12.28.2010

Tacos Guisados in DF



Always wonder what that word means... 'guisado'. Now I know! It means stew, or stewed meats, veggies, etc. But that's not what I had! I had pastor of course. SHEESH. 5 tacos for about $2 on the streets after midnight. The tortillas were small, about the size of my palm, but load with grilled meat, pineapple and hot salsa. Both salsas are above average hot. The green one is avocado and serrano chiles. DIOS MIO!

Before the tacos we went to a place called Diente de Oro (gold tooth). It's a whiskey bar and likes to play American music but of course I had tequila and sangrita!

Salud!





12.26.2010

Down in the Baja...


Having a ball! Eating up a taco storm.

Made it from Tijuana to Todos Santos in 20 hours over 2 days.

Did some great eating!

12.18.2010

Yet Another Taco Memory...


The term 'memory' is a bit of an oxymoron here because I am definitely starting to lose above mentioned memories in general. Names... where have all the names gone and why can't I remember any of them?!?!?!

When we moved to Los Angeles from Greenwich Village in 1977, we wound up spending the summer in Woodland Hills with some distant relatives. It was hot. It was boring. It was quite the shock compared to my beloved boho childhood haunt. Pretty much the only good thing was the Carvel ice cream shop and this darn taco place I can't remember the name off.

They were diagonally across from each other on Ventura and Winnetka? or maybe Ventura and Topanga Canyon? Well... this taco place had an incredible crispy ground beef taco. I can still sort of taste the salsa. I think it was a sit down restaurant that had a to go window. I want to say it was someone's name... like George's.... but that is a shot in the taco DARK.

We only stayed in the valley for 6 weeks. I definitely ate there more than once. While looking for an apt. of our own in the Valley, my mom made a wrong turn and we wound up in Brentwood. We stopped for lunch at the NOSH BOX and I said... "Mom! I really want to live HERE!" We lucked out and found the cheapest apt. on Barrington Ave. with a pool, and the rest is history. Well... my history... but still.

It was quite a while before I found a taco to love in Brentwood. It was all burgers and fries and Maria's Pizza. Funny, I used to make my boyfriend (who was older than me and had a car) drive us to In-n-Out on Ventura and Winnetka, but I never thought to go back and find that taco place.

I guess winding up in the Valley would have been worth it for those darn crispy tacos!

:)

Tinga Taqueria


Newish trendyish taco place on La Brea. I'm still unclear exactly what is going on there... but I get the feeling it's Indian infused which does NOT interest me. OK. Maybe it's not Indian... but... now I see on YELP that people are comparing it to La Super Rica in Santa Barbara! That is just not possibile and seems WRONG.

Based on this short audio review by J. Gold, sounds like the only yummy thing is the corn.

Here is also a longer review from the LA WEEKLY.

My friend went and was at first entranced by the hip slick vibe and variety, but afterwards, she was in some SERIOUS intestinal distress.

I don't know... I'm not feelin' it. I'm just sayin'..... but that's really not fair. I should try it, and I will!

Here's the link.

http://www.tingabuena.com/

Headin' Down to Baja...


For the past 5 years or so, I've been driving the Baja Penninsula... all the way to the end... almost to Cabo San Lucas. It takes about 22 hours to get there, and the drive is absolutely beautiful. About an hour N. of Cabo is a small town called Todos Santos. It attracts lots of artists and surfers. It is a fish taco Mecca. This link gives you a good idea of what is available there...

http://www.todossantos-baja.com/

I had my first fish taco there 9 years ago at a place called Pilar's. She had a little hut near the bus station and the words 'fish taco' and 'Pilars' were synonymous in the way 'Kleenex' means 'tissues'. It was a revelation. First, the price! $1!!!!! Secondly, the freshness and mix of flavors... crispy batter, crispy fresh cabbage, sparkling fresh pico de gallo and that soothing splash of crema (semi-watered down sour cream)

I died and went to heaven right there even though the shell admittedly was a soft, fresh, corn tortilla.

Pilar has sinced move on... but there are plenty of other places down there to enjoy this perfect food.

I will be walking on the beach with my dog, eating fish tacos and making videos!

Here's hoping your Holiday is equally enjoyable.

Besos
The Taco Maven

12.17.2010

Xmas Tamales!!!!



I had the privilege for many years of sharing Christmas with a family where the Mom was raised in Texas and had a very Western Xmas sensibility. She always made enchiladas on Xmas Eve and Tamales on Xmas Day. I have come to think of this as a tradition, one I have since utilized for myself and other families.

