11.19.2012

El Borrego Viudo, Drive-In Taqueria in Mexico City


Mexico City is an AMAZING taco city.

The master of all Latin Food bloggers, Bill Esparza, has a BLOG full of info about eating there.

I tend to stick to the trendy areas of La Condesa and La Roma. Sort of like Santa Monica and Silverlake.

I was taken by a couple of awesome taco superfreaks to a DRIVE-IN taco spot at 2am.



It was crazy delicious and crazy fun. If you visit, you must put this place on your list.

10.20.2012

San Diego, Taco Lovers Unite and Drive

lamb head, lamb heads, roly poly lamb heads.

San Diego is it's own special taco mecca. Perhaps because of it's proximity to the border.

It's too big an area to tackle in one outing, but I did eat some fun tacos while vacationing in Coronado for a few days.

I finally made it to Aqui es Texcoco. Bill Esparza told me about it and it's been on my list for a while. The guys there are pretty hilarious and the tacos were declicious. They specialize in lamb barbacoa aka bbq lamb (borrego en espanol.) You can have it all sorts of ways. They even make a middle eastern pita bread taco with dill-yogurt sauce.



Def. worth a visit.

On the way there I totally got lost because another place opened, prob trying to ride Texcoco's coatails. The are called Asi es Jalisco. They have birria, but the goat variety. Once I realized I was lost, I felt bad not ordering anything so I got some rolled tacos. They were a little too oily and too chewy but I liked the filling. Who knows, maybe their birria is the bomb.

Coronado doesn't really have too many good choices for Mexican. American is the way to go there with gourmet hot dogs and several vintage diners. But I did stumble on some edible tacos at Clayton's Mexican To Go.



It's just a little window next to the diner of the same name, but they have tons of choices for tacos and burritos and I really enjoyed the shrimp and the ground beef. The tortillas had a nice consistency and never got soggy.

Top of my list for next time is a WAY trendy place called The Carnitas Snack Shack. It's just over the bridge from Coronado in North Park on University Blvd. DANG that place looks good but I just couldn't bust a move over there as I was stressed getting ready to drive down the Baja Peninsula again. But check out this pic from their website! Sheesh.

Taqueria Tepatitlan, Ventura CA


This place came to me from a Twitter tip. I tried several times to go, but always on a Monday and they are closed Monday. I don't know what is going on with that stretch of Ventura Ave. but it is a serious TACO MECCA. Taqueria Cuernavaca is there and a really cool taco truck at night that parks in front of Sam's Market and a few others you can't miss driving down the street.


FINALLY I got there on the right day and OMMFG. SO GREAT. First of all the owner/manager - not sure who he was exactly - but he took such good care of me. He thought of things I needed that I didn't even know I needed.

2nd of all, old school crispy tacos left me wanting more and more and more. My friend had the burrito - loved it. I went back with two authenticos and they are tough critics. They loved it.


The first time I went I ate in the cozy booth room. I didn't even realize they had a bar next door. Amazing beer selection on tap. Everything is just so dang good there.

On the 2nd night they had a special salsa that was like Pico de Gallo with avocado added. FANTASTIC. I'm told it's a variation on "flag salsa" or Salsa Bandera. Don't really care what the heck it's called, just give me more.

You gotta go. Just don't go on Monday cuz they're closed. It's a little hard to see because their windows are blacked out, but they do have a sign and are right across the street from Ortiz Taco
Time.


(lips smacking at the memory)

ANDALE!

Taqueria Tepatitlan
362 N. Ventura Ave.
Ventura, CA 93001

Taco Roundup #5 - Tacos in Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and Inglewood!


It's been a busy month for the Maven. I ate a lot of tacos. I pretty much eat one every day as you know. Of all the places I ate, only one really deserves it's own post (Tepatitlan) but these are worthy spots so if you are nearby, check 'em out!

SANTA ROSA - my friend Dana Reinhardt is a YA Author. I went with her to a speaking event and lo and behold it was across the street from a place I wanted to try last time I passed through the area. LA ROSA TEQUILERIA & GRILL is supafun.

They do have an increible selection of tequila and a damn good crispy taco which they busted out for me at 10:55 AM as they were opening even though it's a dinner menu item ONLY. Super crunchy and I liked the wavy shell. Nice eclectic decor.  They do lots of tequila pairing events. Fun peeps.

