Las Tortugas Grill Is Quick Like a Turtle

Even though he doesn't believe it, I'm a fan of Orange County Register food critic Brad A. Johnson ever since his days at Angeleno and Riviera magazines. His writing style is painterly, focusing on everything from the food to the ambiance to the pedigree of the chefs; he knows the buzz restaurants and the stand-bys. More important, the James Beard-winning writer a conversation-starter, for better or worse: that he was named America's worst food critic two years in a row in a national contest only means that OC restaurateurs read him obsessively and don't like when he's not slobbering in praise.

That said, we pull no punches when writing about Brad, and never was that more apparent than a couple of weeks ago (okay, there was that time we put him on our Scariest People list . . .). He had just come out with a list of his 10 favorite tacos in OC, and while Brad picked some great spots (Taquerias El Zamorano and Zamora, Carnitas Los Reyes), he also immediately undercut the list's validity by proclaiming, “This year, I'm not including any trucks or places that otherwise don't provide a comfortable place to sit—at a proper table, with at the very least a covered awning—where I can enjoy the tacos while they're still hot.”

¿Que que? Maybe I was a bit harsh in calling him a taco racist, but his segregation was a damn shame because Johnson should challenge the Reg's notoriously retrograde readers to get off their Mission Viejo Barcaloungers and head to SanTana, especially Las Tortugas Grill. This taco truck is legendary not only because it's one of the few to succeed outside of the city's Lonchera Lane—roughly on Main Street between 15th Street and Warner Avenue—but also for being one of the last trucks not discovered by gabachos. The offerings are simple—tacos, tortas, gorditas the circumference of plates—but delicious, drawing all parts of SanTana life. It's a treasure everyone in OC should enjoy.

Go for it, Brad: Challenge your paper's idiot readers! Be the critic we know you to be, not a French fry-obsessed parody of yourself. . . . HA!

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