[This Hole-In-the-Wall Life] Miracle of the Tacos at El Bukanas

Gentle readers, I have found our salvation from this annus terribilis: EL BUKANASin Santa Ana is truly a Godsend, another place besides Huntington Beach’s Tacos El Chavito that sells 50-cent tacos. It’s a Miracle of the Tacos at a time when it’s virtually impossible to find the simple Mexican foodstuff for less than a dollar. The taco stand makes you work for its blessing, though: sandwiched between auto shops and with no discernible address or phone number, possessing only three parking spots, with three booths inside and a couple of sticky tables outside, each covered with umbrellas proclaiming 50 CENT TACOS. Here, you’ll find your new Communion.

The tacos are tiny but filling—a corn tortilla packed with as much meat as possible, then sprinkled with cilantro and onions. Despite the humble environs, the ingredients remain top-notch; the carne asada, in particular, is all beef and no fat. Three of them can easily fill you, but you can pig out knowing that the final bill will come out to less than $10, even if you order 20. The seating is so close to the kitchen the cooks hand you your order; you can reach it from the booth just by stretching a bit. Each taco comes with a couple of pickled onions and carrots for a tart counterbalance, and you get to choose from the fiery salsa bar: red, green, or a blisteringly hot habanero.

There are some quirks with El Bukanas. They only offer four meats for their tacos—carne asada, birria, tongue and soft-as-butter head meat. The tortas are ridiculously overpriced and owe more to South America and the Caribbean (milanesa, roast pork combined with ham) than the People of the Sun. A shrimp taco with cheese is two bucks; shrimp alone, $3.25. And El Bukanas is one of the few places I know that sells marlin tacos; the smoky, dense fish is a treat and packed into a larger corn tortilla than its al vapor brethren, alongside cheese, cabbage and a creamy fish sauce from heaven.

Finally, another pitch for Stick a Fork In It, the Weekly’s food blog, where Edwin and I have even more fun than we do in these pages. Some of the best posts from last week: me on a segregationist photo collage at a Corner Bakery in Santa Ana, on OC’s best taco-truck salsa and tracking crimes committed at Taco Bells across the nation; Edwin on dangerous edible sex accessories and some bizarre Japanese snack called Every Burger. Visit blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit, and comment away!


El Bukanas, on the corner of Fourth and Townsend streets, Santa Ana. No phone number.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >