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Strike-out at Taqueria Torres, Santa Rosa

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At lunchtime Monday it was too blazing hot to sit outside at the taco trucks, even under the tented canopies. This seemed like a good time to check out one of the many taquerias that line Sebastopol Road. The “grand opening” sign at Taqueria Torres attracted my attention.

The décor here is simple – a TV tuned to Mexican soap operas and tables set with green checked cloths. The menu has the typical antijitos, combo plates, and a number of seafood specialties.

I chose the mojarra frito, a whole fried fish. A basket of warm tortilla chips soon arrived along with a chipotle salsa, salsa fresca, and some warm refritos topped with grated parmesan. The chips were very good – so thin and delicate and just the right amount of salt. The chipotle salsa was mildly spiced and tasty. The salsa fresca had hardly any chilis and was made from anemic tomatoes, not acceptable this time of year.

The fried fish was served on a bed of shredded lettuce along with rice and beans and a dollop of sour cream. The fish seemed to be a white bass and was competently fried with a crunchy coating and to the right flaky doneness. However, the fish, rice and beans were all underseasoned, making me reach for the salt shaker, something I rarely do. The rice had no character of its own and the refritos were not much better and had an unnatural orange color. Dousing my food with the various salsas and hot sauces at the table couldn’t save this from being one of the most boring meals in a long while. The warm corn tortillas served on the side were thin and tasted like wood pulp.

The complimentary dessert, a wedge of deep-fried flour tortilla sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and topped with aerosol whipped cream and strawberry jam, offered little consolation.

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