I have always considered tacos to be a perfect food since their composition includes most of the major food groups – tortilla, meat, and vegetables – featured together in an easy-to-eat and tasty form.
The truth of their popularity, in fact, is in the numbers. Reportedly, in 2012, people in the United States consumed 4.5 billion tacos. However, tacos are not an American invention.
Historians seem to feel that tacos originated in the silver mining areas of Mexico in the 18th century and gained their name from little pieces of paper wrapped around gunpowder and inserted (detonated) into rock areas to excavate ore. The miners called the little explosives “tacos.”
In Fallbrook, great tacos are plentiful, but for the sake of discussion, I am limiting this week’s choice to three different varieties that stand out in their field.
Fish tacos originated in Baja California (Mexico) and Lenora Vazquez, owner of Rosa’s Mexican Food restaurant in Fallbrook (1075 S. Mission Rd., Suite A) confirmed that hers are made in the original style with Sonoran influence.
Delicious and fresh, at Rosa’s a fish taco begins with two warm and fragrant corn tortillas (for better handling), inside which a nice piece of lightly breaded, deep-fried white fish fillet is placed. The tender fish is topped with freshly shredded cabbage and zesty homemade pico de gallo. A luscious, white (tartar) sauce is drizzled inside to provide moisture and a creamy, delicate flavor. Accompanied by a wedge or two of fresh lime, a quick spritz of citrus makes it a real taste treat!
Seafood lovers also have the option of fresh shrimp tacos at Rosas. “The shrimp tacos are very popular also,” said Vazquez.
Crispy chicken taco
Presenting a perfectly crisp, well-balanced chicken taco is a form of art, in my opinion. At El Jardin Mexican Restaurant in Fallbrook (1581 S. Mission Rd.), one can count on a premium experience at any time. On Wednesdays, tacos are an especially great deal!
“Every Wednesday, our tacos and our house margaritas are only $3 each,” explained owner/manager Jon Large.
One of the best things about the crispy tacos (and other menu items) at El Jardin is that this restaurant does not use lard in its cooking. The delicate and crisp shell is fried in high quality, unsaturated vegetable oil.
Once the tortilla shell is ready, it is filled with freshly cooked and nicely seasoned chicken breast meat that has been shredded. A colorful assortment of fresh toppings, including shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, shredded cheddar and jack cheese, and sliced black olives fill the shell to plump capacity.
Carne asada taco
Bonsall’s little gem, Tekila Cocina Mexicana (5256 S. Mission Rd., Suite 907, River Village) is a delight in cuisine, including its carne asada tacos.
When the order goes into the kitchen, the process starts, truly from the beginning, with a corn tortilla made the old-fashioned way – by hand.
“Our tortillas are as fresh as they can be,” said manager Manny Enriquez.
The chef then takes a portion of sirloin beef that he has already trimmed and marinated (for at least 24 hours) and cooks it to a medium-well status (degree of doneness is optional). When done, he chops it into small squares and places a large portion in the tortilla and the options go from there, depending on the diner’s taste. Marinated red onions, shredded lettuce or cabbage, cheese, guacamole, salsa fresco, and spicy sauces stand ready as accompaniments.
For those who can’t decide what kind of meat they want in their tacos, Enriquez said, “We do a three-taco combination plate that can include one shredded beef taco, one pork carnitas taco, and one chicken or carne asada taco!”
Given the talented chefs that work in Fallbrook and Bonsall at the various Mexican food establishments, there is no need to travel out of town, let alone across the border, to enjoy a flavorful feast!