Monday, February 18, 2008

Taco-time

Since I am currently hungry, I thought now might be a good time to do a write-up of the various taco establishments I frequent (i.e. have visited two or more times).


By the way, unless otherwise specified, the tacos I refer to are more aptly called "taquitos," a flat tortilla being about 4 or 5 inches in diameter (I estimate). OH, and also eat your tacos with fresh lime--I do!

Sierritas III

I had the pleasure of dining at the nearby Tacos Sierra (a Oaxacan icon) location just this evening, and it was as delicious as always. Sierritas specializes in carnitas al pastor - meat slow roasted on a spit similar to that you see in Greek restaurants (but the meat is pork, I believe, definitely not lamb). Meat is sliced off the split and tossed onto tortillas, tortas (this is the word for a sandwich on french-style bread with black beans, tomato, avocado, and sometimes other ingredients), or tostadas. An order of 5 tacos at Sierritas cost $30 pesos. The thing I love best is their salsa--it's greenish and deliciously flavorful. Perhaps a tiny bit too spicy for me, but the fact that I keep going back and requesting picante is just a testament to how tasty it is. If pressed, I would call this my favorite taco place.

Las Arracheras

Just down the street from our neighborhood, Las Arracheras specializes in (unsurprisingly) arrachera, which is a cut of beef similar to skirt steak (or so I've been told). It's actually the only meat I've tried at Las Arracheras. One taco costs $7 pesos and if you like comes with onions and cilantro (a topping simply called "verduras," which literally means "vegetables" and so was sort of confusing initially). Condiments provided include salsa (too smoky/sweet for my tastes), thin guacamole (perfect for tacos), and pico de gallo (they make it with chunks of jalepeno here, which is a little much for me). Las Arracheras also serves tlayudas, which are large tortillas folded in half, filled with beans, quesillo, meat, tomato, and avacado, then grilled. I've always split one with someone else, and I've always been stuffed afterwards. Las Arracheras also has beers for $15 pesos.

El Pastorcito

El Pastorcito is a relatively new find for Jasmine and myself, but we're already pretty confident that they've got the best deal in the vicinity. Tacos are a mere $5 pesos apiece, and on Friday, you can get two orders of five for the price of one--last Friday, we ordered 20 tacos for the equivalent price of $5 USD. You can also get a glass of agua de horchata (sweetend rice water) for $6 pesos, which means that even on a normal night, you can get five tacos and some horchata for less than $3 USD, which is pretty frickin' awesome. El Pastorcito is named for its pastor style meat (see the Sierritas entry); they serve their tacos with onion and cilantro like Las Arracheras and also include a couple pieces of grilled pineapple (I'm fan; others not so much). Their condiments are also similar to Las Arracheras', but they have both salsa rojo and salsa verde, and both are delicious. The first time I went I got a torta, and it was immense (and tasty).

El Balcon de la Lechuza (The Owl's Perch) and La Antequera (an old name for Oaxaca)

Both of these restaurants are open super late (a fact I have yet to take advantage of, despite remarking upon it frequently) and serve "arabic" and "oriental" style tacos. Tacos arabe are served on flat bread rather similar to pita bread, in that it is a little puffy; they are also made of flour instead of corn. Tacos oriental are served on corn tortillas, and I have yet to figure out how their different from normal tortillas. Both of these restaurant serve carne al pastor, and there are a couple other restaurants with similar fare also nearby. In a knockdown, drag-out contest, I'd have to go El Balcon over La Antequera because the former uses quesillo (the locally made "string cheese") and the latter manchego (a greasy, heavier cheese), and I prefer quesillo (if you couldn't tell). Try the tacos arabe de lechuza (no, they don't have owl meat--they just come with cheese). El Balcon is also closer to my house and right across the street from Popeye's; despite this fact I've only been twice...we hardly ever see anyone in the restaurant...it's just open all the time and the owner and her son sit and watch soap operas. I will admit that La Antequera serves larger portions.

Finally, in case you were wondering, the photo at the top of the page is from a taco stand that appears weekly at the Friday Market in Parque Llano. It is alway enormously crowded, and for good reason--Jasmine and I agree that these are the most delicious tacos we've tried. They're only around once a week, but you can bet that I'm going to be at Parque Llano every remaining Friday I'm in town to get my fix. Last week I had two tacos de castillo...I'm not exactly sure what kind of meat that is, but they offer a few varieties.


Oh man, I'm really hungry now (and hopefully you are, too!). I started this post last night and I'm finishing it this morning...time to go eat breakfast.

5 comments:

Jim Leff said...

I noticed Balcon De La Lechuza two weeks ago while down there and thought it looked good!

Have you tried the equally intriguing "Carnitas Michoacanas" just down the block? I'd love to hear a report....and also would love to get its address!!

ayn said...

Hey Jeff,

I'm actually back in the States now. I don't recall seeing a "Carnitas Michoacanas;" there is more than one Balcon location so perhaps you are seeing a different one than the one I passed every day.

Michoacana is also the name of a tasty ice cream place (as well as a place in Mexico, of course).

Jim Leff said...

Agreed on the quality of the Michoacana ice cream places (really paletas...or popsicles). Michoacan's a state of mexico known for their paletas, hence the name.

I'm sorry you can't solve the carnitas mystery, but I'm enjoying your blog!

ayn said...

You're right...I keep forgetting that the place I got paletas between classes was a Michocana. Normally I think of the Michoacana in the Zocalo that serves ice cream and nieves. Popeye's was my usual place for paletas.

How long have you been in Oaxaca?

Jim Leff said...

Just there for a week, but hoping to return sometime soon. Aside from the pollution, it's a great place. I need to find a furnished place to rent...