Mexciali Taco & Co Might Be The Biggest Lunch Opening of 2012
Last year Mexicali Taco & Co. shocked the world by defeating Mariscos Jalisco in the finals of LA Taco’s Taco Madness 2011. Ok, maybe “shock the world” is a bit of an overstatement. But the shrimp taco dorado from the Mariscos Jalisco truck is one of the single greatest tacos I have ever eaten. And the whole thing is deep fried. Could a simple carne asada taco (even one covered in garlic and cheese that’s been melted quesadilla style) compete with a taco that was good enough to dispatch Ricky’s Fish Tacos in the semi finals!? Sadly, Mexicali Taco wasn’t open for lunch. And tracking down their makeshift, late night, outdoor set up on 1st & Beaudry was just not realistic for those of us who do our DTLA food exploring during the day.
So when I heard that they were finally opening a brick and mortar location, and that location would have regular business hours (aka open for lunch!) I got pretty excited. In fact, for fans of lunch, yesterday’s grand opening could be the biggest of 2012.
As you can probably guess from the name, Mexicali is a town on the Mexico side of the Mexico/California border, just over the line from Calexico (a town made famous in NYC by a cart that unsurprisingly serves similar food to what you get from Mexicali.) According to Bill Esparza, L.A. resident Mexican food expert, the area is known for their carne asada, beer, and chinese food (!?!), as well as a watery guacamole that is a signature of Baja cuisine.
Mexicali brings that tradition to L.A. with carne asada (which Bill calls the only good carne asada in L.A.), chicken and chorizo served in any number of different permutations.
There’s the standard taco, which they’ll serve in flour or corn tortillas ($2.25) But I don’t think that this is what won them Taco Madness 2011.
That honor probably goes to the Vampiro, a cheesy, quesadilla-like creation that is filled with your choice of meat plus a special garlic sauce ($3.75).
They also have cachetadas, the Mexicali version of a tostada, topped with melted cheese and a chipotle aoili. One of the best new features of the new Mexicali menu is that you can add a fried egg for just 75 cents.
A gooey, perfectly cooked over easy egg would likely improve any of dishes on the menu, but when it gets broken over the top of a cachetada it makes you question the sanity of a person who would eat this without the egg.
The other addition to the menu is the nachos ($5.75), which features your choice of meat, and chips covered with a variety of cheeses- although the only one you really taste is the melted nacho cheese (a bad or a good thing depending on how much you like nacho cheese. I like.)
Finally, if you are a glutton for the sake of being a glutton you’ll want the zuperman ($5), which features all three meats (chicken, chorizo and carne asada) sandwiched between two tortillas with cheese. It’s not as flavorful as the vampiro, but did we mention it’s got THREE MEATS! Fun fun.
Need a deal? There are also lunch specials! 2 tacos plus a drink is $5.25, and 3 tacos plus a drink is $7.25. Or you can mix and match. A cachetada & taco plus drink is $6. And a vampiro & taco plus drink is $6.75. For drinks you can only get soda or water, but they will let you upgrade to one of their aguas frescas for an extra charge.
As good as the stuff from Mexicali is on its own, you’ll still want to hit up their salsa bar- which might be the thing that quietly puts this place over the top. Their salsas are all bright and fresh, and their Baja style guacamole is super tasty. Don’t be shy either! Open up that vampiro, and add those onions directly onto the cheesy meaty mixture.
Considering how good Mexicali was on Day 1, I think it’s safe to say that old and new fans alike won’t be disappointed by their new brick and mortar. Sure, the prices are a little more expensive and it’s not going to be as much fun as eating the food on the street- but that’s a small price to pay for knowing that you can get a vampiro during the day, and without checking twitter. And the best part is, they’re not done yet. Word is there are going to be carne asada fries at some point in the near future (despite what they said on twitter, they don’t have them yet!) as well as other, possibly secret, specials. Now if only we could get them to serve Mexicali style Chinese food…
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I’ve been wanting to try this place forever! So glad they’re finally open for lunch.
- Carne asada that’s actually grilled and not cooked on a flat top? What a novel idea!
- Where else can you get authentic Mexicali style vampiros and cachetadas in L.A.?
- I’m a vegetarian, and the new menu includes a vegetarian option
- Such a huge fan of Mexicali… not a huge fan of showing up at 1st and Beaudry only to find out they weren’t there. Having a permanent location is worth paying the extra $$$
- I love how they serve grilled scallions with the tacos, and everything else with a little cup of beans
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Baja style food is a little too bland for me. I prefer the other regions of Mexico better.
- Part of the joy of Mexicali was it being on the street. Having a brick and mortar sucks the fun out of it.
- No beer yet!?! How can you have Mexicali food without beer?
- This place is too small. And there’s not a ton of parking. Only a matter of time before it’s packed beyond belief…
- I don’t care about authenticity! I’ll stick with my $1 carne asada tacos from a truck, thank you.
- Don’t you know that the sun kills vampiros?
Mexicali Taco & Co., 702 N. Figueroa St. 310-395-6416