I went to visit a friend who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho. The Ski Season is ending and come July the Fishing Season will begin. I had some awesome tacos! There is a lot of Mexican Food in the small towns of Ketchum and nearby Hailey.
Here are the places we either ate at or researched!
Lago Azul (In Hailey on Croy St.) GREAT crispy chicken tinga tacos. Authentic. Also has Salvadorian food. They come in 2nd every year to Despo's in a Best Mexican Food Poll, but I think they are just as good if not better.
KB's (used to be in Ketchum - names means Ketchum Burritos - now they are in Hailey on the main drag)
SUPER friendly, clean, tasty Amerimex food. Cozy place to hang out too.
La Parilla (in Ketchum on the main drag in an old train) New owner took over about 6 months ago. About to get a beer/wine permit. Really good authentic food. The chef/owner cooked Pastor on the streets of Juarez for many years before coming to Idaho.
Despo's (in Ketchum, right off of Main St. on 4th st. (http://www.despossv.com/) They have been there for 25 years, they have been written up ALOT (Sunset Magazine Best Burritos) and they have a very clever slogan... 'Mexican Food with Altitude'. They also serve Margaritas (real ones) and are very kid friendly. I was looking for a less trendy, mainstream experience so I didn't go in.
One other place, La Cabanita, had a few Yelp fans, but it was a little sad looking and closed on Sunday so we didn't go in. They are on 5th st. down from Main.
A little semi-hidden gem in Sherman Oaks. Delicious homemade Mexican cooking. The 'Deli' in the title hails from when the place was more of a sandwich shop. They have been in business for 10 years, but for the last 5, the 'Deli' chef has departed and been replaced by someone who really knows how to make Enchiladas with Green Sauce!!!!
I spoke with the manager, Abraham. He's from Queretaro (say it 5x fast) which is a cool getaway area about 2 hours from Mexico City. He was telling me about a Barbacoa festival they have there every year where 20 different masters digs holes in the ground and roast lamb in banana-type leaves. WHOA.
I of course had the crispy taco plate. Fresh and tasty, but the thing that totally KILLED me were their salsas. The house salsa is almost green with cilantro and had a nice tangy, salty, savory taste with a tiny kick of heat. Their 'hot' sauce is made with tiny red Asian peppers and it was hot but also so flavorful. It wasn't about numbness but about zest and zip.
They are open for breakfast too. The pictures of the Huevos Rancheros looked terrific and since my tacos looked exactly like their picture I am assuming the pictures are a pretty good indication of what you will get when you order something.
As if all this cozy, charming greatness weren't enough, they also have juice. Abraham made me something special that comes from using the outer meat of the pineapple rather than the center. It was so creamy and delicious I was sure it had milk in it But no, just the pineapple.
From the outside it's definitely unexciting. You would NEVER drive by and say... 'Dang... I GOTTA go there'. But once you get inside, the friendly tables and cheerful yellow walls make you want to sit and chat a while. They also have a nice TV for soccer games and the news. etc.
I wish I lived closer, but those of you living in Encino, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Valley Village etc. Get your butts over there and let Abraham make you something to eat and drink.
This place is great. They are making really fun beers that go well with Mexican food. They have cool party nights at the Brewery in El Monte AND you can find/buy them locally at places like Whole Foods and on tap at local bars.
I recently had 3 of their beers at Guisados for a special beer and taco pairing: The Sancha, Brewnette and Fireman's Ale. They were ALL good but the Sancha was def. my favorite.
People are so clever and creative on the food scene. It's really really INSPIRING.
We are VERY excited to be having such a heavy hitter blogger on our show this Thurs. Josh is very polite, professional and his blog is fantastic! He has been blogging a long time and is a trendsetter rather than a follower. He seems to be well connected to all the brilliant food bloggers out there and from time to time they do GREAT taco posts, like this one on Carnitas! They are called the Taco Task Force! How clever is that?
I like how thoughtful and scientific these Taco Crawls are with scores down to 2 points after the decimal! I also like how the blog is all inclusive; all foods, all locations. There is an INCREDIBLE wealth of food information on this blog!
