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PurpleDingo99

How shady is too shady?

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I don't know about the rest of the country, but it's common knowledge around here that the best Mexican food comes from the shadiest places.

Down the street from my college (in Orange, CA) is perhaps the shadiest Mexican restaurant I have ever seen. Appearances aside (a glorified roach-coach with a cluster of crappy tables under a tattered awning) the place is called El Taco. The reason I mention this place, however, is the fact that this place proudly offers 69 cent "beef" tacos. Personally, I wouldn't touch the place with a ten foot pole but all my hometown friends think I'm nuts.

So, would you eat at El Taco?

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Sure, but I'd probably go for their lengua tacos... :raz:

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Now see, they can sell their tacos for only $0.69 because they don't have to spend all that money on ambience.

While on vacation in Colorado Springs a month ago, their local paper's restaurant reviewer visited a "mobile unit/lonchera" that parks in a parking lot and caters primarily to "guest workers" in the area.

here's the review...

Now, admittedly, the going rate for a carnitas taco from this truck is $1.25, but who knows what the standard of living is like in Colorado Springs. If I knew the area better while I was out there, I might have sought the place out...nah, knowing me, I'd have ended up at Taco Bell or worse.

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I love the Taco Trucks, Trailers, Buses in my area - some of them even drive from place to place to sell to the workers.

Take a chance, you'll be glad you did.

We even have a "Taco Truck" directory on one of our local food boards here in Portland.

http://portlandfood.org/index.php?showtopic=2456

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o.k. - you got my curiousity up. I'm going to get my dinner there Friday and then I will post my opinion. Is it located on Glassel?

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So, would you eat at El Taco?

If the tacos are tasty.... sure.... I would eat there. And I'll guess that I'd be getting a better and safe product than I could get on any Taco Bell "Value Menu".

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If they are busy with rapid turnover and the food is hot and looked good, I would try it.

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This hasn't sat well for me since I read it. My dictionary describes shady (other than out of the sun) as "Of dubious character or honesty." What you describe sounds like poverty, unless you're holding back and there are unsavory things going on. I don't think you mean shady as much as "a dive".

I don't want to make a big deal out of it, just to clarify. It's no crime to poor and try and sell tacos. Tacos and cocaine, yes, but tacos, no, even on rickety chairs.

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When you mentioned "roach-coach" an image from a snippet of "How Clean is Your House?" came back to haunt me: dead, splintered roaches encrusted in a thick layer of grease inside a microwave oven. I hope it's not that way there; ambience doesn't matter otherwise. (p.s. they boiled lemon slices in a big bowl of water in the microwave for a few minutes to loosen the grease and clean it up. But I still wouldn't eat from the microwave unless it went through a few cycles of Lysol...)

I'm inclined to agree with Dr. Sconzo's good rule-of-thumb.

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This hasn't sat well for me since I read it. My dictionary describes shady (other than out of the sun) as "Of dubious character or honesty." What you describe sounds like poverty, unless you're holding back and there are unsavory things going on. I don't think you mean shady as much as "a dive".

I don't want to make a big deal out of it, just to clarify. It's no crime to poor and try and sell tacos. Tacos and cocaine, yes, but tacos, no, even on rickety chairs.

I think you're jumping to conclusions. It sounded like the OP was wondering if the meat in those tacos was of dubious quality given the price.

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I don't know about the rest of the country, but it's common knowledge around here that the best Mexican food comes from the shadiest places.

Down the street from my college (in Orange, CA) is perhaps the shadiest Mexican restaurant I have ever seen. Appearances aside (a glorified roach-coach with a cluster of crappy tables under a tattered awning) the place is called El Taco. The reason I mention this place, however, is the fact that this place proudly offers 69 cent "beef" tacos. Personally, I wouldn't touch the place with a ten foot pole but all my hometown friends think I'm nuts.

So, would you eat at El Taco?

So, "all [your] hometown friends" eat at this place but you won't touch it with a ten foot pole? I'm really curious as to whether or not your opinion of your friends' opinions extends to other matters as well.