Shredded Beef Crispy Taco - Avail at Dinner Only

SANTA BARBARA - I convinced my taco pal Chris to try SU CASA which is around the block from her house. She had driven by it a bazillion times but out of habit always headed for EL ZARAPE, which is a great down and dirty quickie place.

The service here was great. They had a nice patio, good beer selection and generous portions. My tacos were good enough and the salsa was especially good. She has been back a few times since so that's a good sign!

Crispy Pastor and Soft Shrimp Tacos

INGLEWOOD - Doing an errand with a friend, I had about 15 min. to kill. Time for a Taco! I don't know why I was drawn to this place, but I really liked it. They were sweet, it was clean and they make their crispy tacos on the grill which I really like. Cheap, cheap, cheap and lots of Mexican families chowing down. 

MI ZACATECAS was the one I ate at, but there is another place down the street called just Zacatecas that get's a better Yelp review. Next time!

Griddle Crispy Tacos. Ground beef and Pastor.

CHULA VISTA - I had to drive down to San Diego to drop off some stuff that someone is driving down to Baja for me. Big stuff that doesn't fit in my car. We start talking about tacos and she tells me I  MUST go to this fish taco truck. So I do.

No longer in the location that YELP lists in the link, you get off at Main St., head N. and it's right on the corner at Main and Industrial in a parking lot. VERY fresh, lots of fans. The grilled shrimp was great and tons of mariscos too. Maybe a few too many tomatoes on top. The official name is MARISCOS Y TACOS EL KIKI.

Battered fish and grilled shrimp tacos

OJAI - Stick to where the Mexicans eat. That's the way to find good food in Ojai. Street tacos and mercados. Otherwise, it's all pretty mediocre there. I've been meaning to hit up this Panaderia for a year. But the smell of sweet stuff usually turns me away.

It's actually called DIAZ'S BAKERY though I never saw the sign. Last week I busted my move and these quickie cheapie tacos were GREAT. Tender, clean meat and some kick arse salsa. YUM YUM. They are right next to the healthfood market on Matillja. You can't miss 'em. Follow the donut smell.

Carnitas and Asada tacos with spicy salsa.

So as you can see, I've been all over but still managed to faithfully document my eats for your reading and eating pleasure.

PROVECHO.

9.17.2012

Fonda Comida Mexicana, Brooklyn NYC

NY York Foodie, Sasha Grand in front of Fonda Restaurant

I started the morning with an email from a friend with this LINK about food in Mexico City. I see that this wonderful restaurant I JUST ate at in Brooklyn, is featured.

The restaurant is located in Park Slope. I LUFF Park Slope. My best friend from college has been living there for the past 15 years and for whatever reason, they have GREAT Mexican food. People always joke about how New York City is really lagging in the taco department. I am here to tell you they are definitely improving!


A 12 year old foodie named Sasha told me that Fonda was 'beyond awesome.' He started reciting his favorites on the menu so fast I was like, "Wait... wait... Slow down." Better yet, let's just go there. So off I went with my soon to be teenage escort.


He started with a Guava soda. I had a Guava Margarita. Fantastic! We ordered the "Taquitos" appetizer of pastor with pina. I was a little confused by the moniker as to me a taquito is a rolled, deep fried taco. But here it actually means 'little taco.'

They were delicious. They come in threes. Somehow we managed to save one for his Dad.

Pastor with Pineapple 3 Taco Appetizer

Carne Asada w/ green beans + a sweet corn mushroom sauce

The grilled steak, carne asada offering is one of Sasha's favorites. I can see why. It was RIDICULOUS. Tender, juicy, flavorful, with green beans and mushrooms on top. Totally ADDICTIVE. Give me MORE. Send it Overnight Express! Andale!

We also got an order of the Enchilada Suizas. A classic I have been eating at La Serenata de Garabaldi for over 20 years. How was it? Delicious.


Chips and Guacamole? Delicious. The corn tortillas? Delicious. The service? Perfect. The decor? Very charming. The rice and beans? YUM.

The have an incredible cook book called Truly Mexican and a 2nd restaurant in Manhattan.

Definitely going back on my next visit.

The moral of the story? Listen to 12 year old foodies! Especially ones that are brave enough to order chicken feet at Chinese restaurants.

