Top Three Dim Sum Picks in L.A. - Originally posted on KCET. See the full piece here. I get asked where the best place to get dim sum is a lot. Unlike more obscure categories of Chinese foo...
Monday, May 17, 2010
Tacos Aaron, Tijuana- Urban High Cuisine in Tijuana's Colonia Soler
Tacos varios(various tacos) are what they call tacos de guisado in Baja California. These tacos are most prevalent in Mexico City, but each state in Mexico has these types. They are simply put, stews in a taco. They can range from such non-traditional fillings like creamed spinach or potato salad to more traditional chicken in peanut sauce or chicharrones in green sauce.
A layer of rice is sometimes laid out to bind the wet taco together, and makes for quite a filling treat. In Tijuana there are the traditional stews, but also more northern influenced stews that reflect an emphasis on meat.
Tacos varios, or tacos de guisadorepresents Mexican home cooking at the taco stand. It's your mom throwing some of that left over machaca with eggs in a tortilla as you run off to school. At the many stands, and stalls in Mexico, these stews are cooked in the early morning and then brought to hungry customers still with sleep in their eyes. Many places open anywhere from 5am to 8am and wrap things up in the early afternoon. Once at the stand the taqueros(tacoers) ladle their tacos from fancy street chaffing trays or from traditional clay pots.
The crew at Tacos Aaron, located in Tijuana's colonia Soler, have been serving up the definitive version of Tijuana style tacos varios for close to 20 years. Colonia Soler is known as a shopping center, with its large Calimex supermarket and a Smart and Final. There is always a crowd and plenty of great places to eat in between errands.
They are one of the rare food trucks in Mexico, the only ones I've encountered have been in northern Mexico. They advertise their tacos as alta cocina urbana, urban high cuisine.
Many places with this style of taco have pretty big menus. On any given day, Tacos Aaron will have between 15 and 20 different stews to choose from. The specialty of a tacos varios taquero is COOKING, so, don't fret over the large selection, it's OK. This is genuine street gourmet food. Step up to the counter and order your first 2-3 tacos.
The set-up at Tacos Aaron has the built in chaffing trays, which are replenished during the day by runners bringing the fresh stews from the home kitchen. On one visit I was told they were out of machaca, but it would be arriving in about 15 minutes.
A good bet is the beef birria taco. This is the Tijuana style of birria, the version at Tacos Aaron isn't the best in the city but pretty damn good.
The dorado de villa can come with any filling. It's a hard fried taco, and one of three tortilla options, the other two being flour and corn. All are hand made.
The milanesa taco is outstanding, a perfectly seasoned and tender milanesa with a charred salsa roja, avocado, and crisp lettuce. While iceberg lettuce isn't exactly the most exiting vegetable, it inexplicably adds a touch of luxuriousness, not to mention a nice crunch to these tacos.
A classic stew, chicharrones(pork skin) in green sauce is made with fine, meaty chicharron. The taco is rolled into a conical shape to trap all that tangy goodness.
Thepollo adobado, another Tijuana specialty, will make you believe in chicken tacos.
The chorizo taco comes with a luscious spanish chorizo, bursting with singed pork and paprika. Lettuce, avocado, and the house salsa complete this amazing combination. Tacos varios aften come with a sauce, or a salsa comes with your taco, so use your disgression when adding condiments. You don't want to put a salsa that will clash or take away from the already perfect taco.
Eggs and machaca? Please. These come with a tomatillo sauce, you haven't lived until you've had an egg and machaca taco.
It is breakfast time after all, so the only thing better than eggs and machaca might be eggs and nopales(cactus). This is the one that goes the fastest, so get there early. The onions and cilantro at Tacos Aaron are rough cut and market fresh. This taco is the essence of tacos varios, no need for additional flavors.
While the birria didn't blow my mind, the quesabirria, beef birria with cheese is a revelation. I ordered this at first because I've learned to order anything that begins with quesa(cheese). Soupy beef birria with a melted cheese with the house salsa, it's a match made in heaven.
You will find tacos varios all over town, but the drive to colonia Soler for some tacos at Tacos Aaron is well worth the effort. These are 100% Tijuanan street tacos that you will sadly miss if you're trapped in the tourist zone. Tacos varios, or tacos de guisado are a journey all taco aficionados must make at least once in their life, yes, it's like going to Mecca for us.
colonia Soler, alonside the Calimax.
7 days a week
mornings until the food runs out
I recommend between 8am and 10am for the best stews