Taco dulce con piña, Takesos y Papas, TijuanaEXPAND
Taco dulce con piña, Takesos y Papas, Tijuana
Bill Esparza

Takesos y Papas: Tijuana Style Tacos go Upscale

When Tacos Salceados (sauciers) appeared back in 2007--known by the locals as Tacos La Ermita (the street where it's located)--tijuanenses had no idea they'd become hosts to the coolest taqueria in the Milky Way. This is a unique street food presentation found only in Tijuana, and the envy of everyone north and south of the border who ever tried to pimp out a taco.

Every message needs some disciples and Marcos Flores--the guy that was in charge the kitchen at Tacos Salceados--is the chosen one. Marcos served as captain of the kitchen and sous chef in the line-style operation at Salceados. In the middle of 2011 he went solo and opened Takesos y Papas, taking the salceados style of tacoing with him. A year later, Flores has refined his technique, developed his own salsas, and has stayed true to his goal of delivering a fine product and service one taco at a time. He left his old gig so he could make better tacos--period.         

The Plaza Monarcha mall is a low-rent kiddie park parading as a mall, with a food court that happens to house one of the most chingon taquerias around. It's not easy to get here but well worth the trip.

The proprietary salsas and creams are important to this design of taco, which takes a northern surf 'n' turf tradition in respect to proteins and wets them with various chile, fruit, and nut salsas to impart a stewed texture more akin to the south.

Chiles güeros, Takesos y Papas
Chiles güeros, Takesos y Papas
Bill Esparza

All condiments are set out in small batches to maintain freshness, moisture, and cleanliness. The pickled vegetables are served julienne style and the Baja-style chiles güeros are blistered, seasoned and immersed in lime juice and soy sauce--they're off the charts delicious.

Taco NY con camaron, Takesos y PapasEXPAND
Taco NY con camaron, Takesos y Papas
Bill Esparza

The New York con camaron, or New York steak with shrimp is a surf and turf dream taco--you can order is with either corn tortillas, or hand rolled flour tortillas. I swing both ways. The local land and sea luxury combo sits atop a bed of melted cheese and is dressed with a bit of cream, a fan of sliced avocado, and a light salsa of chile guajillo.

Salmon seems an illogical choice given all the amazing Baja seafood products, but it's flesh is a perfect surface for a splash of cream and almond salsa.  

Taco de jalapeño, Takesos y PapasEXPAND
Taco de jalapeño, Takesos y Papas
Bill Esparza

The taco de jalapeno can be enjoyed by itself, or you can add a protein--like the rules of the street, the taco is yours to conceive--you just have to ask. The taco looks innocent enough, but a whole jalapeno with Takesos y Papas wicked salsa habanera is as deceptive as the teenage satin-jacketed girls on Av. Revolucion years ago that would offer you roses while one of them picked your pocket.

Plan for a long lunch and bring some friends to put together a taco tasting, but make sure to get the items that are unique to the salceados style of tacos. Commence engagement of salivary glands!

El famoso quesataco, Takesos y PapasEXPAND
El famoso quesataco, Takesos y Papas
Bill Esparza

The quesataco is a 180-degree turn on the northern quesataco--here, the ingredients are deposited in a fried cheese envelope that Marcos Flores griddles until it's smooth as glass. You can choose any protein for your quesataco, but simpler is better. It's a brilliant creation, and come on, fried cheese?--orale! You can have it by itself or on a tortilla.

The taco dulce con piña will be your last round--a rare dessert taco that is a quesataco with sweet sauces: mango, strawberry, and raspberry with bits of pineapple and a sprinkle of chopped pecans. Add a savory contrast of steak, or shrimp--you'll delight in the delicate balance of flavors.  

Salsa lesson, Takesos y PapasEXPAND
Salsa lesson, Takesos y Papas
Bill Esparza

Takesos y Papas is light years ahead of the great taco rush these past few years, and it's 100% Tijuanense. Forget about those cheesy taco books, and corporate magazine spreads--the future of the upscale taqueria is right here in a Tijuana mall food court.      

Takesos y Papas is located in the Plaza Monarcha mall food court next to the Cinépolis movie theater. Plaza Monarcha, local C-89. 7 days a week from 12PM-9PM. 011-52-664-361-5407. 

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