Piraat Beer and Baja Cabo Taco Grill

After my adventure in La Mirada with craft beers and delicious gourmet tacos, I am now inspired! I picked this beer up at a liquor store next to a taco stand (see our Gerlach's review) because I loved the swashbuckling label. I drank some on the show and it was pretty much everything they say it is... (see promo below) It was kind of pricey... $5.50 for just the one small bottle, but worth trying.

Thanks again to Kenny Yowell and Bill Hemphill for hooking us up on Beer Dinner night!

Piraat Ale from the Van Steenberge Brewery located in Ertvelde, Belgium.

Based on ales drunk by seafaring captains in the 17th and 18th century, Piraat is an IPA historically but a Triple in strength. Piraat comes in at a chest hair growing 10.5% ABV.

Despite the high alcohol content, Piraat is an extremely flavorful and aromatic ale. It pours with a nice golden hue and subtle haze and smells of citrus and hops. The head is thick and creamy and gives off a waft of spices and fruitiness.


Taco Talk Episode #17

Beer flights at Cabo Baja Taco Grill in La Mirada

This episode features more Kogi talk, a fun video of our Beer Dinner in La Mirada and the Taco Maven drinking too much PIRAAT Belgian Ale. Also a cute 'News of the Weird' featuring a line of tacos reaching over 120 feet in Atlanta.



Kogi Kogi!

Roy Choi. Great name. Great enterprise. Great talent. It's really quite amazing. Am I a fan of the tacos? Yes and no. I love what he has done for tacos, food fusion and food trucks in general. I like all his sauces and high quality fillings, but I think he uses too much sauce on everything. AND there is the issue of kimchi.... not my fav. AND I really really really really HATE waiting in line on a street corner.

Still, his total dominance of the taco, truck and food world is undeniable, and to this force of culinary creativity, the Maven bows down.

Check out this fun and informative links below!
LA Weekly Article about A-Frame

Article on Chego    Also :: http://www.eatchego.com/

LA Times Early Interview


World's Longest Taco Line!

Made up of fish tacos by the students at Emory University in Atlanta with sustainable cod fish.


La Oaxaquena


This restaurant in San Francisco made headlines this month for serving a grasshopper taco and a tarantula torta. Dios Mio. I'm sure they are great but I can't see I will ever be trying THAT. It looks like a Klingon Taco!

On the fun side I notice on their website that they make a strawberry tamale that looks a bit like mine!

Can you imagine eating this between two tortillas???


El Pollo Loco

Ah the memories. How I used to love this place when low prices and big portions where paramount in my young life!

I hadn't been there for 15 years when I sat in on a Drive-Thru Taco Taste Test with Dean Valentine on his internet show Playing With Food. It was great fun. The truth is that their crispy chicken taco with roast chicken inside was stellar. We did this taste test in September right before Taco Talk hit the airwaves.

You can hear an edited mp3 of that episode HERE.

I haven't been back mostly because there hasn't been a Pollo Loco in front of me at the right moment. This week Side 'o Rice stopped in for their new Baja Style Fish Taco. He is really really really PICKY and he really really liked it. He got a taco and a large drink for under $4.

It reminds me of this awesome place I like to go down the Baja Peninsula in Todos Santos called Pollo Chiqui. All they do is roast chickens on a spit all day and they are slightly yellow with Achiote the way Pollo Loco is. They also have the same style salsa that Pollo Loco serves. It must be a regional thing or an Ancient Cholo Secret.

Hurry in because it appears as though they will only be available for a limited time.

Good goin' Pollo Loco!

Taco Talk Episode #16

The strawberry tamales were a hit! Lots of fun tidbits here. Happy Valentine's Day.


Mas Malo, Downtown Los Angeles

It was really nice to see the new space. Very 'grand' and vintage on 7th Street just S. of Grand. Kind of HILARIOUS how a taco truck named Danny's parks right outside. I guess all the cooks and waitresses like to eat there.

Still a fan of the ground beef and pickle. I think the vegetarian version of that taco is really fun too. Side 'o Rice wasn't as enamored as I was. He lied on camera apparently. PUTO! I swear I think he had a cold that was killing his tastebuds... But there are a few people out there who aren't fans.

I LOVE IT!!!!!!


Valentine's Day Tamales

Make Tamales Movie (click here)

Tamales aren't tacos. I know... I know... and I am the Taco Maven, not the Tamale Maven. However, I have a proclivity for festivity and if you can, you must!

I was inspired by Amapola's strawberry Masa and the apparent ease (jajajajaja) of putting a tamale together once the hard part (the masa) was being done for you. It's still tricky, getting just the right amount on the husk, wrapping it up, tying it etc. But it's fun too!

