#16. Tripas Tacos at Taco Pronto

Gutsy tacos!
Gutsy tacos!
ProfessorSalt.com

ProfessorSalt.com
Gutsy tacos!

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If you're the sort that scans through a taquería menu and considers the odd bits--cabeza, lengua, tripas, sesos, buche and such--you understand that ordering them comes with a high risk of poor execution. How many times have you received grey cubes of tough, undercooked, unsalted lengua? No wonder organ meats get a bad rap.

The tripas tacos at Taco Pronto are not beef stomach, but small intestine, and they're crave-worthy: a perfectly cooked thing of contrasting textures and bold flavors.

As a raw ingredient, intestines are pallid grey, rubber-worm-looking tubes with zero eye appeal. They're simmered until tender, then chopped finely and cooked again atop the flat-top griddle, where they're transformed into a gorgeous dark brown. The thinner pieces of tripitas take on a crispy texture and toasty flavor, while the thicker pieces retain a pleasant chewiness.

A squeeze of lemon juice brightens the fat in these little crispy critters, but the star, flavor-wise, are their home-made salsas. The salsa roja is made early in the morning, long before customers arrive. Why? Cooks toast big bags of chiles japonesas over high heat on the griddle until charred, releasing billows of eye-tearing smoke. Then, they blend buckets of raw onion and fresh tomato with these dark chiles to thicken the brick-red salsa into something muy picosa. Their salsa quemada, on the other hand, is a chunkier, fire-roasted creation with bits of charred vegetables and a milder heat level.

Both salsas plus the lemon juice make for a deliciously drippy taco, the kind where you aim the juice that runs past your fingers onto the accompanying tostada chips so you don't waste any. Snarling from the chile heat and smacking your lips like an animal, it's a meal you probably want to enjoy by yourself unless you go with other carnivorous jackals that share your primal urge to eat intestine.

Taco Pronto, 1714 E. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 558-1082; also at 30 E. Orangethorpe Ave., Anaheim, (714) 992-5542; www.tacopronto.net.

The rest of the list!

#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree
#73. 5 a.m. Chitterlings at Tri-Village
#72. Spinach Empanadas at El Gaucho #2
#71. Croissants at Molinos Bakery
#70. Beso de Monja at El Rincón del Sabor
#69. Fatteh at Kareem's
#68. Korean Beef Rib Sandwich at Kaffa
#67. Rice Flour Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar
#66. The Hash Browns at Pop's Cafe
#65. Seven Courses of Beef at Thien An
#64. Baby Back Ribs at Blake's Place
#63. Fish and Chips at The Chippy
#62. Roasted Beef Marrow Bones at Brasserie Pascal
#61. The Lunch Buffet at Tandoor Cuisine of India
#60. Eggs, Charcuterie and Bread at Uyen Thy Bistro
#59. Wang Mandoo at Myung In
#58. Gobi Paratha at Traditions
#57. Kibbeh at Zait & Zaatar
#56. Chicago Dog at Portillo's
#55. Persian Buffet at Irvine's Wholesome Choice
#54. Anything at night at Joe's Italian Ice
#53. Salteñas at Rollie's Bakery
#52. Iskender Kabob at Doner G
#51. Secret Beer-Battered Fish Burrito at the OG Taco Adobe
#50. Bun Rieu at Kim Huong
#49. Truffle Fries at Andrei's
#48. Monday Night Pizza Special at Pizza Shack
#47. Corn Dog at Disneyland's The Little Red Wagon
#46. Linguini with Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina
#45. Chamoyada at Natural
#44. Meatloaf at Memphis
#43. Paletas at Delicias de México
#42. Omakase at Sushi Shibucho
#41. Odessa Sandwich at Moscow Deli
#40. Tacos de Rajas con Queso at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
#39. Crepes con Caramel at Anepalco's Cafe
#38. "Cobra" Chicken Sandwich at Memphis at the Santora.
#37. Beef Shawerma Plate at Sahara Falafel
#36. Flan at Taleo Mexican Grill
#35. Ahi Poke at Fish Camp
#34. Chao Chow Rice Noodle Soup at Trieu Chau
#33. Sweet Corn Soup at Raya At The Ritz Carlton
#32. Reuben Sandwich at Harry's Deli
#31. Enchilada Combo at Baja Fish Tacos
#30. Torta Ahogada at Los Primos
#29. Beef Panang from Thai Nakorn
#28. Quesadilla de Huitlacoche from Los Chilangos
#27. Haven Burger from Haven Gastropub
#26. Vegetarian Combo Platter at Tana Ethiopian
#25. Pecan-Sea Salt Tarts at Old Vine Cafe
#24. Fish Burrito at Los Cotijas
#23. Quarter, Half, or Whole Chicken at the Surfin' Chicken
#22. Kheema Dosa at Dosa Place
#21. Falafels at Kareem's Restaurant
#20. Hakata Ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi
#19. Sausage at Sabatino's
#18. Deep Fried Fish with Mango Salad at Thai Nakorn
#17. Mexican Teriyaki Bowl at Mos 2


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