Another inescapable excuse to go to Culver City, this time to pick up some art, and naturally I timed it for Lunch. I was thinking of a return to Dijonnaise, and then remembered Dommy and Patrick's going on about this taqueria on National, so I went looking for it. Easier to find than to get to if you're headed north, but one deeply illegal U-turn later I was in their fenced-in parking lot. Very tidy little place with lots of tables outside, very friendly owner taking orders, and it smelled damn good too. After scanning the way-too-many choices I wimped out and ordered the Combinación Parillada, a mixed grill of carne asada, shrimp, chicken, mushrooms, onions, sweet peppers and cheese, which comes with three handmade corn or flour tortillas and rice, guac on lettuce, and either black or pinto beans. I chose corn and pinto, and a medium jamaica, which came to twelve bucks and change.
The owner and I chatted of foodish things as I watched the cook prepare a huarache and an egg dish for the only other customers, a woman and her little girl, as well as the various ingredients for my order, until those all got assembled on a sizzling-hot serving skillet and laid on my tray, along with a separate plate with my rice, beans and guacamole, a foil wrap of freshly-heated tortillas, and real live stainless-steel knife and fork. I took that and my drink out to a half-sunny half-shady table on the patio and dug in. The flavors were clear and fresh but needed some amplification, so I went to the goodies bar and got a little tub of salsa verde and a wedge of lime and dressed my dish with these. The salsa was about twenty degrees hotter than I'd expected, but very good and fresh-tasting with a nice tang. As is always the case with these things the meats were all very well-done, but with such nice roasty flavors as these all I cared about was that I could chew'em, which I did. The cheese seemed to be something like a whole-milk mozzarella, just a handful of fresh shreds spread over the top at the last minute, and gave me some good strings to wrap on my fork. The tortillas were thick and corny, the beans smooth and rich (without lard...how'd they do that?), the rice tender and fluffy with kernels of sweet corn and some peas scattered through it. The guac was a treat, too, full-flavored and just smooth enough. The jamaica was a little disappointing, surprising since it's supposed to be homebrewed, but then the very faint dank undertone was something I've tasted in brewed iced tea, as well.
This was probably too much food for lunch, but it was all good and pretty healthy, and despite being the most expensive thing on the menu a genuine bargain. Next time, and you damn betcha there will be a next time, I think I'll do a taco medley or something equally exploratory. This menu is huge, so I've got a lot of ground to cover! Oh, and the menu says Taco Nights Friday and Saturday, 7 pm until midnight - tacos $1.00.
Sabor A Mexico
8940 National Blvd. (at the 10), Culver City