Hello DTLA! Back in town for taco hoppin' and it's really nice (although daunting) to see all the progress and hipster-izing of the previously forlorn DTLA continuing on at freight train speed.
I have had the privilege to work in the Fashion District not 1, but 3 times between 2000 and 2012.
The changes since I have been living in Mexico the last 4 years are impressive. The best part might be all the fine food establishments lining up in re-vamped vintage buildings. It feels like LA finally has some history besides entertainment.
Some of my favorite DTLA restaurants have been anything by Josef Centeno, Bottega Louie, Church and State and now Little Sister. In fact, Downtown LA is reminding me of San Francisco more and more each day and here comes a giant Bloomingdale's sized Whole Foods to brighten things up.
I was very excited on Wednesday, to park 3 blocks away and pick my steps through rubble and construction barriers to be almost first in line to try the new Chicas Tacos.
A fabulous neon sign, a very colorful 50's diner feel and a very friendly staff welcomed me. Lots of eaters there around 2pm, but not the insanity of a line out the door (which might be coming soon.) They plan to open evenings mid-June and now that summer weather is here, the al fresco adorable picnic patio will be much appreciated.
How were the tacos? They were good! Dang good. I especially loved the thin but chewy, fresh tortillas and all the beautifully cut veggies that were part of each taco. I couldn't see eating more than three as these are normal sized tacos and not street silver dollars meant to be inhaled by the half dozen.
|Real Mexican Glass Bottled Coke|
Let me start with the price, because I can see that many taco lovers will be all "What? Five Dollars? What?" But parking at the meter was $2 for under an hour. If you park in a lot across the street it will run you $6. Prices are up! Especially in LA but the quality and the creativity make this taco worth it.
BTW at my very guilty pleasure, low-brow, comfort food dive, greasy crispy chicken taco place (Hello Fiesta Grande in S. Pasadena) the a la carte taco is $4.50 and it's OLD school.
So the tacos definitely get the Taco Maven's stamp of approval... all except the fish taco. While I love the idea of a caesar salad stuffed in there, word on the street is that the fish for the taco is tilapia and most likely farmed tilapia because fresh tilapia is harder to get.
I hope the kitchen can correct me on this since 'freshness" and "wild caught" are big words on their website. Fish is such a dangerous things these days... with polluted waters and bad farming practices which result in weird bi-products like DDT in your fish. Now that's the real "What?????" So. I personally stick to shrimp tacos as I find the higher quality is easier to procure... but I imagine that would be a $6 taco if Chicas were to offer one.
|Veggie Taco - Full of Flavuh and Veggie Goodness|
Of the 3 I tried... The steak, the chicken and the veggie, the veggie was the one bursting with flavor. It was friggin' delicious. I also loved the crispy potatoes in the steak. The actual quality and texture of the meat wasn't anywhere near close to Mexicali Taco but then it probably wasn't grilled over a bbq fire either. The overall enjoyment of the beef taco was very tasty and stimulating. Their hot salsa was also terrific. The pork taco included chicarron so what's not to like?
I also hear tale of something called "Mama's Style" a la the In-n-Out secret menu. I was hoping it was a crispy taco but to the best of my understanding, it's 4 stacked flat tacos of your choice with extra cheese between them and eaten like lasagna perhaps. Sounds tempting as a dinnertime variation.
Usually, I avoid chicken tacos out of boredom, unless it's a creeeespie, but again, the combination of elements totally worked! The chicken taco had a nice Mediterranean salad on top and even a few garbanzo beans. The chicken was reddish with flavorful seasoning.
|Mediterranean Chicken Taco|
They also have a delicious-looking collection of creative fruit waters. No jamaica or horchata here. Instead they offer Lavender-Cantaloupe water along with Cucumber-Mint and Watermelon-Cinnamon. I'd like to try to confirm the sweetness level because normally I don't like to waste my calories on liquid sugar! More chips please.
How I wish Chicas Tacos had existed when I was slogging away in the clothing biz. I could have walked right over for a snack, which most people seem to be doing. I saw a lot of cute to-go boxes stacking up for people presumably eating in their offices. The classic pink bakery box with tacos nestled within and the words "Until Tomorrow" stamped on the side in Spanish, was cheerful indeed.
Hasta pronto Chicas y buena suerte!
728 S. Olive St. Between 7th & 8th Street DTLA
Open for Lunch 11-3