They sold me a 5 lb bag of Masa. I could have asked for less... it's about $1 per lb. I froze some of it. We'll see if it comes back. I was agonizing over the filling. It seemed like a waste to put fresh strawberries in there since they would be all wilty by tamale's end. I decided to use Jam.

I bought a nice jar of the 4 berry jam made by Bonne Maman, that's right, a French company. I thinned it with vanilla, cinnamon and some agave syrup because it wasn't that sweet. My goal was to make a charmingly small tamale because normally I think tamales are too big and too doughy. I tried to use a generous amount of filling but if you use too much it just runs out which might be why most tamales are light on the filling!

I'm pretty happy with the results. You can see a few pictures here. I'm going to serve them with fresh thickened cream (thickened by adding a little fresh lemon juice) and drizzle a little caramel over them. If you got hold of some great strawberries or raspberries you could add a few slices of those too. Also a few crushed sugary pecans as garnish. I also bought a dozen of those adorable Nuez cookies they sell at Amapola. They have a little powdered sugar on top and are made with pecans so they should go together nicely.

Because my tamales were small, they only needed to steam for 20-30 min. I saw a few recipes that said cook for 2 hours! But you can tell when they are done because they firm and fluff up and you can feel it through the corn husk. You don't want them to get too hard because then they will be tough.

Have fun with the garnish and voila!

El Tejuino Potato Tacos & Birria

On my way back to Amapola for Valentine's Day Strawberry Masa, I noticed this truck again. I'd noticed it the first time but was more concerned about finding the market. Seemingly, the stretch of Florence Blvd. between the 110 and Compton Blvd. is a taco truck MECCA. Incredible stuff... A truck and a brick and mortar of Mariscos Nayarit, a Tacos de Estilo DF truck, a Tacos Arandas Truck, a Los Reyes Truck and the one that had 'the vibe', Tejuino.

It was 6 o'clock and they were shutting down. I scampered out of my car (they are on the same block of Florence as the Swap Meet... around Central or Avalon). I think they were surprised to see a Gringa hitting up their truck so they asked a lot of questions. They also gave me some fun 'end of the day' samples; a delicious cup of tomato consume birria broth with onions and cilantro. BRILLIANT! And also the Aztec drink the truck is named for, Tejuino which taste a little like Tamarindo but creamier and sweeter with corn 'milk' and other magical ingredients.

I could see from the back of the truck sign that they had 'tacos dorados', but what kind? Turns out potato and also simple cheese ones (made with requeson). 75 cents each. Small, but beyond crispy and tasty. Perfectly seasoned potatoes, nice cabbage onion slaw on top. I know these are meant to be eaten WITH the Birria probably... but you know I'm wimpy. Not quite ready for the goat stew but I know people who are.

It's a father and son team and the father has been cooking for over 20 years. They are only there during the day, until 6pm right now maybe later as Spring approaches. I don't think my pix do it justice but boy were those tacos exactly perfectly right.

Follow them on FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/eltejuinazo


El Parian

El Parian is one of those old school places that gurus tend to rave about. I think I came to the party too late. The thing that impressed me the most were the cool maps painted on the wall. Other than that.... Hmmm...

It was dark and dingy. I drove by a few times (On Pico near Hoover) and was a little put off by the bars etc. Okay, maybe it's not the best neighborhood at night or something. Once inside, all over the wall are raves and reviews, including one from Sir Gold about the Birria. Granted. I didn't try the Birria and it may indeed be thee thing to get. But I'm not really down with Chivo... except in the cheese form.

They don't have a ton of choices. I opted for the carne asada and while I liked that my one taco had about 1lb of chopped grilled meat inside it, the quality was just 'ok'. It was a little dry, a little tough... the salsa was fine but nothing to sing about.

I see from Yelp that they serve Costco chips out of a bag. Not every place has a deep fryer, but if I were them I'd order some good chips from a place around the block or something. Or at least buy good Grueso thick oily chips and not something so pedestrian.

Also, the dim seedy look of the place did not encourage me to want to eat there. My photos make it look brighter and friendlier than it was. I ate my taco in the car, mostly because I had my dog with me and it was starting to get hot.

They have a tortilla gal in front pressing away and I did like the way they wrapped all the taco fixins separately and they seemed really nice. Just not sure I understand what all the fuss is about...

I will say I could see it being a great place for some Superbowl take out. Just order the carne asada for 12 or whatever with all the fixins.

Kinda like goin' to KFC.


Larchmont Bungalow

What an unlikely spot for a taco, but there it is. Fresh grilled halibut with mango, papaya, cucumber salad and homemade tortillas. $11 for 3 of them. The rest of the menu looks good too. I didn't actually EAT the tacos, but my friend did and he was pretty happy. Not exactly sure what that white sauce was... ranch? But they will give you salsa if you ask... (I know, you shouldn't have to ask for salsa with a taco!)

