I found out about this westside favorite from a taco informant over at Yelp.com. I read the reviews, checked the menu and was a bit wary about the quality of taco. First off, the front sign says, "Taco Plus.... Fresh All The Time." Uh oh, is this another westside, "fresh-mex" taco joint? I've encountered a couple and more often than not, left less than happy. Second, tacos cost $2.35. That just makes me shake my head. Will this trip be worth it?
Friday, May 8, 2009
I took my chances anyways...
First off, parking here can be a BITCH. But of course it is, you're in the Westside during lunch time. Note for you taco hunters, if at first you can't find parking in the centre, park across the street at the Smart and Final lot, behind Santa Monica Blvd.
But if you're blessed by God like me...you get hooked up like this during gnar lunch time periods...
*Jeep always in the crucial.
The inside is very small, only 3 or 4 tables that seat 4 and a back bar area with 4 stools. I could tell this place was for the locals who have time on their hands, or people who work in the area who get their meals to go.
Remember the "Fresh All The Time," logo out front? Well, let me tell you, right when I walked in I noticed a glass container with food sitting in heat pans. I didn't really mind seeing rice and beans, etc... in there, but what did bug me was seeing cut up asada, pastor and carnitas sitting in this heat box. Fresh all the time, huh??
While ordering, I noticed a big grill right behind chica with pollo, asada, fish and various other goodness being grilled fresh. Now that's the business!! I was just hoping they weren't gonna give me the bumbaclat sitting in the heat box.
My fears were realized once I saw poncho getting my tacos ready. Whats worse, before homeboy even got there, I saw a coworker of his pouring water all over the meats! What is this shit? Are you really pouring water all over the meat in hopes of slowing down the drying process.
"Fuck," is all I can say. I have a feeling my meat is gonna be really dry. Fuck it. I'm gonna it eat.
Before I begin, I want to address something that did impress me about this place. Their salsa bar was definitely a "plus." They have everything you could need, two rojas, a mild verde, cilantro, pico de gallo, radishes, limes and even green onions. Check out my set up...good looking aint it?
Anyways, the tacos are very big. Much bigger than your normal taqueria...hence, the $2.35 charge. The really load it with plenty of the meat. But one downside, is the tortillas were not very good. They tasted like store bought Guerrero brand that I'm not a fan of. Their super starchy and do not keep heat very well. My first bite, I expected some warmth, but no, none at all. It was like eating straight up room temperture tortillas...terrible.
First thing I notice is the flavor. It was undeniably pastor, but I'm not a fan of their marinade. Very unremarkable, with the "heat pan" pastor being dry. I did appreciate the crispy edges, but not at the cost of dry meat. Also, the salsa they put on top tasted like nothing. It was like having water that didn't help the already crappy tortilla. By the end, the inner tortilla was soggy and on the point of breaking.
Hmmm, I'm kinda on the fence with this one. While the meat was dry and lacked any sort of mexican flavor, it was very lean and grilled properly with a nice stand alone beefy flavor. Like the pastor, it had charred crispy edges that tasted great, just the meat was soo dry, and once again, the crap salsa they put on top didn't help. A good thing was I was able to take it off and put on their "very hot" salsa, which wasn't really that hot, and I'm no fire eater.
It would be a stretch calling this place "authentic." Shoot, it's probably authentic to the masses here on the Westside who are transplants from the Midwest, where their idea of a "Mexican Restaurant" would be Cabo Cantina. It would be better to describe this place as a "watered down" version of Mexican food. The sad part is, it's a literal description as well. Really Taco Plus? Did you really just pour water all over the meats in that case? And "fresh all the time," my ass.
Tacos ~ $2.39
Taco Plus ~ 1525 S. Bundy Dr. Santa Monica, CA 90025 (310) 207.0793