Inspired by the feverent Pasadita discussion in recent days, myself and a few others headed off this afternoon to do a sampling. In my opinion, detailed below, only one of the three Pasaditas offers the hungry chowhound much, and the ringer, Taqueria Laura was as good if not better. Note, my nomeclature of the Pasaditas may differ, but I am using their geographic relationship to Ashland and Division, going south.
#1 East side of Ashland
The smallest of the three, with a grill and like five stools. Middle in the range of prices. Steaks cooked and cut per order, providing a fresh and supremely off the grill flavor. One bite was slightly ruined by a piece of gristle, but I suppose over the course of a few taco's this balances out. They chop their onions large. As someone who does not love raw onions, I did not like this. One salsa, green, with a citrus undertone and other fruit from the tomatillas, but not too much heat. Barbacoa was rich but mild, but not in a bad way. Tongue was rich and not so mild, another winner. Really nice, creamy orchata. A satisfying if very small stand.
#2 West side of Ashland, north
Things started going downhill. Slightly larger location, with tables in the back, but smelled intensely of wet mop and worse. Same green salsa as across the street, but the steak did not taste nearly as intense of the grill, perhaps a problem as timing. Later, when I walked pass them, they had the grill fired way up, and the meat smelled better. I almost grabbed another taco to try. The barbacoa and lengua were both good, showing that maybe we all focus on the wrong filling. Orchata tasted one notch better than poison.
#3 West side of Ashland, south - The bigger location
This is the La Pasadita "resturant. Also smelled really bad. As the exiled one and myself noted, having no off aromas is kind of criterion one in the restaruant review handbook. This Pasadita has a waitress and provide chips and salsa. They also offer a bit more on the menu including more taco fillings lke lomo and chicken as well as non-taco offerings. This is the one with the salsa negra. Yet, the salsa negra, the fantastic looking black salsa could not save this place. In fact, this salsa was not even that good. For all its shades of black, with seeds and other things, it barely possessed a flavor. The green salsa was thin as well, and someone considered it oily. We really tasted the commercial spice here mentioned by Erik M--boy did he call that one! We detected a strong dose of MSG on the meat. In addition, the steak produced a pool of grease on my tortilla. Having chicken and lomo as choices did not improve things, the lomo tasted even more of that commercial adobo powder. At least the orchata was not quite as poor.
Carniceria and Taqueria Laura - 1051 Ashland
Chingales tacos, which we learned is not such a polite way to name your taco's. We needed something to wash away the taste of the last Pasadita, and this did a good job. The meat is not grilled to order, leaving it the bane of Gwiv, moist, but it was still pretty good. A red salsa made from lots of garlic and dry peppers, plus limes served with the tacos, added a lot of flavor. It might not have been better steak than the first Pasadita, but maybe a better all around experience. Great meat department with entire carcasses of pork delivered on Tuesdays. If you want your meat fresh and cut to order, come on Tuesday.