:)

www.fondarestaurant.com
434 7th Avenue btw 14th & 15th
Brooklyn, NY 11215

9.11.2012

Brooklyn Tacos and Tacombi!



I am here in the Big Apple which I may have to start calling the big taco due to the fact that taco trucks and authentic Mexican eateries are popping up all over the place!

I had heard that Brooklyn was a good spot for some authenticity. I cross referenced blogs, Yelp and my own Taco Radar and hopped on the L train from midtown Manhattan to explore Williamsburg.

I shot a lot of video footage which was hard to edit. See the Brooklyn Taco Crawl video at the end of the post.

Here is a recap of where I stopped.

SANTOS ANNE

Churros with Nutella and Orange Crema at  Santos Anne

The lovliest people. I like their creation myth of a French woman and a Mexican man gettin' down and coming up with stuff like Brie & Lardon tacos and an out of this world Merguez Lamb Sausage taco. They have a beautiful and peaceful patio, a full bar of magical margaritas and Bocce Ball!!!!

EL DIABLO TACO TRUCK

Delicious authentic tacos and cheeky taqueros!

Just down the street on Union, the devil lies hidden in a courtyard behind the Union Pool bar. These guys win the Taco Truck Art award and their Chorizo taco was as good as anything I've had in LA. They are boastful, cheeky and authentic. There patio is also awesome and you can never lose with a combo of good booze and tacos.

MESA COYOACAN

Grilled Tilapia tacos with cabbage etc.

I really wanted to like this place. I love Coyocan, the small town in Mexico City where Frida Khalo is from and actual Coyotes abounded at one time. They are definitely trendy. They have a Mixologist doing his muddle thing, but they were very crabby about me taking any photos and their fish taco had a soggy tortilla. It was well seasoned and perfectly grilled Tilapia, with what tasted like sauerkraut on it, but the floppy corn tortillas were a no-go and so was their attitude!

VILLA PANCHO

Wall art at Villa Pancho

I left via the G train and attempted to head to Park Slope (home of Fonda) but Saturday was Train Detour Day for both the F and the G and I was unceremoniously dumped of on Bedford having no idea where I was and no patience for the various special shuttles and buses while suffocating on the hot subway platform.

The first two taxis I hailed refused to take me to Park Slope (about a $12 ride away I later learned) and so I was about to start whining LA Style on an unfamiliar NYC street corner when I noticed a taco place. SAVED. A taco, as you well know, fixes EVERYTHING.

This place has only been open about 5 months but already has big fans for their burritos and other comforting home cooking. I had a Barbacoa taco that was freshy fresh. I loved their decor and the owner was very friendly. He says the name came from a mistake that the guy making his sign made. It was supposed to be Pancho Villa! Def. worth a visit.

TACOMBI

People gettin' down with their tacos.

I've been following these taco innovators and their Nolita shennanigans for over a year now, but I finally got to try it.

After a day of taco chasing and a Tornado in Brooklyn???? I made my way to Soho on the R train which took FOREVER. Thankfully, all the hype is true. They ROCK and they rock HARD. Delicious tacos, an efficient system to handle the madness and the wait and a top notch Michelada. Now all I need is a Tee-Shirt!

Good work NYC. You are making some excellent inroads on the path to Taco Wisdom.

9.03.2012

Diablo Taco, Silverlake

 
While I was in Mexico, I got several emails about this new taco spot. Quickly checked out the menu and decided to go when I got back.

Diablo is a gourmet taco fusion place with heart. They are friendly not fussy. They are respectful of the almighty taco, but not afraid to be cheeky with items such as Beef Cheek tacos and Dodger Dog tacos.

The owner/manager Summer Stearns hosted me with charm, skill and generosity. The head taco chef and co-owner Casey Wiele was wonderful as well.



Most importantly, the tacos were friggin' delicious. Of course my fav was the Bison chile with yellow cheese and banana peppers. SO TASTY. I had never had Bison before and I'm not so gamey in general but this taco is a keeper.

Other delicious and innovative tacos include the Pok Chuk (marinated pork, radishes and slaw) Maple Fried Chicken, Pork Belly with caramelized bananas and peanuts, and a fabulous veggie taco with tempura-battered Woodhouse Mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and a garlic aioli made from soy.

Delicious Popsicles for Dessert!
 
