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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Taqueria El Chino-Hermosillo,Sonora:The Head of the Class
Saving face after a night of chelas, tacos de cabeza are para la cruda(hangover)
A pair of El Chino's tacos de cabeza, pure heaven on Earth
Every part of Mexico has their weekend breakfast foods and hangover cures. Menudo,barbacoa, birria,estofado de camaron,ceviche,siete mares,etc. In Baja it's tacos de birria de res, and nearby Sonora, it's got to be tacos de cabeza(head).
My good friend Gerardo from Hermosillo took me to a place many years ago for tacos de cabeza. He told me that it's what they do in Hermosillo on the weekends, "para la cruda", he bellowed. Well, the concerts I play at the palenques don't usually get out until 3AM or even 4AM sometimes by the time we get back to the hotel. Palomas and beers before and during the gig, more booze entertaining the local prey back at the hotel after a day of soundchecking, traveling,schleping gear, and performing, then the 8AM lobby call.Makes it hard to get one last food experience in before heading back to the states, but I always try if the hit is doable.
Gerardo told me that he would pick me up at 6:45AM to go have tacos to which I agreed with a wince, already contemplating how screwed I was going to be by the time I got back to LA. No time for a nap either.After the show and a couple hours of whispering strategic blandishments to a Sonoran girl,they only second in beauty in Mexico to the girls of Sinaloa, it was off to the lobby for some tacos.
I have to say that the tacos were amazing.But, sleep deprived, still drunk, and stung by the charms of a Sonoran girl, the experience wasn't fully digested but in that fog of a 24 hour cycle was the haunting memory of a taco so good, that it makes you tremble.
Last month, gigging at the Feria de Hermosillo, I had it on my list to get up and have some tacos de cabeza before I came back home.We had a later call, so time was on my side this time. I was referred to Taqueria El Chino by local consensus, and when I arrived I realized that this was the place I had been with Gerardo a few years back.Hangover free and armed with 3.5 hours of sleep, I was ready.Two tacos de cabeza were ordered and served rapid fire. The cabeza is steamed dark and juicy to the eye. I dressed one red and the other green and then, a rhapsodic smack hit my senses. The saucy and savory beef head meat is so balanced in its flavors, spicing, and texture, the red salsa worked fantastically.Everything fresh, the salsas, the toppings, the meats.This is the perfect taco.
The sesos tacos were levels above anything I've had before. And the taco de frijol made with frijoles maneados, Sonoran refritos, were laughingly good. "A bean taco? Really? "Oh damn, give me another one of those &%$!ing things"
Taco de seso, El Chino
This tacos de cabeza was famously paired with El Chino's salsa roja, a thing of beauty. Take care in finishing this taco, you want to pair, not drown this gem.
The condiments and tacoing at El Chino are standards of excellence
Taco de frijol, Sonoran refritos are addicting
These are better than my favorite tacos de birria de res in Tijuana, and remind me of what a taco should be. A homemade tortilla with subtle flavoring as a launching pad for a baddass filling topped with fresh and complementing vegetables and salsas.A taco should be an event in your mouth. It should be the subject of virulent debate alongside your favorite soccer team. The tacos at El Chino provide a standard that everything else you eat or drink that day has to match.
A refrescos and aguas station split the outdoor dining area
Taqueria El Chino
Taqueria El Chino is stand with covered seating area in a parking lot. It is right around the corner from Hermosillo's best tacos of carne asada, Tacos Jass.They have a few other branches, but the location here is close to downtown, the hotel district. It's walking distance from the Holiday Inn, where the band always stays when in Hermosillo.
You will see tacos de cabeza all throughout the state of Sonora, but you haven't had them until you've been here.When I was leaving they waved me back curiously questioning why I was taking pictures. After a brief and friendly chat the manager, he showed me their award, as 2008's best taco in Hermosillo. The 2009 awards are coming up,so, you'd better get over to Taqueria El Chino fast and cast your vote.These are some of the best tacos I've had in Mexico, and are a must when visiting Hermosillo.
Best in show, 2008
Taqueria El Chino
Blvd Morelos no. 16
right around the corner from Tacos Jass