WELL LOOKY HERE. It’s a little place called California Tacos [WARNING: their webpage contains shitty background midi and animated gifs. Click at your own risk!]. It’s tacos. FROM CALIFORNIA! And there are surf boards! Wonderful. Wow and their phone number has taco in it, too. Good for them! Good for them.
California Tacos (To Go) popped up a year ago? Two years ago? Three? I’m not sure. But relatively recently. It exists on Skipper and Bearss, and you will often notice a dude standing out front, waving around a surf board like an idiot. I think the plan is to ride the traffic like a wave? I’m not sure. I’m not sure about much of anything these days.
I first went to this place a while back, not long after they opened. And I thought to myself “my god, now here’s a place that will not last long.” The location is pretty crappy for a taco place. But I was proven wrong! It still stands! And I’m happy about that, because this is a pretty cool place. The owner actually came from California, where he used to make tacos. And stuff. Then he decided to bring his taco skillz and love for Jimmy Buffett to Tampa, a city more than ready for a few new Mexican food stands. Huzzah!
The food here has a unique Californian feel (or at least what I assume is a Californian feel). The “restaurant” itself really is less of a restaurant, and more of a pick up window. There are a few tables and chairs out front, and to the side a long counter at which you can stand and eat. Or you can just pick your food up to go. The service wasn’t great today. The guy working was kind of a dick, and I’m pretty sure I was overcharged. But I let it slide because I was in a good mood. Otherwise, he would be dead, and, according to restaurateur law, I would now be the King of California Tacos.
So my friend and I ordered and split a whole bunch of Mexican-themed delights. We also ordered their special “Wipe Out” (just horchata), a sweet, rice-based milky drink that allegedly was invented as a hangover cure. It has a light cinnamon taste to it, and is always delicious. Highly recommended. And then came the food:
First was a quesadilla, served with guacamole and sour cream. It was a pretty big quesadilla, now that I look at it. We chose chicken for the meat (a decision which I would later regret, finding that their chicken was the most bland of their meats, and almost tasting like turkey), and it came with grilled onions and peppers, cheese (of course), and some sort of hot sauce. Everything at California Tacos is cooked fresh, and as a result, this thing was hot! It took a while before we were able to dig into it. It had a pretty good taste, though, despite the lame stringy chicken.
Next up were these tiny “Tijuana Tacos”. Three for three dollars, with a either steak or pork pastor, and onions, cilantro, and “TJ’s Hot Sauce”, on little corn tortillas. We ordered them with the pork, which was delicious! Definitely the best meat they served. Excellent seasoning, and even though the meat itself wasn’t the best, the flavor was more than enough to make it work. The tacos themselves were disappointingly tiny (on a four inch tortilla… yeah those are normal limes not gigantisized ones), but the flavor was so good I would recommend this anyway. Cilantro is always wonderful on any Mexican food, and there was definitely enough to taste it past the tons of onions and the hot sauce, which was also really good.
And last but certainly not least was the “Awesome Burrito”. It was stuffed with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, cabbage, rice and beans, hot sauce, and carne asada. We also added cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, which was an additional dollar. Oh but make sure you order the “Awesome Burrito”, not the “California Burrito”, which uses french fries instead of rice and beans (WHY???). So this thing was pretty huge, and densely packed. All the flavors blended together pretty well, and were nicely accented by the steak (which was chewy, but again, well seasoned). The hot sauce was nice and spicy, and got my nose running. Kudos, California Tacos.
The tacos were best of the three items, but the burrito was pretty great too. It occurs to me only now that they claim their fish (tempura grouper) was voted “number one” in San Diego, and that I should have tried it. I just never think to order a fish taco! What an altogether ridiculous invention! Oh well, I’ll try it next time.
And there likely will be a next time, even with the mildly crappy service, and having paid 20 bucks for the meal, which I think is a bit much for this type of food. Not to mention that it wasn’t supposed to be that much!!! Arg. Oh well. You win this round, California Tacos!!