I especially loved their taco shells which were very yellow, thin, grilled and never broke once. I tasted about 10 different varieties. The chef has them made at a local factory but he supplies all the ingredients. You can see him talking about it in the above video.

They also do something fun called Skins. Right now you have a choice between Kurabuta chicharron, fried chicken skins and potato skins. They come with a choice of excellent sauces.

Add to this at least 3 gourmet daily salads and a fantastic beer selection plus tart Sangria and you can not go wrong.

The Amazing Michelada
 
Dessert is delicious cookies and various homemade Paletas or Popsicles. The best Popsicle of all is the tomato, chili, Worcestershire, spicy one that can be found in their amazing Michelada. A tall chilled glass, gourmet grey salt on the rim and a floating Popsicle all add up to one of the best Mexican beer cocktails I have had ANYWHERE.

Yay Diablo! Welcome to Tacolandia.

9.01.2012

Valle de Guadalupe Wine Country in Ensenada!



Made a brief stop through the Valle of Guadalupe on my way up from the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. 1000 miles each way but so much beauty and great food.

It was super fun. Lots of wonderful places to relax, drink, eat and be very very merry. It's really only a little over an hour S. of Tijuana. Worth it! I promise.

Salud!

8.27.2012

Bizarra Capital, Whittier & Ricardo Diaz

Nopales Salad

Chef Ricardo Diaz is one of my favorite taco peeps. Not only is he a great cook, chef, etc., he is humble and seems very interested in doing affordable food for the people.

All 4 of his LA Mexi Food places are affordable and fresh.

For my birthday in June, I talked some friends into driving East for a delicious night of fun. Ricardo took over an old Sizzler and has turned it into a house of food, fun and Tequila.

Fabulously fresh Ceviche

Everyone was very impressed with the food. The service was great too.

Also in June, I made of point of finally getting to Cook's Tortas. I think they only have one taco, but the tortas are so amazing it takes you about 20 min. just to figure out which one to have.

Cook's Torta's

Check out our video of the night and also do yourself a favor and visit all of his restaurants! Whatever he is up to, Ricardo is a man of the TACO. ox



TACOTECA

COLONIA TACOS

COOK'S TORTAS

BIZARRA CAPITAL

8.26.2012

Bäco Mercat and Jose Centeno. A Baco IS a Taco.


I am a huge fan of the Lazy Ox in Dowtown, Los Angeles. When I read an article about a sandwich that the chef had invented at his new restaurant, I had to go.

Chef Joseph Centeno is a genius in my book. And yeah, he's handsome too!

The 'Baco' is a cross between a Pita and a Taco. Centeno makes his own pita-style bread, lays it flat, fills the middle with impossibly fantastic ingredients: pork belly, fava beans, oxtail, meatballs and then folds it in half like a taco.

GENIUS I tells ya.


The menu is filled with other fabulous items such as beet/burrata salad with grapefruit, grilled okra, flatbread pizza and bazole soup (served hot or cold) which is sort of like Pho. Delicious.

The bar doles out specialty cocktails made from their own fruit/vinegar/sugar concoctions such as Persimmon, Blood Orange and Chile Lime. They also have an excellent and affordable beer and wine selection.

The dessert menu includes an amazing open-face cannoli and a semifreddo tiramisu-like bowl of chocolate-dusted heaven.

My favorite drink was the Nacho Vidal (tequila, campari and chile-lime infusion.) They named it after a porn star (go on, google him) who happened to be sitting at the bar the night they invented it.

Best of all, the service is supreme. Some of the nicest young adults in town labor to make your experience memorable and likely to be repeated. We love you Travis!

On Tuesday nights they currently have a 'spaghetti and meatball' night. After eating there on a Saturday, I rushed back on Tuesday and I was not disappointed. Perfectly cooked spaghetti with oval shaped balls of meat and a tangy but not too sweet tomato sauce. Comes with a Ceasar Salad and dessert.

Fabulous! Thank you Joseph. Keep up the good work.

PS. Mercat means 'market' in Catalonia. Baco means several things (a lunar crater, the Celtic God of the Boar, 'ay man' in Spanish) but for this use, I believe it may just be made up.

Don't worry about how to spell it or pronounce it (rhymes with taco?) Just go eat one.

Baco Mercat
408 S. Main St.
Los Angeles
www.bacomercat.com

7.21.2012

Santa Rosalia and Baja Tacos for the Summer

Spending the summer down in Baja Sur, 1000 miles S. of Tijuana.

