Taqueria Guadalajara Lonchera: Tapatio New Wave
The Mexican state of Jalisco has long governed Mexican culture in Southern California with its vital contributions of mariachi and tequila, its ceaseless migration over the past century, and the popularity of its Chivas de Guadalajara soccer team. But what few people realize is how much Jalisco has also dominated Cal-Mex cuisine. Menudo? Hard-shelled tacos? Taquitos? Enchiladas? All imports from the state, all now staples of every Southern Californian's diet, no longer exciting the masses in this era of regional Mexican dishes and luxe loncheras.
But a funny thing happened over the past year: jaliscienses food is suddenly trendy again, whether it's the shrimp tacos dorados served from Los Angeles' Mariscos Jalisco lonchera that has earned national attention or the raicilla alcohol from the state's hinterlands that reeks of damp earth and can only be found in the dankest cantina or Yelp-iest hipster bar. The foodstuffs at the forefront are the dishes created during the past quarter-century in Jalisco's capital, Guadalajara, and the demand for them is such that local chain Taqueria Guadalajara sells these trends in its brick-and-mortars in Anaheim and SanTana, and it has also opened up a truck in the latter city's downtown to specialize in them.
The lonchera sells regular tacos and burritos, but as with the chain itself, those offerings are merely good. Go for the stuff you've probably never heard of. Indulge in a torta ahogada, a sandwich of carnitas and refried beans in hardened birote (really, a bolillo, but those fresa tapatíos always have to try to class up everything) drowned in a furious red salsa and topped with pickled red onions. If you want to eat lighter, order the tacos dorados, or hard-shelled tacos. These aren't fast-food monstrosities, but rather freshly fried after being stuffed with your choice of beans, potatos or requesón, a ricotta-like, intensely milky type of country cheese. The crunch of the tacos dorados is so great and the accompanying, garlic-heavy ajite salsa so wonderful you'll shake your head in disbelief that these tacos are the direct ancestor to Taco Bell's heresies—you can look it up in my book!
Taqueria Guadalajara Lonchera, On the corner of Sycamore and Walnut streets, Santa Ana. No phone number.
The Taqueria Guadalajara lonchera also sells great raspados, big ol' ice cones that boast of just-made fruit syrups. But no proper tapatío meal is complete without a cup of tejuino, the original kombucha: fermented masa cut with brown sugar and lime ice cream. Funky, electric, chill yet smooth, this is the Jalisco New Wave—and now excuse me, as this zacatecano is going to go to a corner and cry at the idea of tapatíos trumping us yet again.
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