Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Seven Tacos of Desire

I’ve been doing some research on dinner tacos, since I can’t seem to find a decent one on the Island here, although some are alright. There are seven kinds of tacos and being here so close to Mexico, you’d expect to at least see a few of them. Perhaps some kinds are more regional to places in Mexico, but here it goes. Let’s start with the easy ones:

TACOS AL CARBON. These are the grilled beef strips that we know and love as fajitas. I am not sure where the hot cast-iron plate idea came from, other than it is not mentioned in most cook books about Mexico. Onions are typically grilled separately and then added at the end. Strangely, the fajita beef is not chopped finely but often comes in large cunbersome strips. If you can afford them, the best are at the Sheraton's outside grill. Also called Carne Asada.

TACOS DORADOS. For some reason these are called flautas, which as fried tacos stuffed with shredded meat. Not my favorite, but good Valley standby.

TACOS DE PESCADO. Fish tacos are increasingly becoming popular although traditionally the battered fish is fried and you build your own taco instead of somebody else adding all the stuffing – and what’s with these four inch taco shells, anyway?

TACOS DE CAZUELA. We know this as carne guisada, where the latter word simply means “stew.” However, tacos de cazuela can be made out of anything including seafood, and the real thing can have nopales, mushrooms, chilis, and squash blossoms.

TACOS DE CARNITAS. This is basically pork that has been cooked in lard and orange rind, an interesting concept for the adventurous. What they call carnitas in the Valley is apparently nothing like the real thing in Mexico. Beware: some rather interesting parts of the animal are used unless you specify exactly what you want.

TACOS DE FRITANGAS. Rare in the US, these are fried foods such as chorizo and other interesting goodies. It is often served with a large platter of chopped cilantro and onions and some very hot salsa. Not to be confused with chorizo and egg breakfast tacos.

TACOS AL PASTOR. These are a knock-off on Arabian cuisine owed mainly to a large population of Lebanese who migrated to Mexico many years ago. Here a large chunk of meat, lamb but these days port, is roasted on a vertical spit and the meat is carved off the sides, not unlike how a real Greek gyro is made. It is served with spicy chipotle pepper sauce, however.

It all sounds good to me. Yes you can get some OK tacos on the Island but they are mainly for breakfast or either too small (fish tacos) or way too large (8-9 inch long breakfast tacos). Sadly, the best tacos on the Island are at the new Circle K convenience store.


Anonymous said...

Try breakfast tacos mornings or " Rosies Mexican plate" on Saturdays at Bennys by the Bay Cafe. Thats the old Salty Dog, in Sea Ranch Marina.

Sam said...

Hey thanks for the heads-up, will do!

Pedro said...

Sam you're right about only avg tacos on SPI. Ya want I'll fedex ya some. Yum!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous.......I didnt know Salty Dogs was gone. They had the best tacos ive ever had. Is Oscar still the owner of the new Bennys by the Bay Cafe.

mleahy said...

I think you are on to something! Tacos and great Mexican food are one thing the Island is missing. There is no excuse for it being that close to the border. I am surprised that nobody has stepped up and opened a real Mexican restaurant on the Island. This would, with out a doubt be a gold mine opportunity. I guess I am just spoiled being here in San Antonio with Great Mexican everywhere. Cheers*


Anonymous said...

Ok, now you know part of the reason Salty Dogs is gone, it closed in June and several people still don't know it...not every day week repeat business. Emmm, Oscar is gone, thats part of the reason for the name change, someone said he left his wife or something...not sure about that. A lady named Rosalinda ( Rosie) is doing most of the cooking. Food is good everyday, however, tacos arent quite as good on Rosies days off. Makes sense I guess. Lotsa American style lunch specials but great breakfast tacos and Sat Mex special. The Cantina mid-island is ok, but as for other places most Mexican food here seems kinda bland to me.