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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tacos Marco Antonio, Ensenada, BC: The Pride of Ensenada's Cannery Row
Ensenada has the greatest street food distraction in the fish taco. The fish taco is one of those required eating foods when in town. Most never make it past the barkers of the Black Market fondas, and those who venture out may find the hand full of fish taco shrines dotting the streets behind the tourist drag.
But there are other kinds of tacos to have in Ensenada, the typical northen meats represented in Baja:asada, adobada, tripas,and beef birria. There are also tacos of guisado usually called tacos varios in Baja. These are home stews ladeled onto tacos, with rice serving as a binding agent, keeping the wholesome sauces from dripping off the tortilla.
With the bounty of Baja seafood nearby, it would be logical that a regional style of guisados(stews) would be flourishing. Well....it isn't. There are a handful of stands and Taquerias in Baja that are so inventive that they discourage imitation.
Marco Antonio, the cook and owner of Tacos Marco Antonio has been serving his original brand of seafood tacos of guisado for the past 5 years.
He serves his 17+ different kinds of seafood tacos as his residence in Ensenada. Marco Antonio opens at 8AM,and in the tradition of most specialty taco operations in Mexico, he sells until he runs out, usually by 1PM or 2PM most of the best items will be sold out.
At the end of his driveway lies the cannery he inherited from his father. At one time they had a major production, but these days a small crew cans just a handful of products. Overfishing and the economy had slow Marcos Antonio down and 5 years ago he did something about it and reinvented himself.
He had grown up around seafood, they used to can everything.The used cans of his family label, Marco Antonio, serve as napkin holders for his taco stand.
When I arrived with friends Jon and Vinny from Animal restaurant, and Brian, the place was in full swing.
To order, you just walk up and call out your tacos, they are served on warm tortillas, and you head over to dress with stylish condiment.
The condiment station has the watermark of excellence that only the best street food stands display. Original salsas customized for the cooks tacos, and a variety of other tailored toppings.
There are three types of onions to put on your tacos. Onions with black olives, pickled red onion, and lime and worcestershire sauce marinated onions to give you a broader palate.
Sea snail tacos were available as a special on this visit, always a favorite of mine.
Tacos of tuna machaca and caguatun tuna prepared in the caguamanta style, which is a local manta ray preparation that had replaced the endangered Baja tortoise.
Both tacos are great, and I was having fun combining various salsas and vegetable on each taco. The tuna machaca is a fine addition to the world of machaca, usually dried beef, but machaca can be made with any protein. Local yellow tail tuna adds a firmer texture and deeper flavor than manta ray.
The shrimp in chipotle is a real crowd pleaser, all of us liked this one. Chipotle can be such a "cop out", but the use of the popular spice was subtle, and ultimately delicious.
The fried fish skin and crab tacos were up next. The fish skin is breaded making it simple, but very accessible to all. The crab is fantastic, fresh and full bodied with a superb balance of sweetness with savory sauce.
The tuna loin taco was good, but not quite as good as it sounded. The tuna itself had plenty of flavor, but it just was a tad dry, and somewhat ordinary.
The salmon looked great, and had we not many more stops to make I would have indulged. They were out of the salmon belly too, that I wouldn't have passed up!Next time.
Other tacos include:shrimp stuffed chile,breaded fish,ranch style tuna, adoboed tuna,breaded crab, to name a few, and also empanadas of tuna machaca.
Marco Antonio is like your tio that always seems to have great advice,actually looks cool in a Hawaiian shirt, and and has an undiying spirit. When he saw the canning business slip, he simply started one of the most amazing taco stands in Baja.
He is well known among the locals, but located just about a mile from the main tourist drag, he might as well be in another universe.This is another one of Ensenada's best kept secrets.
Save room for a fish taco, but you only need ONE good one, okay two.But, be sure and park yourself at Tacos Marco Antonio with a crew, and dig into some Baja bliss.
Whay aren't more stands doing this? Who cares, all you need is right here.
Tacos Marco Antonio
Av. Rayon(between 3rd and 4th)
8AM 'til around 2PM, or when the tacos run out.