What the frijole is going on at Taco Loco?

I know I’m not the only one who loves Taco Loco. But am I the only one who doesn’t love it as much anymore? (I’m speaking specifically of the Jay street location–I haven’t tried either of the others.) There seems to have been an ownership change–web searches of all the usual suspects are turning up nothing. The wacky decor is gone, the menu is the same, the bar is the same, some of the wait staff are the same, and there is this cocky young manager/chef type who seems to be above taking orders or not have time for it or something.

This is all acceptable. The new hip decor is well done, and the few familiar faces make it easy to stomach the new ones. But the burrito I just had (the Al Pastor) was not as good as it should have been/used to be. Same basic recipe, but a little cooler and a little milder, and most importantly about 60% the size of an Al Pastor of yesteryear or, more precisely, yester-October. What’s going on? And then to add insult to injury they seem to have managed to keep the franchise name, recipes and menu but they’ve lost the branded soda cups! This is more than I can take!! At least they are still a Coca-Cola shop…

Quick Hits: Local Mexican

I was walking downtown yesterday, the wind blowing full throttle, sheeting down fall leaves like Technicolor snowflakes, the ipod playing some intellectual Keith Jarrett piano solo and I thought “Christ, I feel like I’m in some independent film.” So, before I went all Zach Braff and convinced myself I could write a screenplay, I went to go get some tacos, because nothing is more down to earth than some good greezy Mexican food. If you need to shake the cotton loose try any of the following, they’re some of my favorites:

Angels Fresh Mex– 16th and U St.

Yes this is that place you see every time you take the 16th St. exit and head for downtown. And on occasion, you’ve said to yourself, “I should check that place out. It looks just run down enough to be good.” Well, it is run down, and you can only get your food at a walk-up window, but the food is fantastic. The meats used in dishes is so laced with flavor and spices that one can only imagine that they actually feed the hogs cumin and cilantro before they’re slaughtered. Prices are criminally low. Stop the car next time you’re heading downtown.
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Elk Grove Gut Bomb

I don’t know anyone who lives in Elk Grove, so I don’t know who to tell about my latest eating experience. If you know someone in Elk Grove, tell them to go and sup full at Todo un Poco. First of all, the atmosphere is cute and dark and candle lit and does not at all suggest the stucco stripmall in which it actually resides. The service was efficient and polite and the portions make Claim Jumper look like a haven for anorexics. My pasta putanesca, (literally translated (no kidding) whore’s pasta)), was fantastic, with slow roasted meats and plenty of veggies in the hearty sauce. My beautiful companion went for a salmon dish with great flavors and a beautiful presentation.

The hallmark of Todo un Poco though, was its bread.
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“You in Line” at Tortillas?

My encounter at the fine taqueria Tortillas (unfortunate name, but great burritos. It would be like a burger place called “Buns” or, I suppose, an Italian restaurant named “Tomatoes”) tonight with the fam’ was vintage Sacramento. To get there on a workday for early dinner you have to brave the Northbound Howe Ave. rush hour traffic, which is no picnic, but man that pork burrito is worth it. We roll into the joint and are the only ones in line. Now, a family of four basically either has to eat PB&J at home or designate one parent to order food for the group in order to acquire a meal with no fuss, so as I’m standing in line with the baby in her carrier, my wife is taking the toddler (2 1/2 y.o.) to the restroom, I’m conferring with her on what those two ladies would like to eat.

Literally in the middle of that sentence, while I’m standing maybe 3 feet from the cash counter, in busts this very typical Sacramento woman. She gives me the “you in line?” but with that voice that’s maybe twice as loud as it needs to be. “Uh, go ahead” I grumble, and she barges past me and proceeds to order a takeout order for 2 or 3 in that same voice.
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La Fiesta Keeps it Simple

We at the Sac Rag do not claim to be much. We are connoisseurs of nothing. We like what we like and even that is subject to change without notice. But, there is one thing we do know, we love us some Mexican food. And if you find yourself in the Midtown area around lunch time, do yourself a favor and make a stop at La Fiesta Taqueria (1105 Alhambra Boulevard, across from BofA.) The menu speaks for itself. More meat choices than its competitors, a great salsa bar, and fast service. What more could you ask for? Be sure to get there before or after the lunch rush as this place can get busy.