I don't know if your local hometown newspaper publishes the results of the weekly restaurant cleanliness inspections, but mine does. "Shady" as relates to health inspections seems to have no correlation to supposed "nice" restaurants at all.

Some of the best Mexican food I've ever had has been served to me in classy and expensive restaurants, like Fonda San Miguel in Austin and Frontera Grill in Chicago. And some of the worst food of any kind I've ever had has been served to me in classy and expensive restaurants, as well.

So sign me up on the list of folks that think that whether or not the food is any good has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with how elegant and expensive, or how "crappy and shady," are the surroundings.

I have, however, noticed a distinct trend in the quality of the food in family-owned restaurants, which are often not the shiniest and sleekest of places, especially when they're first getting started.

And if I had a bunch of "hometown friends" that recommended a certain place, I'd either try it...

Or go get a new bunch of friends that I trusted more.

Oh, and PS. I don't know what kind of beef is in the tacos, but most tacos only have a couple spoonsful of whatever is the meat. And then you've got a tortilla or two (and if this place is really authentic, they might even be the small ones), a little salsa, maybe a sprinkle of onion, cilantro, lettuce, etc. Not particularly expensive ingredients, you know. Especially if the meat is hamburger, and given their low overhead, the .69 wouldn't give me cause for concern at all.

Although if you just want to pay more, I'm sure they would gratefully accept it.

:biggrin:


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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2 thoughts. One, the 69 cent beef taco may be a draw to get people in just like the 99 cent Chinese steam table places. Their other offerings may be more in line with the common $1/taco I see in Los Angeles. Second, if the place is busy and the customers seem to be ordering quickly that leads me to believe they are repeaters and I say go for it.

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o.k. - you got my curiousity up.  I'm going to get my dinner there Friday and then I will post my opinion.  Is it located on Glassel?

Ok, I need some help here. I assumed you meant the University just north of the traffic circle. I drove around on all of the side streets in the area and couldn't find it. Where exactly is it located?

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I dont like the term "shady" either, It is not a nice thing to say in my opinion :sad:

while the taco trucks, the tiny Taqueria's and the little Mom and Pop restaurants...are in low rent buildings or step vans ..."shady" sounds criminal or bad.....such a wrong word to use for a place usually run by families who put their heart, soul and sometimes an entire family's income .nto these places hoping to make it here! They support themselves and family that live here... and many folks send money home to support another family on what they earn here...and they do this by selling great homemade fast food at really low prices! So you may have to travel out of your "comfort zone" to get there but it is well worth it!

it is like any place ..even the upscale joints..if it is sullen and empty day after day...if the food does not move ..don't eat there ..but if it is cheerful, busy and the food is moving ..in spite of the run down appearance of the building ..step inside and see what a score you just found! .

..people come here ...use what they have to build what they can and then turn out amazing food for such great prices...there are great "ethnic" food joints constantly popping up in tiny spaces...or some (like the Salvadoran place where I plan to eat today) that have been there and overlooked by people who are not aware..that do a wonderful business seelling good quality food at very low prices... ...where most people would never see a restaurant never happening..other people see a dream and plenty of room .. they may be squeezed into cubbies in very low rent areas..but dont be concerned just go and check them out! there is some good cooking going on in these places ..buy people who actually eat it!

much better to have someone cooking great food in a tiny kitchen....and selling it to you for a terrific price ...than getting less food for more money from a person who could care less about what you are eating selling you manufactured "product" at a fast food chain

that is for sure!

sorry for the rant ...who let me post today anyway?


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

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I've been told that the word shady has a different meaning to younger people and it's not as strong as it is to someone who remembers Watergate, The Brady Bunch and mood rings.

But you young folks should know, shady has a darker implication. It doesn't mean seedy or cheap or even just dubious.

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You know how many items on a Taco Bell menu are under 99 cents? And they have a fancy POS system. Don't be worried about that hard-working family in el coche de cucharachas. Worry about the 17 year old popping a zit and fondling the lettuce at your local fast food sludge pit while the manager smokes weed in the backroom.

btw, NOLA loves Mexicans, really they do....

http://portlandfood.org/index.php?showtopic=4954

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In the Houston area, mobile taco vendors are everywhere.

