>> Tacos El Gordo | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 9 December 2019

Tacos El Gordo

Even the fucking CBP likes Tacos El Gordo.

Do you ever hear about something so good and for so long, that eventually it just gets filed away in the brain and never tried? This was the case until a recent brief trip to San Diego finally remedied the situation. With one new location downtown and two in Chula Vista, the chain is so easy to enjoy, depending on the length of the lines for adobada and carne asada.

In its 21 years of life in San Diego (and almost 50 in Tijuana), Tacos El Gordo has reached essential status. You would think the heart and soul of Tijuana-style tacos would be easy to replicate so close to the border and in Southern California in general, but as with everything the scene takes on a life of its own and goes elsewhere.

If you happen to come to Tacos El Gordo on H Street during a rare off hour, you might be bewildered by the amount of open space in the entry, seemingly unused. Normally this is crammed with humanity and multiple lines, some longer and more crooked than others. To be sure, the lines near the trompo and for carne asada are always hefty, and this should guide a meal for any beginner.

It should be stated that despite its casual feeling, Tacos El Gordo is not messing around. They recently had to close a location because they lacked the necessary amount of skilled taqueros to cook their meats. It is not a job that just anyone can handle. If you get the chance, watch the carne asada over the flame or the trompo fire being constantly adjusted as needed. There is a reason that each and every location has the same high level of quality.

If a meal can ever live up and surpass such lofty expectations, Tacos El Gordo is that meal. The system of lining up at each taquero is best navigated after the experience of a few visits, but ultimately is just fine. Bring a few friends, pool your resources, scout a line each, and dreams are within reach.

Shove some money down each station's brightly colored tip jar and prepare for some royal treatment.

When eating tacos here there are many things that set them apart, starting with the fresh little tortillas that are still warm from the station creating them. Tacos de adobada ($2.60 c/u, above) are a natural place to start, what the place is known for above all else, and just such a pleasure. They slather each with that legendary creamy runny avocado salsa that could never be replicated in a hundred attempts in your own kitchen.

The basic red and green salsas are also delicious in their own right, making sure every last bit of taste that reaches your tongue is of the highest quality. These can be applied to other selections like the taco de tripa ($2.60, below), an ultra-crispy and clean rendition of intestines piled high on two tortillas.

Tacos El Gordo also knows local history, and prepares what could be considered the National Dish of San Diego. You saw that steak being grilled while you ordered those tacos, so it was only natural to throw in an order of carne asada fries ($3.75 for a small portion, below) to round off the night.

The two differences between here and other places is the quality of the meat and another slather of that beautiful avocado cream sauce. A few scraggly afterthoughts of cheddar find their way on top, but these do not mean anything in the end. The salsa roja combines very well with the everything else on this if you don't mind some dirty fingers and probably a few stains in your lap.

Someone who decided to go to university in Cincinnati, Ohio really starts to regret their life decisions when these dishes are almost devoured. It is no wonder that San Diego has a good reputation as a town to get a good education. Nourishment is key.

Tacos El Gordo. After a bite or two you start looking around at your dining companions with distressed looks because the food is so good. Come alone and you'll strike up conversations with the neighboring booth. It is just too fucking delicious to be quiet.

CHULA VISTA California
689 H Street

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