Go go go Bungalow!
107 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004


Taco Talk Episode #15


Oh Mighty Taco! I have been converted. The ground beef and cheese burrito shipped all the way from Buffalo was FANTASTIC.


Erika's & Kimberly's

I came across this truck in Beverly Hills about a month ago. It's near where I work. Then I came across it again in a slightly different location.

The first time I asked the woman who was cooking and she said it wasn't her truck. Then I got more info that both the cook and the younger gal who takes your orders both work for the woman who owns a catering business named after her daughters.

The food is incredibly fresh. Every day they have something different. One time it was picadillo, then crispy chicken/potato tacos, then fried whole fish. Delicious, fast, cheap, fabulous.

I guess they do catering too.

You can find them on Doheny in the morning, about 2 blocks up on the right side. Then they move over to Lexington and Rexford for lunch and then up to the Coldwater Canyon Park across from the Fire Station after that.

If you are anywhere nearby, it's worth it to give them a call...


Mighty Taco

Mighty Taco is a Mexican food joint, located in.... Buffalo. Huh? I went through Buffalo once, on my way back from Canada. To my mind, this is a very UNLIKELY spot for the world's greatest taco, but people LOVE this place. It was brought to my attention by our fabulous show runner, Emily. Due to her enthusiasm, and Mighty Taco's cult like popularity in the world of social media, we decided to try some on the show.

They actually have a service wherein they will send you burritos via Fedex. Look how cute they look in the box above! So on this week's show we will be eating some and talking with their marketing CEO via telephone. Below is a firsthand account of what I am now calling Mighty Tacoism by a friend of Emily's who is a fellow fan. Go Mighty Taco!

Mighty Taco
By Johnny Metzinger

First things first, Mighty Taco is a fast food restaurant. But unlike many chains, Mighty Taco, or "Mighty" as it is known by locals, harkens back to a time when fast food was not a derogatory term. More than a few times I have received my food before the cashier could even take my money and the quality of the food does not suffer for it.

As for the food itself, Mighty doesn't skimp on the details. Every taco is completely customizable. Don't like ground beef? There are plenty of steak and chicken options available. If hard shell or soft shell has become a boring standard choice from a taco place, Mighty provides a fresh option by offering 100% wheat tortillas in addition to standard corn and flour. Nachos, jalapeno poppers, and taco salads are all fair game as well. But where Mighty really excels is in its local flavoring. Based in Western New York, Mighty Taco has succeeded in truly bringing the flavor of Buffalo back to the people. In fact Buffalo sauce is a standard ingredient in a half dozen different meal options. On cold Buffalo nights patrons can also be found pouring in for chipotle chili, presented in a number of varieties.

On the whole, Mighty Taco is the quintessential manifestation of paying attention to the details. It floats in that perfect zone of being big enough to be available to the region, but not too big to lose its ties to the community, and that shows in some really great ways. National chains rarely come close to offering the sincerity that Mighty does with its little touches. Stop by in October and you'll be greeted by any number of hanging bats and seasonal decorations. Indeed, Mighty has become part restaurant and part community destination.

It might be easy to write off Mighty Taco as  "Just another taco place", but to do so would be a mistake. People who have had the Mighty Taco experience will affirm that in less time than you can say "Oh my god they actually deliver burritos nationwide?" That's right. So in demand are these burritos that locals will order them by the dozen via Fedex because no other taco place will do, even once Buffalo is no longer home.

NEWSFLASH! After writing this post I had a burrito for lunch that was made on Mon. shipped across the country and eaten on Thurs. It was incredible! Seriously! WTF?????? I gave two of them to friends and they freaked out too! Why/How is this darn thing so good. The ingredients are so simple. I don't get it! But I LIKE it:

:) The Taco Maven

Click here to see our Taco Talk Episode on Mighty Taco... http://talkmedianetworks.com/2011/02/10/taco-talk-episode-15/
Mighty Taco on Urbanspoon


Taco Talk Episode #14


Really fun show with lots of cooking info including where to buy the best taco supplies and a fun interview with Ramon Arvizu of Casita Mexicana.



Amapola Market

This place was incredible. I went to the original (and now smallest) location in S. Central LA at the corner of Compton and Florence. A place I confess I had never been. I went at around 11am on a Sunday morning and it was still packed even though it was raining! Doesn't anyone go to church anymore?

We were sent there by Ramiro Arvizu for their crispy pork taquitos. At least 50 people were waiting in line but it was worth it. 3 for $1.25! They also have an incredible selection of  meat, masa, mole and special baked goods.

You can see a video of the market here :: http://www.vimeo.com/19469054

Check out one of their locations!