Tamales are just plain fun, especially when paired with a simple salad made of jicama, avocado, tangerines and a light dressing. So easy and delicious.

Two great places to order and pick up some gourmet complex tamales are....

WESTSIDE :: http://www.tamarastamales.com/

EASTSIDE :: http://www.cacaodeli.com/

You can also find them at markets and even on street corners this time of year. They aren't the easiest thing to make, so unless you are really ambitious, support your local tamale makers.

BE MERRY!

Top 5 Fish Tacos in Los Angeles


I'm going to include shrimp here too... where applicable! The fish taco... it's all about the batter, the freshness of the oil, the chewiness and structural soundness of the tortilla and of course the salsa.

Baja style! Is there any other?

Numero Uno ::  MARISCOS JALISCO TRUCK Crispy shrimp taco (Olympic near Soto)

Numero Dos :: TACOS BAJA ENSENADA fish taco (Whittier and Atlantic)

Numero Tres :: RICKY'S FISH TACO STAND fish taco (Virgil and Sunset)

Numero Cuatro :: HOUSE OF TACOS shrimp taco w/ saffron (Market St. near Florence and La Brea)

Numero Cinco :: MAZATLAN governor shrimp tacos fajita style (Broadway & 9th Downtown LA)

Top 5 Crispy Tacos in Los Angeles


Top 5 with regards to things like... would I drive 20 miles for this baby? Do I dream about this taco when I am hungry? Would most people I served it to LOVE it? That's the criteria. According to the poll we have running, most of you don't even really LOVE crispy tacos. What's a Taco Maven to do? Keep on crunchin' I guess!

Numero Uno :: MALO Crispy Ground Beef Pickle Taco w/ Red Salsa

Numero Dos :: VIVA FRESH Crispy Chicken Taco with Jalapeno Salsa

Numero Tres :: LAS ANITAS Soy Crispy Taco with Green Salsa

Numero Cuatro :: TACOMIENDO Crispy Potato Taco w/ Salsa Casera

Numero Cinco :: HOUSE OF TACOS Crispy Ground Turkey Taco w/ Salsa Casera

12.16.2010

Taco Talk Episode #9


Olvera Street at Xmas time. Santa brought me exactly what I wanted, a great crispy potato taco from La Noche Buena.

We probably ate too much, but it was fun.


Happy Holidays!!!!

12.14.2010

Feliz Navidad!

We are having TOO much fun talking about tacos! Thank you for reading our blog and tuning it.

ox Taco Maven and Side 'o Rice.

12.13.2010

Tacos Por Favor

Or as I'm going to call them, "Gracias, no".

Not sure what people see in this place. I've driven by it regularly for years. It always looked disheveled to me. I heard it was a place where old Cuban dudes hung out and played checkers or watched soccer or something. I'd been hearing good things about their carnitas... but I didn't get their carnitas. I tried their crispy tacos and they were pretty awful all around.

I had a crispy mushroom, a crispy potato and a crispy pastor.

First the potato. Chunks of potato. Chunks of potato that were too stiff/firm as in not cooked enough. Not a lot of flavor either sadly. The shell was ok but it crumbled into bits after just one bite. More like a flauta shell somehow even though clearly it was corn. Giant cubes of undercooked potato don't work in a potato taco.

Second the mushrooms. Tasty mushrooms. Next time if I go back I'll get them in a burrito with one of their designer tortillas (spinach, tomato or jalapeno) But in the crumbly shell with lackluster chopped tomato they were pretty wimpy. Also maybe it was like 4 mushrooms and tons of rough chopped iceberg... not shredded. Seriously!

Third the pastor. Worst one of all. It had some vague pastor-like seasoning but it was big solid pieces of pork loin or some other pork cut. They probably don't even know what a trompo is. Not shaved or finely cut. So large and chewy I needed a steak knife to cut it. Huge chunks of pork. The kind that choke you on every eating attempt. JUST EFFING AWFUL. I'm scarred for life by it. JEEEEEEEEZUS WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

The salsas were just ok too... nothing special. Limp Pico de Gallo... simple green, simple red. They were no way near good enough to save the taco. BLECK. The chips were done as strips instead of triangles. Not my fav either. They were OH-K... nothing to call Mexico about.

The place was dark and cavernous inside. They give out free key chains. I was hoping I would like the place enough to proudly don a key chain but it was not meant to be. I know people swear by this place. They have some decent veggie options which is great. They are sort of stuck in a time warp but not in a good way.

