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Archive for the ‘tacos’ Tag

Tacos Plus   Leave a comment

 

sal sign

A neighbor who frequently visits Los Angeles shared the names of a few tacos stands he frequents while there. While I didn’t go to any of his recommendations (I’m saving the list for next time), I did enjoy Salazar which isn’t a stand, but a casual eatery serving impressive tacos.

sal tables

This is a dirt-floor establishment with plastic chairs and metal tables. It’s a covered patio complete with live trees, cacti and a Southern California vibe that comes, in part, from the restaurant’s bones. It used to be an auto shop.

The focus now is on hot, fresh from the kitchen corn and flour tortillas and tacos that drip with flavors. The regularly-changing menu also features chilaquilles, machaca, and four different types of tacos – among other items.

sal machaca

The clever plating of the machaca is as appealing to the eye as the meal is satisfying to eat. Braised beef is served in a cast-iron pan set on a thick-wood cutting board. A fried egg sits atop the shredded meat. I ordered tacos, but I enjoyed scooping out the pieces of beef that had caramelized on the bottom of the pan. (I was obviously with a good friend who allowed, perhaps even encouraged, me to do so.)

saltaccos

The tacos were the real treat, particularly the carne asada. Corn tortillas were piled with cubes of marinated steak topped with cilantro and diced red onions. I liked the chicken asada and al pastor for the fresh flavors, but the carne asada are my favorites.

Salazar
Four plates
2490 N. Fletcher Dr.
Los Angeles, CA

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Mas que Tacos Part I   Leave a comment

It might be a cliché, or at least an exaggeration, but it seems as if there’s a taco stand on every corner in Mexico City. While the made-on-the spot, hand-held typical street food is fresh and tasty, there’s much more to the cuisine than what you’d expect. Nonetheless, this post will focus on what comes to mind when thinking of Mexican food – beyond tacos.

Cabrera mole

Mole is one of my favorites and I had it twice. Both were the dark, Oaxacan versions that were rich, smooth and blended the sweet with the savory. However, my preference was for Cabera 7’s rendition. Although, it was beautifully plated, the chicken arrived cold and had to be sent back to the kitchen. When it did arrive with the proper temperature, it was exceptional. House-made, fresh corn tortillas and white rice helped absorb some of the sauce so none of it went uneaten.

cabrera music

The other mole was at Sanborn’s. This ubiquitous chain has everything: clothing, accessories, a pharmacy, shoes, a restaurant and more. The mole here was too sweet; it lacked the balance that’s the hallmark of the dish. It’s a department store, afterall.

Burritos are less common in Mexico than you might think, but Ensalada y Burritos Gourmet demonstrated what many fast-food burrito chains lack: an abundance of flavor. My thick burrito was packed with pibil, a colorful, more savory-than-spicy version of pulled pork, with rice and black beans.

We did venture away from the standards, but that’s for another post.

Cabrera 7
Plaza Luis Cabrera 7, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Norte,
06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Ensalada y Burritos Gourmet
Coahuila 125,Roma Nte.,
06700 Ciudad de México, D.F.,México, Mexico

Taco Tour   1 comment

Back-to-back taco tastings at two Los Angeles taquerias may not constitute a true test, but it did provide a fun opportunity for comparison – plus alliteration. Both Mexicali Taco & Co. and Yuca’s have garnered a lot of ink in The Los Angeles Times, mainly thanks to critic Jonathan Gold; all of it well deserved.

I first heard of Mexicali Taco several years ago in a Gold review. What I recall is that the owners travel to Baja a few times a week for the tortillas. While I think there are plenty of good tortillerias in East L.A., I appreciate Mexicali’s efforts. They are worth it. We ordered carne asada tacos. The meat comes almost naked on a plate, wrapped only in a soft tortilla. A grilled scallion is added for can only be color. It was the carne we were after, but a small salsa bar features a few different heat levels, pickled onions, radishes, slaw, cucumbers and lime. The charred diced meat is surprisingly tender.

However, Yuca’s carne asada is a bit more flavorful. These feature grilled pieces of meat with fresh onion, tomatoes and cilantro. They don’t need anything else except two corn tortillas, which don’t hold up well. Yuca’s offers a few outdoor tables, otherwise plan to eat in your car – if you can’t wait to get home.

The best of the taco world, where these two are concerned, would be Mexicali’s tortillas because they hold up well and have a distinct corn taste, and Yuca’s melt-in-your-mouth carne asada.

Mexicali’s Taco & Co. 
Four Plates
702 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles

Yuca’s
Four Plates
2056 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles

Winning Local Flavor   Leave a comment

LastSteep sign

With one exception, we’ve yet to be disappointed with our dining experiences when visiting Crested Butte; that singular incident involved service not food. Still, there’s no better stamp of approval for a restaurant than the number of locals who frequent it. We were surprised, and encouraged, by the impressive number of CB residents at The Last Steep Bar and Grill for a mid-afternoon lunch where we snagged a table with a great vantage point on all the activity.

It’s one thing for locals to patronize local establishments, but it’s another when out-of-towners are made to feel welcome. Such was the case at the Steep.

