This is an odd little sit-down place near the corner of Fruitvale and Foothill – the décor is nearly nonexistent, the door’s always wide open, propped open by a tamale cart, so I’m nearly as cold as if I were waiting outside a taco truck. Music can be unbearably loud, depending on who’s controlling the jukebox. And yet, I keep coming back – even odder, I keep coming back for things I don’t ordinarily order.
I’m normally a cabeza/lengua/carnitas taco girl. I haven’t had the carnitas here – mostly because the space on the menu where I assume carnitas are supposed to be has been whited out (when I asked why after dinner last night, the waitress exclaimed, oh, we have carnitas! So I haven’t had a chance to try them yet.) The lengua and cabeza are unremarkable, and the green salsa that accompanies the two isn’t picante enough to really add much interest.
What I do love:
Tacos carne asada – I’m not sure why I usually don’t order carne asada – maybe I had a few boring ones in the past and gave up on them. This asada has bits of beef that are fried hard, so that they hit a magical texture between jerky and bacon. Delicious.
Tacos campechano – a combination of chorizo and the above magic asada. On good days, there's an extra sprinkling of crispy bits on top, so good I'll pick the fallen bits off the plate with my fingers. I don’t remember seeing campechano elsewhere, or maybe I just never noticed before.
Tacos dorado de barbacoa – I’m quite certain that this one isn’t available at the trucks. The tortillas are a bit larger than those for the regular tacos, and they’re fried so that the outer layer is crisp, and the inner stays tender. The barbacoa is velvety soft, a lovely contrast to the bi-textured tortillas.
Regular burrito al pastor – each individual component is carefully cooked and seasoned – the rice is fluffy and firm, the beans tender and flavorful (but not mushy), the al pastor savory with the stain of chorizo fat. Because each component is so good, I prefer the regular over the super here – with the super, all the extra components drowned out the simple, perfect execution that makes this burrito so remarkable.
Also good – chilaquiles, a generous pile of egg and fried tortilla soaked in spicy red sauce.
When we left last night, we heard the telltale slap-slap-slap of fresh pupusas being formed – turns out, they make pupusas too. I’ll have to try those soon.
Prices are on par with the trucks ($1.25/taco, except the dorado, which is $1.75)