Really I'm just baffled.

Pomegranate Margarita



Last Saturday, down on Olvera Street I had a delightful Pomegranate Margarita. It was blended and the most beautiful pink color. Normally I prefer my margs on the rocks, but this was so pretty. It had about 15 pomegranate seeds as garnish too.

Below is my pretty darn good marg recipe. To it you could add a splash of POM or use a combo of reg. silver tequila and some of the really fun Pomegranate infused tequila made by LA PINTA.

Pretty darn festive.

1 shot of silver tequila (patron or siete leguas) or 1/2 and 1/2 La Pinta
1/2 shot of grand marnier (fondly known as gramma)
1 shot of frozen lime-aid (Minute Made or any other)
1 shot of chilled water

*** if you like it strong you can add 1/4 shot of La Pinta (rather than doing half and half) also in that case you might not need the gramma. Experiment!

shake, stir, mix. Blend if you like. But if you blend make enough for at least two and used crushed ice or there will nothing to really blend.

YUM

12.10.2010

Taco Talk Tee Shirts!

Now available for puchase via PayPal. Shirts are $20 plus $5 for priority mail shipping. This is practically our cost because we are doing full color and small quantities etc.

Heat pressed onto an American Apparel ringer old-style tee with arm banding. Available in both Men's and Women's in these sizes just to start. Let us know if you have a special request. Very fun. Very sexy!

See the logo below. Shirt is brownish/beige with dark brown sleeve and collar accents.




Available Sizes

Taco Talk Episode #8

 

La Cueva Leon in La Condesa - Perfect Pastor


We're back in the studio for a special Mexico City episode. We have also been accepted by iTunes as a podcast! Please look for us there and enjoy!

LISTEN HERE

12.07.2010

Happy Birthday Brubeck!

90! Wowsa!!!!! Amazing. Love this stuff. Goes great with gourmet tacos!


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Las Glorias de Buen Comer



Hidden under the freeway in Silverlake this tiny garden shack serves up delicious homemade Mexican Food. I was driving by, and I really liked their sign. I convinced a local Silverlakian to join me and we fell in love. Not with each other, but with the food! Then I told a few other locals about it and they still thank me. We all muse how it is we drove by a million times and missed it, but now we're mostly just glad we found it!

I think the name translates into some like... Gloria's place for good eating!
One thing they are known for is their variety of vegetarian menu options. It's quite extensive, down to a vegan meat substitute that really does look like carne asada. Their only tiny flaw is that it takes a while to get food there. The reason? I'm gonna go with 'fresh takes longer'. Better to call it in and come pick it up which I noticed a lot of people were doing. If you choose to eat in, leave plenty of time and enjoy all the plants and the fountain on the covered patio.

That's my friend Marcus manning the camera. He owns FIX COFFEE in Echo Park where I am still slingin' pancakes twice a month. Last week it was Cherry Pie Pancakes and boy were they good!!!!!!

12.01.2010

La Serenata de Garabaldi


Enrique and I ate here over a month ago and reviewed it on our show. Normally I post the videos right away on the blog for E-Z viewing, but because Enrique wasn't a fan, out of respect for this wonderful place, I didn't post.

Last week, the amazing owner of this restaurant passed away. You can read a great article about him in the LA Times HERE.

I loved learning that the name came from a place in Mexico City where all the Mariachi gather to sing. It's called Garabaldi Square, hence the name 'Song of Garabaldi'. I kept wondering how their dove logo fit into the name. Was a 'Garabaldi' a type of bird? Was the owner's name Garabaldi and his 'song' was his incredible food? 15 years later, mystery solved!

There was also a recent review by S. Irene that did acknowledge that although the quality and consistency may be down somewhat, it's still worth going. I feel quite certain, that every foodie in this town (who has been here for 20 years) has a life changing memory about the first time they ate at this place. Read her recent review HERE.

I think it's still good. You just have to order the right thing and probably have a better chance of getting the best chef at dinner time. I still like the downtown place though I always felt their massive remodel (It took 2 years and involved Roman columns) took away all the cozy colorful charm of the original, smaller more humble layout.

I will always remember my first meal there. Only my ex-husband and 2 best friends would come because everyone else thought it was 'too dangerous'. From the parmesan cheese-flecked chips to the empanada style fish quesadilla and garlic salmon, every bite, every last bit of sauce scraped off the plate was divine.

