How I Became A Food Writer - I get the inevitable career question a lot. Why did you become a food writer? How do you become a food writer? For those who have asked me this in IRL, I p...
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
La Taqueseria, Tijuana: A Cosmic Event Occurs in the Taco Center of the Universe
Update: Takesos y Papas is now called La Taqueseria and is located at the Food Garden on Sanchez Taboada and Mision de Santo Tomas in the Zona Rio.
It seems I've stopped at Tacos Salceados everytime I've been in Tijuana for several years now, especially when bringing some one new to this great street food capital of Mexico. A recent trip with Cathy of Gastronomy blog was to fulfill a much needed conclusion to her brief experience at the famed taqueria on a trip we took with 29 others in 2009.
When we were seated, I noticed and felt a huge change in the taqueria so esteemed it has been named La Ermita after its street, as to say the tacos and stretch of pavement need no other marker. You could open a hundred other taco stands on that same street and only one would be referred to as los tacos La Ermita.
The taqueros were all so young, they had new matching uniforms,the tacos were great but not quite the usual flair and power, and.....where's Marcos? "He left and opened another place", said a young runner. No need to shoot the messenger, because here at Street Gourmet LA, we have the ultimate taquero and street vendor rolodex. I gave Marcos a call and he let me know he would be opening in a week or so at the food court in the Plaza Monarcha.
After one premature visit I finally caught the brand new Takesos y Papas, lo mejor taco salseado(the best saucier taco). It's part of the food court right next to the Cinépolis movie theater in Plaza Monarcha.I'm thinking there shall be a movie and taco night in my near future.
If you thought you were adventurous by making it out to Tacos Salceados on your own, Plaza Monarcha shall be your next test.Head east on Paseo de Los Heroes and continue on as it turns into Federico Benitez Lopez, make a left on Manuel Clouthier, and another left on Gato Branco, the plaza will be on your left hand side. Look for the monarcha, or monarch butterfly.Or, tell the taxi driver, "a la Plaza Monarcha!"
The Plaza Monarcha is a new, middle-class mall, with an amusement park or play area in every hall. Each section is at a different elevation on the side of a hill. This has to be the most kid-friendly mall I've ever seen, so bring your little ones, they'll love it here.
Who is Marcos? Marcos Flores is just the guy who's been in charge of the kitchen at Tacos Salceados ever since I've been going.The founder of Tacos Salceados, Javier Campos Gutierrez is rumored to have been ill and unable to be in the kitchen all these years. In all the visits to Mr. Campos' taqueria, Marcos was the one putting the finishing touches on the tacos, supervising the kitchen, and providing excellence in customer service.For me, Tacos Salceados has always been about Marcos.
With Takesos y Papas, Marcos wants to bring back the quality and attention to detail that he loved about his former job. His new place is a small food court set-up, just Marcos as taquero, a tortilla maker, and a server/cashier.This is like the Sox losing Babe Ruth!!
The salsas are like the ones you had at Salceados with some twists and turns, but most importantly, Marcos is there to tell you which ones are which, and to keep them fresh. This wasn't the case at Salceados in the last year and a half where they were just set out,scattered,unkept at times, and you had to guess which salsa you were getting. These salsas and creams are emullsified with egg whites to give them that unique saucier touch that you've come to know and love.
Delicious chiles güeros prepared the northern way, in soy with seasoning are with generous spice balanced by strong fruit. This is one of the most tasty chile plates in Mexico, and it's on the house.Ask for some grilled green onions, too, called cebollitas.
Marcos remembers his customers and first sent out the New York steak and shrimp taco, always a favorite of mine.Melted cheese, Mexican cream, a medium salsa of chile de arbol, and panache are the final touches.Yes, this is how I remember these, the way they should always be.
The reverse quesataco invented at Tacos Salceados is now served at Takesos y Papas. This is traditionally done with melted cheese in side a taco, here cheese is fried on a flat top grill,proteins are tucked inside and pocket of fried cheese these served as is or atop a fresh tortilla.
You can get any of Takesos y Papas tacos done as a quesataco, don't leave here without trying one.
The taco dulce con piña(sweet taco with pineapple), a truly special treat of savory and sweet is amazing. Chicken or shrimp with pineapple is a good way to go here. It's a quesataco with your choice of protein and cheese, bathed in rasberry, mango, and strawberry sauces with an ample sprinkle of chopped pecans.
There's a full menu of interesting and delicious tacos that is similar to Tacos Salceados but Marcos plans to incorporate other items as they become more established.
Takesos y Papas means that the there is now being formed an original style of tacoing in Tijuana, the gospel is spreading. It won't be long before you see a fancy taqueria in the Condesa or La Roma neighborhoods of Mexico City serving tacos Tijuana style. This is a beautiful thing. there are now two places featuring this style of tacos. Contemporary presentation that is cool and hip without the sillyness that I've seen in so many US food magazines attempting to stylize tacos for home cooks.
As for Tacos Salceados, the word is out that the quality is slipping, and my last visit confirms this troubling news. Javier needs to get back to his kitchen and make sure his new people are doing their job, and train another leader to run his place if he can't be around. The kids aren't cutting it and it takes more than some sharp new uniforms.
In Tijuana, the taco center of the universe has a new orbit.
Takesos y Papas
Plaza Monarcha, Local C-89
7 days from 12PM-9PM
From US (011-52)664-361-5407
Bl. Fundadores, 2693
Mon-Sun, 3P.M. to 11P.M.(Closed Wednesdays)