And the majority of them reek of filth.

I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

The city is doing absolutely nothing about enforcing their regulations.

No way!

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In the Houston area,  mobile taco vendors are everywhere.

And the majority of them reek of filth.

I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

The city is doing absolutely nothing about  enforcing their regulations.

No way!

Again with the ten foot pole!!.....is there magic in a ten

foot pole when it comes to mobilized taco vendors??? Would I use a ten foot shaft to avoid, say, bad Italian food? Or a ten foot cylinder to keep Macdonalds burgers at bay??

Or, if I can't find a ten foot pole, would a 6 foot swede or a five foot Estonian work?? Just wondering. :wacko:

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In the Houston area,  mobile taco vendors are everywhere.

And the majority of them reek of filth.

I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

The city is doing absolutely nothing about  enforcing their regulations.

No way!

Again with the ten foot pole!!.....

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

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In the Houston area,  mobile taco vendors are everywhere.

And the majority of them reek of filth.

I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

The city is doing absolutely nothing about  enforcing their regulations.

No way!

"Again with the ten foot pole!!.....is there magic in a ten

foot pole when it comes to mobilized taco vendors??? Would I use a ten foot shaft to avoid, say, bad Italian food? Or a ten foot cylinder to keep Macdonalds burgers at bay??

Or, if I can't find a ten foot pole, would a 6 foot swede or a five foot Estonian work?? Just wondering. "

Chefsteban awesome words!!!! Words are the most important thing in life and how they are used is even more important!

I have been to Huston and had tacos (as well as other great food) from the taco trucks there ..fantastic tacos ...along with other foods that are of the day...

an entire meal for $3! come on... when traveling how can not beat that with a 10 foot poll? ...no reek I am not sure what you are smelling or seeing .....just very good ..very fast food ..not to mention some great conversations and advice on where to go ..get this ..to buy and eat wonderful food in the city!

If there is a line at a taco truck you are bound to see me in it as well!

I adore menudo and posole sometimes on Saturday these trucks have a pot of it going and there may not even be a sign so ask ..and for sure ...count me in for a bowl with all the topings!!!

does a 10 foot poll keep you safe I wonder? I have worked in high end places that dumped bleach water on food and called it fresh...always astounding to me that someone will dunk an old chicken in bleach water then cook it up and serve it ..then charge an arm and a leg...

personally some of my best recipes have come from these places and I have learned to cook things I would have never known existed if I kept myself 10 feet away from people :smile:

I like being close up ...you learn so much, are nurtured and get fed so very well ...if you take your barriers down ....


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

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We have quite a few taco trucks around and about. I want to point out though, that there are dirty and clean ones - but they are invariably well worn and aged.

I think that since the advent of the sterile fast food joint - stainless, plastic, bright flourescent light - many people equate new with clean.

A very old and well worn piece of equipment can be quite clean and sanitary - it's just old.

My favorite Peruvian comes out of a place so unlikely on the face of it many would not dream of eating there. It is in a strip mall that a major supermarket chain abandoned, then a hurricane came along and did horrible wind damage, and there are only five businesses there. A pawn shop, a hair dresser, a day care, an insurance company and this Peruvian restaurant. Once you step inside, sure it is well worn and tacky - but oh the food is amazing! The staff addresses me as "Mommy" (Mommy and Poppy are terms of affection and respect, much like sir and ma'am in the south), they politely overlook my poor spanish, always have a smile, and the food is wonderful and authentic. Everything in the place is older and well worn - but not a speck of dust to be found. And, CHEAP!

The South American ladies go in and sit in the afternoons eating pastries, drinking coffee and watching the soaps. I have made some very good friends.

Try it. Nothing ventured, ya know.

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When I think of a "shady" taqueria I think of a place where, after eating, you find yourself waking the up the next morning missing your wallet and a kidney because the guy behind the counter marked you for a stranger/gringo/strange gringo and (here comes another old guy term) slipped you a mickey.

