So yesterday, I was done a little early and wanted to head home. A friend of mine who happens to live in Orange County and work downtown was doing the same thing at the end of the trading day.
"I have an idea," I said. "You stop at Tacos Baja Ensenada and buy us each a fish taco and a shrimp taco, get some of the peppers. I'll stop at El Taco Nazo in La Habra and do the same thing. Meet me in the parking lot of the gas station off the 5 at Lakewood/Rosemead and we'll settle which is better for once and for all."
By some miracle we both arrived within about 30 seconds of each other.
There we were, two grown men in shirts and ties, leaned over the hood of a BMW X3, scarfing fish and shrimp tacos and peppers, sipping horchata.
Tacos Baja Ensenada -- the fish was dry and rattled around in the fried batter. The shrimp were better. If you've never had them, the batter is very thin and is obviously fried at very high heat, because it's almost like a thin skin. The flavour was generally good but it needed a lot more salsa to provide heat. The cabbage was shredded more finely and the crema was fresher. The peppers were "cool" today, meaning that they weren't so high on the capsaicin charts. The seasoning on the peppers is much tangier than ETN's.
El Taco Nazo -- their batter is more like a tempura, much crunchier than TBE's. The fish was, again, a bit dry -- perhaps because of the time between purchase and consumption. The shrimp were outstanding -- juicy and wonderful. The crema was a little "old" for my taste (a bit sour) but the salsa was much better. A hit of lime was all this taco needed. The peppers were hotter (capsaicin, not temperature, they were all stone cold by the time we ate them) and the lime powder on them was better, but not as tangy as TBE's.
Overall: fish tacos, no clear winner -- the dressing was better at ETN but the fish was better at TBE. Shrimp tacos -- ETN by a landslide, no comparison. Peppers -- ETN, but only because they were spicier.
In any case, both of these places, as well as Señor Baja, blow places like Wahoo's and Rubio's clear out of the water. You will do well to eat at either place, and trying to crown a winner is like trying to pick which sense you like better.
Tacos Baja Ensenada
5385 Whittier Blvd. (btw. Atlantic Blvd. and Goodrich St.)
East Los Angeles, CA 90022
El Taco Nazo
121 S. Beach Blvd. (just south of La Habra Blvd.)
La Habra, CA 90631