LastSteeppork

Although it took a little while for our order to be taken, we understood why: the place was packed inside and out. Still, service was friendly and we were never made to feel rushed. The menu features a large selection of sandwiches ranging from burgers to wraps, from a Turkey Club to PoBoys. Salads are also available. My husband ordered the Kansas City Chief: a Kaiser bun piled with pulled pork topped with house-made barbecue sauce, which was more spicy than tang. Bottles of the stuff are sold on-site, as evidenced by a man who bought a case.

LastSteeptacos

I was pleased with my Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos. Corn tortillas warmed on the grill enveloped the sweet and savory filling enhanced by melted cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream and salsa. It came with warm chips dusted with chile powder.

We felt right at home.

The Last Steep Bar and Grill
208 Elk Ave.
Crested Butte, Colo.

Keep on Truckin’   Leave a comment

macotacotruck

Food trucks are an interesting phenomenon. They have a very different persona from other dining venues. After all, the cooking takes place in hot, cramped quarters – on wheels, which means they could be gone tomorrow. However, downtown Colorado Springs has a food truck court thanks to Curbside Cuisine in the paved area of a one-time gas station. On any given day, between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., made-to-order food is being served.

truckshrimppo

While perusing the menus of the various trucks (whose offerings on our recent visit included pizzas, wraps, crepes and the two we selected: Creole Kitchen and Maco’s Tacos), a woman walking away from the former, said, “The Shrimp Po’boy is to die for.” It had already caught my eye. There was further affirmation when I ordered: “That’s my best seller,” said the owner. And with good reason. Tender, lightly-breaded shrimp fried so quickly there’s no hint of oil, sit on a roll slathered with tangy remoulade loaded with lettuce and tomatoes. It could be habit forming.

The tacos were less impressive, although they’re a bargain at four for $5. The chicken was subtly seasoned, as was the pork, but both were overpowered by an abundance of diced onion and fresh cilantro – fortunately, I like those flavors. Burritos and tamales are other options at Maco’s.

macostacos

The beauty of Curbside Cuisine is that the trucks are likely to consistently be in the same spot. Although, I’d follow Creole Kitchen almost anywhere.

truck

Curbside Cuisine
Four Plates
225 N. Nevada Ave.
(Southeast corner of Nevada and Platte avenues)
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Keeping An Open Mind   Leave a comment

gordosign

Located in an old strip mall, Tacqueria Los Gordos is the type of place you might be forgiven for ignoring. But don’t let the setting deter you.

A craving for quick, authentic Mexican food led us Los Gordos. One section is for take-out, and the other is a sit-down restaurant. Initially we thought we’d get the food to go, but then decided on a table in the colorful room with festive music rumbling through the speakers.

As the name implies, this is a taco place. It’s also an enchilada, tostada, relleno and torta place.

Gordo

Tacos al Pastor (pork) were filled with small bites of barbequed pork and lots of cilantro. Fresh lime on the plate for squeezing over the taco contents added a layer of zestiness. The guacamole tostada featured fresh, chunky pieces of avocado topped with shredded lettuce and cheese. The only problem was the tostada shell which shattered with each bit. Still, while the shell remained in large pieces it was like a hand-held taco salad. Several tortas are featured. My husband ordered a torta which he found surprisingly spicy – and filling.

gordorelleno

The real treat was the chile relleno. The deep fried chile was cooked perfectly without being greasy. A mild red sauce smothered the plate and the result was a meal in itself full of the depth of each element. The crunchiness of the fried batter-coated chile complemented the soft chile-cheese combo.

Taqueria Los Gordos is a good example of not judging a restaurant by its neighborhood.

Taqueria Los Gordos
Four Plates
1034 S Sable Blvd.
Aurora, CO

La Rosa By Any Other Nombre   1 comment

Rosatacos

There’s not much to the small town of Palmer Lake just west of Monument; in fact, there isn’t even a lake – just the imprint of its past existence. Yet, the range of good places to eat is impressive. La Rosa Southwestern Dining is the newest on the scene with fresh takes on standard New Mexican fare.

The restaurant boasts an extensive selection of tequilas and Mexican beer. The house margarita was the perfect blend of sweet and tangy.

The special the night we visited consisted of three tacos filled with chicken, chorizo, pineapple, grilled vegetables and lots of cilantro. It was refreshing and light, a contrast to the heavy, but palate-pleasing Chicken Mole.

Rosamole

When mole is on the menu I lose my sense of taste adventure: I can’t ignore the allure. La Rosa’s mole is a thick blend of spices and chocolate with enough of a kick that I was doubly grateful I had a margarita nearby. The rice and beans, in their simplicity, complimented the flavorful sauce. The only issue with the dish is the difficulty in cutting the chicken, which is a half still on the bone. It also detracted from the overall visual appeal of the dish.

Rosarelleno

The Chile Rellenos and Fish Veracruz were other dishes sampled by our group, and each offered distinct, rich flavors. I’d like to return to try some of the other entrees, but will have to ask for a menu where the mole has been removed. Otherwise, I won’t be able to resist.

La Rosa Southwestern Dining
Four-and-a-half Plates
25 Highway 105
Palmer Lake, Colo.
http://larosasouthwesterndining.com/