August 27, 2012

Mexicali Taco & Co.

Cachetada with egg - $3.75

As a Korean Angeleno, I grew up eating kimchi and tacos long before Chef Roy Choi introduced the duo as a fusion-forward fad. While Korean food defined me, Mexican food completed me.  Twenty-something years later, not much has changed. { ex: taco hunt 2k11 }

Mexicali Taco & Co. has been on my radar for quite some time.  The former taco truck went brick & mortar about 6 months ago, and has since received much love from friends and strangersalike.  After several patient months, I finally celebrated Taco Tuesday -- a weekly holiday for all taco lovers -- at this fine dining establishment.  Three words: worthy of hype.

My favorite dish of the night was the Vampiro, which is a crispy quesadilla stuffed with choice(s) of meat (carne asada, pollo, chorizo) and a few squirts of a garlic sauce with melted cheese that transports you into another world.  We ordered a carne asada one first.  Then, we ordered a pollo one.  If our stomachs weren't on the verge of bursting, we would have ordered a chorizo one, too.  It's just really that good.

Carne Asada Vampiro - $3.75

Carne Asada Vampiro

My next favorite was the Cachetada, which is like a classic tosada, topped with choice of meat, melted Mexican cheese, and a savory chipotle aioli sauce.  Because I'm a go-big-or-go-home kind of girl, I added a fried egg to the mix.  How can you go wrong with a fried egg?  You can't.

Chorizo Cachetada - $3.00

Runny egg yolk.

The tacos are the real highlight of this place.  Just like how the bread can make or break a sandwich, I believe a tortilla can make a taco memorable or not. Mexicali receives their tortilla from Mexico. And whoa baby, you can tell the difference. The chewiness of the tortilla alone demonstrates its freshness.

Since I had a difficult time choosing between pollo and carne asada, I did the most logical thing: I got both (fat kid for life).  The pollo was juicy with just the right amount of grease and charred flavor.  Roll it up taquito-style or top with marinated onions, hot sauces, cabbage bits, and other delicious fixings, and you have one flavor-packed pocket of delight. You want authentic?  You got it right here.

Just as noteworthy was the carne asada.  The meats were cooked so well that the tender pieces almost melted with every bite.

Last, but not least, the chorizo.  I found it to be tasty with a hint of heat, just as chorizo should be.  However, it wasn't my fave meat choice.

As if we weren't gluttonous enough, we topped it all off with an order of nachos with half carne asada and half pollo toppings.  The chips were thick and crispy, and though soaked in queso, never did one turn soggy.

Such great food at more than reasonable prices are a rarity in LA.  So do yourself a favor and treat yourself to one of LA's best taco shops around.  You won't be disappointed.  And if you are, well, then I'll eat your food for you.  Arriba!

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Mexicali Taco & Co on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Mexican
location: Downtown LA
hours: M-Th: 11 am - 10 pm; F-Sat: 11 am - midnight
websites { Mexicali | yelp | twitter }
attire: Casual
parking: street or 3-space lot
other reviews: { LA Weekly | Last Bite }