Conveniently located on Main St. in the Target shopping center, La Zamorana was the perfect spot for a quick cheap dinner after we spent too much $ at Target. I've eaten here twice before (see link to initial report w/ contact info), but only for take out. The second time I got a pambazo sparked by Nathan's tutelage on what a pambazo is. Well, their version seemed like a variation on a torta but not as juicy and deliciously sloppy as I imagined. It was fine but not exciting.
Y had never been so I led him over to get him indoctrinated. He looked a bit scared when the place was completely empty around 7pm. It's actually a good-sized space w/ high ceilings and plenty of tables (not just a hole in the wall), so the deserted feeling was even more pronounced. While that normally wouldn't be a good sign, I told him to trust me.
#3 torta special w/ choice of meat (we chose azada), french fries and soda for $5.99
2 tacos: birria and chorizo ($1.69ea)
That w/ a Jarritos soda came to about $11. We were struck at how much cheaper it is than Tacos Moreno in Santa Cruz since our meals there w/o drinks always cost a little more. Zamorana also gives you a complimentary basketful of chips and a loose salsa to start. Unfortunately, the thin chips are always somewhat stale but the salsa is usually good. See photos of our food below.
Just b/c it's cheaper doesn't mean it's a good value if the food doesn't deliver. In this case, it very much did. In particular, the tacos were outstanding. I sheepishly confess that the birria remains a bit of a mystery meat to me. I thought it was supposed to be goat, but Y insisted that it tasted more like beef. I've never had goat before, so I have no basis for comparison. The girl working the counter couldn't answer any of our questions about the food. Some of it may have been a language barrier, but she seemed fairly fluent in English and more lacking in food knowledge and helpfulness.
Whatever it was, it was the most delicious, slow-cooked meat that was drenched in juices and spices (but not hot). The chorizo was delicious as well...crispy edges w/ a smoky sour tinge and no unpleasant chewiness. The avocado slivers were wonderfully ripe and buttery, quite good quality by taqueria standards. The garnishes were minimal but essential and balanced; however, a few radish slices would have been nice.
These tacos blew away the ones from Moreno IMO. I've never gotten into the ones from Moreno (I'm devoted to the carnitas burrito supreme), and having these to compare, I realize it's b/c Moreno overloads theirs w/ pinto beans and sliced cabbage. (Ok Nathan, now I know what you mean.) I like mainly meat w/ a few garnishes. Zamorana also has a wider meat selection. Cueritos, anyone?
The torta was good (love the pickled jalapenos!), but the meat was a bit dry and not that flavorful. Wouldn't order that exact kind again. The fries were fried very well and generously portioned, but reminded me of the factory made fries that you get from Carl's Jr. that don't have much real potato goodness.
I can't wait to return for more tacos. Also want to try their chilaquiles, cubano torta, and other meats. They do have mariscos on the menu, but I don't know if I really trust it since the turnover seems rather low. It never got crowded, but just a few people stopping in for take-out. Y and I couldn't understand why it wasn't more crowded since it's in such a prime location and has to be better than the Del Taco in the same center. The only thing we could think of was the service, which has been pretty clueless and dismissive on all 3 occasions that I've been, but that won't keep me away. Anyone else been?