[Hole In the Wall] In Praise of Hot Taco's Goat On Wheels
Let Us Now Praise Goat on Wheels
Before I rave about my latest find, a special announcement of my first food-related appearance: I will hang out in the parking lot of the Fullerton Public Library (353 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, 714-738-6334) on Sept. 16 from 5:30 to around 7 p.m., meeting and greeting you wonderful readers who have provided me with so many tips over the years. Catering the event will be Los Hermanos Lonchera sin Fronteras. Best part? Half of the proceeds go to the Fullerton Public Library. Afterward, I’ll lecture about that other, wabbier column I write. Love literacy: eat mucho.
In honor of this event, here’s another taco-truck treasure: Hot Taco, a lonchera that parks daily outside a Bank of America. Our Best of OC issue last year named it la naranja’s best place to eat a birria taco, an honor I didn’t bestow yet somewhat agree with. Those birria tacos are great—shredded goat meat mixed with cilantro and onions, sharp yet earthy. But the much better option is the birria plate, where you can experience the dish as the Virgin of Guadalupe wants you to.
I understand why birria has never become a gabacho obsession à la pho or even carnitas: The dish is funky. Proper birria is all about the consommé created from stewing the goat for hours on end, meat chunks laden with fat. The birria tacos don’t feature the broth, lest a soggy mess crumble in your hand. The dish features the heaps of meat in a small pool of consommé, so the birria can soak up as much as possible. Sip it, and savor one of the richest broths around: cinnamon, garlic, God knows how many different chiles (your upper lip will sweat a bit), gamy goat, the slickness of boiled fat. Drizzle on some salsa de aceite (oil-based salsa thicker than transmission fluid) to add more heat, and make sure to taste the house red salsa, a curiously sweet-spicy concoction somewhere between chipotle and chile de árbol on the flavor scale. The accompanying beans and rice aren’t really necessary, especially since they occupy valuable plate space.
Best part about this platter? You can create your own tacos. Each order comes with an incredible eight tortillas. Sure, they’re store-bought and the palm-sized variety too many high-end Mexican restaurants use to rip off unassuming customers under the guise of “street” tacos, but still: eight? Love life: eat mucho. And see you on Wednesday!
Hot Taco, corner of 15th and Sycamore streets, Santa Ana. No phone number.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.