Thursday, November 7, 2013

Good value fast eats at La Tacqueria

La Taqueria on Urbanspoon Thursday afternoon was my very first time to La Tacqueria (Cambie location). 12 Tacos x 0-4 sauces x 0-2 condiments = 180 combination = big headache. I didn't really want to spend hours thinking about what amounts to essentially fast food, so I opted for "chef's choice" -- That is, I asked the person at the counter what were the four most interesting ones, and let him recommend condiments and how much to put on them.

The fellow at the counter was really welcoming and friendly, and especially for a first-timer like me (he asked if I'd ever been there), it was comforting that he had zero hesitation and great confidence in what to recommend. Not afraid to zap on the optional sauces for me either, and not seemingly haphazardly -- for each type of taco, he recommended a particular sauce.

For the condiments, it was up to me, and I opted to throw on some jalapeno (which turned out to be a big mistake). The tacos also came with a wedge of lime, which I used sparingly.

The tacos recommended were the Carnitas (pork confit with pickled red onions), De Cachete (braised beef cheeks), Chorizo (special of the day), and Tinga De Pollo (chicken with chorizo in a chipotle tomato sauce, topped with mexican cheese + sour cream). Each was gone in two bites, so I didn't really get to carefully dissect their flavour. Something had star anise in it, though, which is off-putting for me personally, so next time maybe I'll read the ingredients first...

The tacos one on two small round soft shells (probably because a single shell would have seen the wet toppings soak and tear through). Toppings are generous. You can just fold the tacos and pick them up, but generally it results in one side wider with filling than the other. If you're not careful, you'll explode the toppings out the other end when you bite it. No matter what you do, you'll probably make a wet mess of your hands but your clothing can escape unscathed if you're careful, though you might want to roll back your sleeves a bit.

There's nothing wrong with the toppings themselves. Not superlative in taste, but definitely not just soggy, pulled, meat.
Go easy with the spiciest of the sauces as the hot buzz in your mouth can cover up the flavour of what you are eating. Same with the jalapeno chilis. Maybe one or two small pieces per taco, maximum.

Overall, at $2.50 per taco, it probably comes in at slightly less filling than a cheap chain burger because of the tacos versus buns, but you get about the same but more interesting filling (and less chance of mystery meat) at a comparable price (comparing this with the current A&W two-for-four-dollar promotion). It works out to a fair-value fast-food meal.

If you want to carefully dissect what you like, then eat them slowly without sauce or toppings. For the sauces, until you know what you like, ask for recommendations and maybe put it on yourself, on half the taco so you can taste the difference.
But this isn't sit-down gourmet stuff. This is fast food with a ton more variety than a burger joint, and at good value, so don't agonize over it.

The recommended Mexican drink, a Jarritos Tamarindo http://www.jarritos.com/flavors/tamarind, wasn't as spicy in flavour as suggested, but no complaints at just $2.

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