Taco Mesa - Orange
Even before I write this post, my colleague Gustavo Arellano has me beat. He's found 50-cent tacos at El Bukanas in Santa Ana. So if you've already jumped at that tip, you might as well stop reading here. You'll have to pay twice that for the tacos I'm about to write about, at Taco Mesa's Taco Tuesday. And of course, the deal's only available one evening a week.
Besides that, the Taco Tuesday at Taco Mesa isn't news. The fact is that this Orange County-born chain has been doing it for ages like all other taco joints who have used the catchy alliteration to their advantage*. The term is a taco purveyor's gold mine. Think about it: Are there any other foods that has a day of the week so readily associated to it?
If "Manicotti Mondays" or "Weiner Wednesdays" has been coined, it hasn't caught on.
So while I wait for some enterprising restaurant industry marketer to introduce "Sushi Saturdays" into the lexicon, the crowd of people I encountered at the Orange branch of the chain knew exactly what they were there for: dollar tacos and all the free escabeche they can eat.
The latter has always been the one thing that I loved about the Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa chain -- razor wire-sharp, explosively colorful, and the best application of cauliflower that I've ever seen.
Taco fillings range from chicken, to al pastor, to shredded beef. Patrons range from Chapman University hipsters, to other bargain-hunting non-cooks like myself.
Chicken tacos are wrapped in two kinds of colored tortilla and taste half-way between a deep-fried tacos dorado and one that uses comal-warmed tortillas. I can't tell which one it is, but I can tell you that they're greasy, slightly crunchy, and sprinkled with the mild feta tang of crumbled queso fresco. It's that grease that fills you up.
The al pastor is lean, well-seasoned, tinged to an angry shade of red. And in it I found something I've never found in an al pastor: tiny cubes of pineapple. I loved its addition. Fruit, especially acidic ones like apples and pineapples, always work well with pork, and it's especially welcome in these tacos.
However, I cannot say that it is the best al pastor that I've ever had. That title still belongs to the al pastors sold by a Bellflower hole-in-the-wall called Tacos Jalisco #2, which, to my knowledge, does not offer a Taco Tuesday.
3533 E Chapman Ave # E
Orange, CA 92869
*For more Taco Tuesday deals, check out my buddy Christian's blog post here.
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Veggie Grill - Irvine