I made the usual drive, but took my time and stopped for lots of tacos.

I especially loved Santa Rosalia which is a tiny mining town I always burn through because from the hwy it doesn't look very interesting.

Turns out 11k people live there, it was settled by the French and they have great tacos!

Here are a few fun food highlights.

More tacos to come!

Mushroom appetizer at Al Forno, new fav place in La Paz

Yummy Michelada at the Lobster House in La Paz

Shrimp tacos next to the Real Hotel in Santa Rosalia

Pulpo in the Walmart supermarket in La Paz

6.26.2012

Melody's Mexican Kitchen, Reseda CA


The Taco Maven goes to Melody's Mexican Kitchen (AKA how some stoners sent me here and I ate two crispy tacos in less than 2 seconds.)

Victory and Vanowen? Isn't that in the "Parallel Universe?" This is what I have called the West Valley since Highschool. I think my ex-husband lives somewhere near this place. He calls his neighborhood "Rencino."

Really it was maybe 5 miles from my new temp stomping grounds in (yawn) Sherman Oaks. I went straight down Burbank, turned right on Victory and there it was.


Adorable spot. Lots of "home cookin'" and nice peeps. I went straight for the crispy chicken taco as instructed. Seeing they also had a crispy potato taco, I got one of those too. I got flan for a friend and a chile relleno burrito to bring to a dinner as an appetizer.


REALLY GOOD FOOD. People in the area know about this place. There is a Gelson's less than a mile from here, so clearly this is a neighborhood with a few pennies. My tacos cost $2.20. The salsa bar was GREAT. Lots of toasty roasty options.


It's actually a fun place to sit and stay. Cozy and colorful inside. I of course ate in the car and set a new record for INHALATION.

The same family owns SEVERAL restaurants including Las Fuentes down the street.

Is this any way to expect to wear a bikini? Probably not. But DANG those tacos were goooooooooood and had me instantly singing the praises of Melody.

Yes! They have Tacos in San Francisco


Land of the Burrito. True. But I have no problem hunting down tacos when I am there. Sometimes the taco finds are UNEXPECTED. But so far, everything I have tried had merit.

It was getting to the point where my friend's kids were starting to groan every time we went out. "Mooooooooom. Do we have to have tacos AGAIN?" Of course they didn't.

This is why we wound up in a food court at a mall where they ate pizza and I ate a great crispy chicken tinga style taco at Andale. I think there is an accent on the A. I don't do written accents, only spoken ones. They are a chain with 3 SFO Airport stations in addition to the Westfield Mall.

Crispy Chicken Taco at Andale

The people were so nice there. Really sweet and the taco was delish. I especially liked the chicken meat which was saucy but not sloppy and very tender. I'm still not sure how they got the corn taco shell to look like a wanton. Super hot oil? But the crunch was nice.

Of course the tots immediately threw aside their pizza for a bite of my taco!

The next day we went to North Beach, which is an Italian neighborhood. They are known for their pizza not their tacos. "Really kids, pizza AGAIN?" I instead sought out this really cute place called Don Pisto's. They get great YELP, 4.5 stars with over 600 reviews.

A 'pisto' is an alcoholic drink. The place is tiny but stylish and totally hidden. No sign. Why no sign? Don't know, but it's no wonder my friend had never accidentally come across it in her travels.

Don Pisto Shrimp Taco

Their lunch menu is limited, but the pastor and shrimp taocs we had were SOLID. They also make drinks with agave wine, including a fun shot called "Baby, don't be like that" or something cheeky I can't remember. It's made with pineapple juice and jalapeno. It could have been spicier, but it was tasty.

Tacos run around $10 for two. NOT a Mission street gritty taco joint. It's more gourmet and upscale, but I think it's worth a try.

Sonora style taco on a flour tortilla. HUGE and $9

After lunch we walked around and came across Nico's Tacos. Wow, this Italian neighborhood is full of Mexican food! But more like fusion Mexican really. This adorable spot features a Chicken' n Waffle Taco. Why has no one tried this in LA?

Do I need to call Roscoe's Chicken 'n Waffle right now? I think I do. There was NO WAY I could try one of these right after lunch, but next time they will be my first stop because all of their tacos looked really good.


Viva el taco! And viva San Fran.