Thank you Jose Rodriguez for your passion, dedication and your recipes! I'm still waiting for that recipe book!!!!!!

ox

Casa Cocina y Cantina, Downtown LA

http://www.casadowntown.com/

I was in a quandry. I just got back from Thanksgiving Vacation and I worked a 12 hour day. My virtuous plan was to go to yoga since I had failed my good yoga intentions all through Turkey Week. BUT. I really, really, REALLY, wanted a crispy taco. Malo was calling, but I was downtown and their soon to be new location on 7th and Grand wasn't open yet dammit. Plus traffic was beyond awful. I had to wait it out SOMEWHERE.....

So I've had my eye on this Casa place for a while. I noticed their Happy Hour looked pretty darn happy but where the heck was it any way? 'Up on the hill' people told me. 'But it's kind of hidden down below'. Hmmm... It's up but it's down... should I walk from my office at Broadway and 8th? No. It's too cold!!!! Do I really want a margarita when it's this cold? No! Can you make a hot toddy out of reposado?

It was a little hard to find. Grand and Hope do weird things up on 'Bunker Hill'. Does every town have a Bunker Hill??? Also the numbered streets are one way so you may find yourself going around the block multiple times to figure it out. It's between 3rd and 4th across from the Wells Fargo Center and it is lower than the sidewalk so you have to look down to see the outdoor bar. I found it! And found street parking which was still $4 at the meter, so there!

The biggest problem was I had no video camera. Was the moral of the story NEVER to leave home without my best friend FLIP? Should I wait for Side of Rice and go at a later date? Could I really eat a crispy taco at a place I'd never been, all by myself and NOT document it for Taco Talk??????? Well..... I did.

I wish I'd had my camera (my cheapo PCS Metro phone camera sucks and there is no way to get the crappy pix OFF the phone except to text to a friend and ask them to email me!) because they were having a fundraiser party that caused many to wear sombreros and have 'flip up cup' beer drinking contests. DARN.

So you will have to make do with one Yelp picture and my pithy descriptions.

I liked the service. Everyone was nice. They indulged my every whim including making a whiskey drink with anejo tequilla. Chamuco, Grand Marnier and Bitters - shaken and poured without ice into a whiskey glass. It was very very VERY tasty. I actually came up with the Gramma as a substitute for orange juice which I don't really like in drinks cuz it gives me a tummy ache.

I guess their menu has all sorts of options (even a lunchtime Chipotle style one that sounds awful) but the bar snacks were good. They had just added some new crispy tacos for the Fall Season. A chicken one and a beef rib one. Both were fine, though they tasted strangely identical. They don't give you any salsa with your taco. You have to ask for it. It's oh...kay..... Kind of fresh tasting with scallions... I know that recipe. I think Baja Fresh has one just like it. The tomatoes are cooked but very bright red. Not my thing. No heat whatsover and I wanted to add salt to it.

I made friends with some cool people next to me, and they got the guacamole and chips which also came with that red salsa and then two tiny tins of a wicked green and a habanero. THOSE were very tasty.

A very cute guy on my right had ordered the fish tacos and of course I thought of my sidekick. He said they weren't that great and really needed salsa, but they didn't give him any and he didn't ask. I kept thinking of what Enrique said in our Serenata review... 'It should taste good BEFORE you add the salsa and not rely on adding something for flavor."

The other thing about the crispies was this... They fell apart. I guess the same kind of tortilla that falls apart when steamed also falls apart when fried. It's as if the whole thing just crumbles and disintegrates after one bite. AWKWARD. But it was still tasty in it's own way. I think they were about $3.50 each.

Still hungry, as I had spent the whole day 'dieting' only to crash and burn by dinner, I ordered their mushroom quesadilla. Also on the bar snacks list. It had 6 different Japanese mushrooms in it and not too much cheese (which totally works for me). It came as 3 folded tacos really... corn, not flour... but they had been flattened with the cheese melted. That was EXTREMELY tasty. I gave 2 of them away to the nice people who had shared guacamole with me and they loved it as well.

I can't imagine going here and doing any thing other than what I did; sit at the bar and snack.

I'd like to try Happy Hour, but it's from 4:30 to 6:30pm which is a little early for my schedule.

OH and I forgot to mention they have Negro Modelo on tap AND a new beer from the Eagle Rock Brewery called XPA Revolution. I tasted a little and it was really flavorful and perfect with Mexican food.

ARRIBA!!!!