Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Tale of Two Tacos

It seems as though every trip we make takes on some sort of theme. Never intentional, rather the patterns of our behavior coalesce around some goal that assumes the raison d’etre for us being where we are. In Barcelona it was finding as many Roman ruins as we could. In Sevilla, trying to take as many Semana Santa processions as passed through our neighborhood. Paris, finding all the paintings we could think of in The Louvre. And here, in San Carlos, it’s about finding Tacos.
As previously reported, we really like JJ’s Tacos for the ambience and the food. And the dancing on Music Night. Having had such a blast this previous Tuesday, dinner last night (Friday) could only be in one place, given that the band was once again playing. So off we went after a disappointing sunset (adequate clouds, but no color) to that taco shack by the main drag. JJ has a big collection of license plates, nailed to the beams supporting the palapa and we brought him one from our humble burg. He was pleased, and he grabbed MLW and started dancing to the Norteña. Being 5’5”, he had his bald head planted squarely in MLW’s bosom as they did a few turns in front of the bar. I sat and had a good laugh.

Fish tacos once again and a couple of cold beers. I added a taco de pierna this time, stewed pork leg, and it was a nice complement to our regular fare, so regular in fact that JJ knew the order before we said it. The crowd on this night was considerably more subdued unfortunately and as it turned out we were the only people dancing. On returning to our table, one old guy told us we looked wonderful out there, a kind gesture and certainly a lie. But appreciated nonetheless. A couple more beers and when the few people there started to shuffle out, we did too.

Now the other night we had intended to try a nice place, Tony’s, but they had been closed. So today we decided to head over for lunch, knowing they’d be open. Overnight the temperature had dropped and today was a solid 10° cooler than yesterday. A welcome change considering that it is December and mild temperatures are one of the things that drag us down here every year. The only downside – wind, stiff and consistent.

On the way to town we stopped at the annual Shrimp Festival where all the local restaurants turn out to serve up their particular crustacean specialties. We weren’t interested in that, rather we’d heard there would be some art and curio sellers along for the ride. We picked up a very beautiful serape, dark turquoise with hummingbirds, something I had in mind since I saw one in Old Town Albuquerque on a Christmas shopping trip last week. This one was much more beautiful and half the price so it didn’t take much thinking to hand over the $30 the guy was asking. The festival though was another story, crawling with Snowbirds waiting in line to buy tickets for the food and drink. We beat a hasty retreat.

There was a restaurant here, many years ago called Tony’s that was a favorite of ours. Like so many, it disappeared after a spell and unlike so many others, it never had a second incarnation. We were hoping that this new Tony’s might be it, but it isn’t as it appears to be owned by an American expat. We parked, went in and grabbed a table out of the wind which really was howling down off the mountain and straight onto the patio. The waiter brought us chips, two kinds of salsa fresca, a pot of guacamole and another pot of hot sauce. We ordered, what else, tacos; MLW choosing birria de res (stewed beef) and uno de pollo (chicken.) My hopes for lamb were dashed when I discovered the birria de borrego was not available today. So I opted for a pair of birria de res and one pescado frito. The lack of lamb really crushed my spirit, because for years I’ve been thinking about stopping at a place we pass on the way down, in the town of Santa Ana that supposedly specializes in Borrego. But that stop is never convenient (since we always just want to get where we’re going) and so today, in my own backyard, the opportunity presented itself. But alas, I’ll have to wait.

The food turned out to be superb, probably the best tacos we’ve had. The dish was fried to perfection and filled the little flour tortillas to the edge. The birria was just as wonderful, moist, a tiny bit spicy, clearly very fresh and with just the right amount of grease to drip off your chin. We sat in the breeze and stuffed our faces to the mild refrain of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Food, Reggae, Diet Coke and good company – the recipe for the ideal early afternoon.




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