper, the Stunner, and the Shocker -- if your neighbors try that, they might like your fudge brownies a little too much.