UPDATE. As of Feb 2012 the boys have found a permanent home at 702 N. Figueroa, right around the block from their humble beginnings. They are open for dinner AND lunch. Cash only.
Esdras on the left and Javi in the hat.
The smoke and flame from the mesquite grill.
I first had these tacos about a month ago at a special event that paired them with Ricky's Fish Tacos. They had started to appear on my radar and I was super curious. They first appeared on the Street Gourmet LA blog back in September 2010 in a great post about carne asada tacos.
Just a few days ago, they won the LA TACO sponsored Best Taco in Los Angeles. They beat 32 other purveyors including my favorite, who lost in the final round by 20 votes, Mariscos Jaliscos. The two guys that run the place are incredibly nice, dedicated and charming. They will be appearing with me on Taco Talk this Thurs. and we are very excited.
The Vampiro. Pure garlic heaven in a quesadilla
The Cachetada (slap) a fire-crisped tostada with chipotle aioli
Here is a link to the rest of our photos on Facebook. Below is a video we made of the special Baja Night. They really do capture both the spirit of street food and the quality of a gourmet food experience. Brava! & Congratulations!
Cilantro is a chain/franchise. It's all over the place and I guess it's not SO bad. This little gem is one of a kind, NOT part of the chain and sits on the corner of Virgil and Santa Monica Blvd. right next to the Urban Pet (a lovely pet store with a great selection of foods, a koi pond and vaccine clinics!)
Stopping at the pet store to pick up beyond expensive meds that my vet left me, I realized I needed a taco!
Usually the fish tacos are not the first thing I try because if freshness is an issue they are going to suck, but I had a feeling these would be good so I went for it. 1 shrimp and 1 fish. Both were crispy crunchy and so delicious. Under $2 bucks each. The girl was super nice and I liked the way they heated the tortillas with oil and not water.
The Pico de Gallo looked a little tired that day but they had a great red salsa in the back that was probably for the meats. They gave me some and it was awesome. I can't speak for their meats, but both the shrimp and the fish tacos were super tasty and cheap.
Pioneers of the LA Foodie Scene along with Mr. Puck and his Pizza.
These two have been testing the waters and succeeding since 1980 with their City Restaurant on La Brea.
Their first gourmet Mexi place was a jewel on Melrose (in the original City Cafe spot before they moved to La Brea) where I had my first runny fresh corn tamale and thought they were crazy but loved it. Really tiny. This was the first Border Grill until it expanded, moved to Santa Monica and essentially became a chain of sorts.
Maybe Julia Child should have played football? Oh the irony of her last name!
They also had one of the first LA based gourmet food shows. I always thought their chemistry was funny because they seemed really bitchy with each other the way sisters or best friends can be. Two Hot Tamales. Too clever. They appeared with Julia Child on her show too.
They hung on all through the excessive 80's, trendy 90's and into the new century with their Border Grill Restaurant and also Ciudad which I was sad to see was converted back to a Border Grill last year to mark the 25th Anniversary of Border Grillism. They also have a Vegas restaurant. Need I say more?
Susan Fenniger recently opened STREET on La Brea in keeping with small bite trends and global food influences. And now... NOW they have a taco truck!!!! Follow them on Twitter. Menu looks super fun! Way to go girlies.
I lived in Westchester for 4 years. It's right next to Inglewood. I have been to the Hollywood Park racetrack and once long ago I competed in a horse show at the Forum. I probably saw at least one Laker game there too. I've even visited the huge Daniel Freeman Hospital!
Recently I was drawn back to the 'wood by a lovely taco place, Fiesta Martin (see our prior post). I also noticed that the LA Times did an article about a great mariscos place, La Sirena Azul (not sure if it's the same as the truck, prob not). I've also had a few friends tell me that I MUST go to Mariscos Chente, also in Inglewood.
I love neighborhoods. Inglewood is its own city, just like Pasadena and Santa Monica. Here are some interesting facts....
Born in 1888 ( pop. 300)
Famous for a Cemetery in 1905
Incorporated in 1908
Famous for Earthquake damage in 1920
Famous for Chinchillas after 1923
Famous for being the City of Champions (Olympic Marathon of '32, Forum, Hollywood Park)