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Tacos Moreno in Santa Cruz: Tacos More-yes!! (longish)

Carb Lover | Dec 2, 200405:43 PM

Thanks to Eric Eto's urging and his fiery post on Tacos Moreno (link below), there was no doubt where I was to eat lunch today. Hubby couldn't miss this one either.

Drove to the little storefront at 1053 Water St. and, in typical SC fashion, found parking right in front. Couldn't miss it, as there was a sizeable line of hungry people snaking out from the front door. Oh, this was lookin' promising...

We get sidetracked at the window of the saxophone store next door; hubby is entranced by the shiny glow of brass. Store is closed anyway (TG!), and I nudge him towards our destination. Get in line behind about 10 people, all looked like regulars, waiting patiently with comfort in knowing what reward was to come. Crowd was really diverse and most people seemed to recognize/know one another, as if their regular patronage had bonded them for life.

Line moved quickly; staff was efficient. Hubby grabs one of the last empty tables while I order. This initiation called for a customized sampler, so order one taco of each: carnitas, al pastor, chile verde (beef & green chile), and chicken. 4 tacos ($2.65 each) + 1 Mex. mandarin orange soda = $13+. Will have to try burritos and quesadilla next time. Small, focused menu but regulars didn't look tired of the offerings.

Food came quickly in red plastic baskets. Corn tortillas were soft and nothing like the kind in the market. Cupped my hands around one and took a bite--WOWZA, this was good...beans were plump and not overly sauced, few green shavings (cabbage?) on top, meat cradled at the bottom was incredibly flavorful.

Comical part was that we weren't sure which was which at first. Surprisingly difficult to discern since everything is slow-cooked and melded together. Could be a downside that there isn't enough distinction in flavor btwn. items, but who really cares, when it all tastes good?! Liked their spicy salsa--I can still feel a slight tingle from the heat at the corners of my mouth. Favorites were carnitas and chile verde, but I'd have them all again.

Couldn't resist a stop at Allbright's Donut Shoppe next door for an apple fritter ($1.10) on our way to the car. Only took a couple bites and saved the rest for later, but it was pretty good. Probably fresher in the AM.

Thanks again, Eric. And BTW, you'll be happy to know that they do have that lengua (tongue) back on the menu! Will try that next time. So glad that Moreno is in my 'hood. Sign on front door says they are open 10am-8pm (I think 7 days a week). Taqueria Vallarta is dif., but I'd pledge my allegiance to Moreno if I had to choose one...


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