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Restaurants & Bars 6

[SAC] Weekend Visit -- Taquerias and Roma's

Nick | Oct 7, 200301:43 AM

Well, made my trip. Thanks for the help. Got to go to several taquerias plus Roma's.

Roma's was tasty pizza. I don't think it's fabulous or great or especially good, but it's good. Actually, it reminded me of a pizza place that I went to growing up in Eugene, OR. More than reminded me, it was like one of those flavors that arises vivid memories from deep within you. The place in Eugene was called Pietro's. If anyone had ever been there and then gone to Roma's, I think they'd have a similar experience. I got the pizza for my brothers, a pepperoni. They've probably eaten more Chowhound recommended pizza than me because that seems to be all they ever want to eat. Anyway, they liked it. Nice crispy crust, a bit of a bright sauce, and a decent pepperoni. Good stuff.

However, I much more enjoyed my taqueria travels. I started by going to La Favorita #2 on the way from the airport. I assumed it'd be a good start if I went to any others since (the other, nja) Nick established it as a kind of standard for his taco crawls. I got four tacos: carne asada, chile verde, al pastor, and carnitas. Also tried chips and salsa. The chips and salsa were mediocre at best. The chips have that been-in-a-bag feel to them, imo. The salsas didn't have enough flavor or kick to them. The nopales salsa was okay, but even it was lacking flavor. The tacos were a mixed bag. The carne asada was bad. Not browned at all, not juicy, not tender. Like a poor stir fry of beef. The chile verde was nice and tender with decent flavor. The al pastor was decent as well. I didn't notice any undo gristle, but I didn't think wow either. The carnitas, however, were very good. Nice and crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. Overall, I'd say it's a B+ level taqueria. Has some decent stuff. Has a very good item or two and is clean and a pleasure to eat at. The jugos and aguas did look great, btw. Nice to see they had carrot. I came away, though, pretty sure there was better. I figured if I found a second place that looked promising on my way across from I-5 to 99, I'd eat there, too. But I didn't see anything.

I got a chance to try another when I took my little brothers to Scandia Family Fun Center. It's just off Hillsdale off the Madison exit from I-80. The taqueria is called Zarape. I'd tried it before with my brothers last year. I remembered it as being pretty good. Better than La Favorita, as I remembered it. And it was. I got four kinds of tacos: chorizo, asada, adovada, and carnitas. They have decent chips and salsa there, too. Nothing as adventurous as nopales, but good ones with decent flavor and a variety of styles. No great salsas, but all decent. The chips were made there and decent. All the taco meats were good to excellent, for my tastes. Zarape is a strong believer, as am I, in the Maillard effect. All their meats had a nice crispy, caramelly crust to them (except the adovada). The chorizo had a good flavor, extra sauteed onions, etc. The asada were small little diced bits of beef with golden brown and delicious crusts. The carnitas were crispier than La Favorita's, but drier. That's a trade-off I can live with. I like a range of carnitas, from ones that aren't crisped at all but very juicy and tender to ones, like these, that are very crispy. The adovada was quite flavorful and very tender. The tacos here were a bit expensive at $1.95 each, but bigger than any other place I went to. I'd give this place an A.

On my way to the airport, I gave myself an extra hour so I could hit some more places. I started just with the idea of hitting Esperanza. But I noticed that up Franklin from Florin as you got farther north there were more and more taquerias and carnicerias and panaderias. So after finding Esperanza and going to it and it's sister panaderia, I tried a couple more places. Esperanza is a small little place right next to the food stamp office. Their prices are great. Only 79 cents for a taco. I got a carnitas taco and carne asada taco and a pork tamal. The carnitas was good, crispy, tender and moist. The asada was more like pot roast. In fact, it sort of reminded me of the pot roast I grew up with -- braised in french onion soup. Odd, but tasty. The tamal was good, but a little denser than I like. The flavor of the pork was very good, though. Best value, probably, though. They put a lot of lettuce on the tacos, which I didn't like. I went to the bakery, but didn't get anything. I wanted churros, easily my favorite pan dulce, but they only have them on weekends. The selection was good, though not really any better than the places I go up here in Portland.

Next, I went back south to Carniceria Lopez. The first one. They have a big, nice-looking place south of the original with a taqueria, also. In the back of the original is a little deli counter where you can order tacos and other typical carniceria hot foods like carnitas by the pound. I got a carnitas, adovada, and asada taco. The carnitas was good, though a little drier than it should have been. The adovada was tender and flavorful. The asada was nicely charred. The best thing about the tacos, though, was the great red salsa that came on them. I asked for hot salsa on them and it was very good. It was spicy, but I've had much more firery salsas at lots of taquerias before. It was very, very good.

Just a couple doors away was another panaderia, La Mexicana. They looked like they might have a bigger selection of pan dulces than Esperanza, though it was close. Still no churros. What's up wit that? The most wonderful of all pan dulces and no one has them. Annoying.

I almost tried another, but was running really short on time and had obviously already eaten way too much. There are several other places in that stretch from Florin to 12th, though, that I'd like to hit (most are actually much farther north than Florin, but that's where La Favorita is).

Thanks Sacramento. Good luck, Nick, on your upcoming crawl. Hope my experience helps.

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