Tacos de Mexicali is one of those places that I pass at least once every week or so, always reminding myself to visit one day. Well....one day finally arrived a couple of months ago.
To be perfectly honest, I really don't know what "Mexicali tacos" are....what comes to mind are vampiras, like what Ed from Yuma had, but I was pretty sure this was not that. I would have heard about it sooner if that was true.
The interior of the restaurant is bright but a bit worn, but I appreciated a the simple menu, a single page.
The one person I knew who had actually visited Tacos de Mexicali told me that I just had to have the lengua, which I thought was strange since he barely has anything else other than polla asado and carne asada....in fact, he once told me he "hated cabeza and lengua".
So I ordered a Taco de Lengua ($2.95) and Taco de Cabeza ($2.70). The tacos come to your table with nothing but the meat, It's then up to you to dress them as you wish at the salsa bar. The salsas were routine, except for the spicy guacamole which I enjoyed for some reason.
I had requested corn tortillas, but these were obviously flour. It was a happy mistake since the tortillas had a nice stretch to them.
One bite of the lengua and I knew why the dude liked them so much. In terms of tongue, this was very mild in flavor. I thought that the condensed beefy, almost offal flavor of the tongue was missing. In those terms, it was really well prepared, soft and tender. For me it seemed like everything I enjoy about tongue had been cooked out of it. The slight waxiness, the almost luxurious richness was missing.
Ditto the cabeza.
This could have been stewed and shredded short ribs, or chuck.
I guess I could recommend this as "beginner's lengua and cabeza". It just seemed that all the redeeming qualities of tongue and beef head had been removed. If that's talent and skill, I'll tip my hat to the cook, but it's not my thing.
Still, I returned a couple of weeks later. I thought I'd try the Taco Al Pastor ($2.70) and the Carne Asada ($2.95).
The Al Pastor, was pretty much Adobado. The marinade had a powderiness to it and the flavor was very one dimensional with just some heat from chilies. I would have enjoyed it more if it had some sweetness and acid to it. At least it was much more tender than the carne asada.
A word on the tortillas. This time I did receive the corn tortillas. These are quite refined and thin, though the masa flavor is quite clear and clean. It seems almost a bit too processed.
In terms of price-point it's not bad, but really not my cup of tea. The flavors are a bit too mild and tame for my tastes.
For another view of Tacos de Mexicali please read Mary's post.
Tacos De Mexicali
3450 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104