DC is sadly lacking in Mexican places -- divey, shady or otherwise -- but this winter my wife and I had a chance to go to Mexico on her company's dime. We were interned in one of those resort hotels that have been constructed to keep as much of Mexico on the other side of the property line as possible, lest the tourist be put off, but they did deliver a bottle of tequila to the room every morning. Usually there were meetings and foot massages and networking with the co-workers to do during the day but one morning (well, actually, more than one morning) we got into the free tequila and decided to cab into Puerto Vallarta proper, where we had been led to believe on could actually find Mexico. We were a block of the ocean, tourist central, and we found a little hole in the wall selling stuff we'd never seen before -- it was, the proprietor and the lady from the nail place next door, the latter two a little surprised to see us there. What a great meal for nuthin'. Sadly, what with the tequila and all, we lost our notes at some point during the day. The dish I remember best was an interesting little stir-fry -- strips of hard corn tortilla, some kind of meat, crema (I'm guessing now) tomato, wonderful spicing. Later, after walking around enough to get our appetite back and get away from the tourists areas, we found some guy selling barracuda (!) tacos about the size of a silver dollar pancake on a table set up outside his house. Inside, his wife was watching telenovellas and selling beer from a cooler. We sat on a bench near a dry creek and the fish and lime and corn and cold beer came together so wonderfully we had to go back for more.

The two best meals I had that whole trip, two of the most memorable this year (if only I could remember). Good thing I forgot that you're not supposed to eat street food in Mexico.

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The dish I remember best was an interesting little stir-fry -- strips of hard corn tortilla, some kind of meat, crema (I'm guessing now) tomato, wonderful spicing.

Sounds like chilaquiles.

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In the Houston area,  mobile taco vendors are everywhere.

And the majority of them reek of filth.

I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

The city is doing absolutely nothing about  enforcing their regulations.

No way!

"Again with the ten foot pole!!.....is there magic in a ten

foot pole when it comes to mobilized taco vendors??? Would I use a ten foot shaft to avoid, say, bad Italian food? Or a ten foot cylinder to keep Macdonalds burgers at bay??

Or, if I can't find a ten foot pole, would a 6 foot swede or a five foot Estonian work?? Just wondering. "

Chefsteban awesome words!!!! Words are the most important thing in life and how they are used is even more important!

I have been to Huston and had tacos (as well as other great food) from the taco trucks there ..fantastic tacos ...along with other foods that are of the day...

an entire meal for $3! come on... when traveling how can not beat that with a 10 foot poll? ...no reek I am not sure what you are smelling or seeing .....just very good ..very fast food ..not to mention some great conversations and advice on where to go ..get this ..to buy and eat wonderful food in the city!

If there is a line at a taco truck you are bound to see me in it as well!

I adore menudo and posole sometimes on Saturday these trucks have a pot of it going and there may not even be a sign so ask ..and for sure ...count me in for a bowl with all the topings!!!

does a 10 foot poll keep you safe I wonder? I have worked in high end places that dumped bleach water on food and called it fresh...always astounding to me that someone will dunk an old chicken in bleach water then cook it up and serve it ..then charge an arm and a leg...

personally some of my best recipes have come from these places and I have learned to cook things I would have never known existed if I kept myself 10 feet away from people :smile:

I like being close up ...you learn so much, are nurtured and get fed so very well ...if you take your barriers down ....

OHMYGOD Hummingbirdkiss!!!! You like posole and Menudo???? I'm in love

:wub:

Come to me my love....we will make such sweet tacos together.........


Edited by chefsteban (log)

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"OHMYGOD Hummingbirdkiss!!!! You like posole and Menudo???? I'm in love

Come to me my love....we will make such sweet tacos together........."

chefsteban: Yesterday, 06:03 PM

YES!!! I love them! .....and feel it is my obligation to taste every bowl I can ...every place I can before I die :wub:

you are so funny!!! I have never had a sweet taco..now a sweet tamale yes ..those I have had ...but a sweet taco? ...enlighten me :smile:


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

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