Salazar, Frogtown, Los Angeles

Salazar! So glad I was in town to be part of the first wave of people to enjoy taquero Esdras Ochoa's and Billy Silverman's new grill 'n picnic spot at the outer corner of Silverlake.

At first I had to Google the word, just to see if it officially meant anything. I do speak the muy excelente taco Spanglish. Turns out it was the name of the former owner of the space. A garage don't cha know, for many years. My imagination started to run and I pictured a chop shop straight outta Fast and Furious.

Whatever it was, it is now a premium place to enjoy fabulous cocktails and delicious tacos 6 nights a week (closed Mon.) and one glorious day of lunch with your friends, family, and pets on Sunday from 12-5.

As a testimony to its early popularity, the place was already filled to the brim at 12:09 on a Sunday. I thought they handled the "Holy Lunch Rush, Batman" very well. They acknowledged they were backed up, they apologized, brought more chips etc. It was a beautiful day. No problem.

To my eye, team Salazar is doing everything right. Really fun and friendly staff and management. Creative cocktails abounding; Apricot Sour Beer anyone? How about an Horchata cocktail? OH YEAH. The tacos? As to be expected from half of the team behind Mexicali Taco & Co., they were superb.

I was especially impressed by the pastor taco. Yes, it had the right amount of pineapple. Yes, it was served on an AMAZINGLY FRESH, yet soft, yet chewy, yet thin and translucent, yet no breaky, flour tortilla. OMG. Taco perfection. Salsa? Check; Smokey, plus salt and a roasted tad of sweetness. Divine. I did slurp directly from the salsa cup. I admit it.

Plenty of stuff for vegetarians to eat. A nice taco with grilled onions, potatoes, and spinach.  3 kinds of beans, one of them sans animal. A very filling whipped potato and sausage side order (easy to leave the sausage off.) An heirloom tomato salad which was so delicious it didn't even need the heirloom tomatoes! (A wonderful mix of baby cress, grilled fresh corn, paper thin sliced radishes, requeson cheese and red onion.) For those days when the tomatoes may not be cooperating with perfect sweet ripeness, I say, grill 'em!

     Whipped Potatoes with Red and Green Chorizo

    Heirloom Tomato Salad

In the kitchen, which you can see into from the patio, is the kind of BBQ that Esdras and Javier used to pull out of their pickup truck during the early days of Mexicali Taco in a parking lot in DTLA.

Now chef Esdras is sporting a nice white coat and looking very handsome, I must say (cough, cough) as he ably manages the kitchen in pursuit of the kind of quality and creativity we have become accustomed to when his name is on the taco marquee.

    Veggie Taco. Folded by me. Served flat.

    Esdras Ochoa cooking up a taco storm.

The overall dining experience was just so pleasant. I loved the meat-laden wooden planks. I loved all the tin camping gear (plates, pots of beans, salsa cups etc.) Even the check comes clipped to a mini piece of wood. Seats are comfortable. Shade is ample (sure they could use a few more umbrellas - especially for the hostess!) but that is an easy fix.

On a second pass at Googling the word Salazar, I see that it has Basque origins meaning 'old hall.' This fits! You will also be saying the word "czar" every time you speak the name out loud. Need I explain? A great outdoor gathering place in a cactus garden, peppered with the creative souls of Los Angeles, good friends, and tacos. Yum.

Buen provecho!
2940 Fletcher Drive, LA 90065
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