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Mar 31, 2007 06:19 AM

Cheap Taco Plate, Pasadena

Where can I get a good, cheap taco plate (rice, beans, a few chips, tacos) in Pasadena? I am thinking about a "to-go" place with outdoor benches-- nothing fancy. By cheap, I mean up to $7, after tax.

I am thinking about:

El Burrito Express
Tortas Mexico
King Taco (again)
Los Tacos
El Toreo
El Metate
The mom and pop shop that Wild Swede likes on Summit and Hammond
The various Pasadena taco trucks-- are they around on the weekend?

I just want a no frills place, that's cheap, with good food (grab a seat, eat there, leave, without full-service). There's a freestanding hole-in-the-wall on Colorado and Rosemead Bl. (?) that I've been meaning to check out. Is that El Burrito Express?

What about that liquor store next to Pie N Burger? I noticed they sell tacos, etc. Is tbeir food any good? Thanks. Any thoughts on the above places would be appreciated.

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  1. That's the place, good stuff as i recall, near the Cost Plus? 1 block west of Rosemead, north side of street.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Burger Boy

      Thanks, Burger Boy. That might be lunch today. :)

      1. re: katkoupai

        After tutoring last night, I was hungry. So I thought about this post and as I was just a few blocks away, I decided to stop at "that place right by Cost Plus on Colorado". Okay, first, it is called "El Super Burrito". I arrived around 7:45. There were two people sitting eating their food at the cute mosaic-tiled tables. One other person was standing at the window placing their order. I read over the offerings and read the review that was taped in the "pick-up window". The reviewer mentioned some items but specifically stated that the tamale was good. Sold! I ordered the #19 - Tamal and Soft Taco since I also wanted to try my standard, the Al Pastor. The dish cost $6.79 and came with rice, beans a couple of chips, red & green salsa (I asked for the hottest and then asked for the other) and jalapeno (did not get one jalapeno, but got lots of marinated carrots) and a medium tamarindo. They called my number and I picked it up. I sat at a table and while I ate I watched the people in the karate gym across the street. I took a bite of the Al Pastor and found it left A LOT to be desired. It was extremely dry and greasy at the same time. Not much flavor, either. Even with salt and salsa added. This was left almost untouched on the plate. The tamal was large and covered with a red sauce and cheese. I took a bite of the tamal and was not expecting anything. Wow! It was actually really good in a basic-kinda weird tamale way. The sauce that it was covered with is their enchilada sauce. But, it has a nice kick to it that you do not normally find in enchilada sauce. Also, I am not a fan of tamales that do not have salt in their masa. This masa definitely had salt added and was somewhat flavorful, and had bits of corn kernels in it. The inside was shredded beef which was moist and tender. I have to say - this was the best part of the meal. Now, I wondered if this really was as good as I thought, or if my hunger and/or the fact that I had burned the hell out of my tongue on the soup I made on Sunday (why don't I ever learn??) had something to do with it. So, I ordered another tamal to go and will eat it today for lunch. I asked for extra of the sauce and was obliged. $2.25.
        The rice was bland and oily, but that was quickly remedied with the addition of the red salsa - it became really good and I ate every last bit of it. The beans were your basic canned variety which were not good and got really nasty-looking when it got cold. These stayed on the plate as well.
        All in all, the tamal, I would go back for.
        Prices have gone up ~$1.00

        3631 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA
        "Save Time ~ Phone Ahead" (626) 792-4482

        1. re: WildSwede

          Thanks for checking it out, WildSwede. I'm bummed to hear about the canned refried beans at El Super Burrito. I'm looking for a place where everything from the salsa, to the beans, to the drinks, are made with fresh/real ingredients. The tamale does sound good, though. I have a long way to go to get through this list, so this helps. :)

          1. re: katkoupai

            My favorite taqueria (MFT from now on) makes all their ingredients. Sometimes they have drinks (more so recently) but I think I have only seen Fruit Punch and maybe lemonade(?). I always get the Mexican bottled drinks from the market in front. They do not have refried beans but whole pinto beans which are delicious! Maybe this is where I will go for lunch today and save the tamal for dinner, hmmm.

            1. re: WildSwede

              MFT means that's where you will be going from now on?

              I will check this place out the next time I have the time and opportunity. :)

              1. re: katkoupai

                No, sorry. MFT (my favorite taqueria) = the place on Hammond and Summit. I get tired of writing it out!! ;-)

                  1. re: katkoupai

                    Also, while I was eating, I noticed that across the street and on the other side of the street from the Karate studio, that there was a Carniceria that advertised pupusas on their outside wall. It was called Elizabeth's (or something like that). I am going to try the pupusas there one day (and check out their other offerings). So far, though, the best pupusas I have had can be found at La Caravana on north Lake (just before Washington) in Pasadena.

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      This is good to know. I almost went to La Caravana a few weeks ago, but I decided against it, due to parking issues. I think they may have parking in the back, but I couldn't find street parking at the time. :)

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Sorry, the Carniceria is on the other side of the PARKING LOT from the Karate Studio, not the other side of the street! I have only ever parked on the street when going to La Caravana, so I am unable to speak to whether or not they have parking in back.

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          Okay, thanks for the info. :) Both places sound worth checking out. I haven't had a pupusa in a long time. :)

            2. re: WildSwede

              If you are looking for REAL authentic mexican food, that is a fast food place even better than some restaurants you need to try Pepe's. There is one in Alhambra and Temple City. The beans are the best and almost all the things on the menu are authentic.

              1. re: mrspineapple

                Thank you. I have tried Pepe's in Alhambra. It's pretty good.

        2. I have looked at a few reviews more on past threads, and here are a few other places that I would like to check out (but haven't yet).

          La Estrella-- either one
          Puebla Tacos (three locations in Pas)
          Green St. Taqueria

          My top three places to check out would be:

          Los Tacos
          Puebla Tacos
          El Burrito Express

          Any place that makes fresh chips, salsa, and hopefully agua fresca would be great. I might just have to check each place out, one by one.

          6 Replies
          1. re: katkoupai

            LA ESTRELLA on altadena and foothill rocks. but don't expect rice and beans. this place is pretty authentic.

            get the fish tacos, camarones, and ceviche. all good. all reasonably priced washed down with excellent horchata or hibiscus tea.

            1. re: revets2

              I will take your advice, revets, and try La Estrella for the shrimp tacos. Is the horchata made from powder mix or fresh? Thank you for your suggestion. :)

              1. re: katkoupai

                the shrimp tacos are very good, but i was not recommending them. the camarones served in a styrofoam cup with gazpacho like soup/sauce. that's the one you want to order. have fun. don't know if the horchata is powder or fresh. they dispense it from a drink machine. hope that helps.

            2. re: katkoupai

              The La Estrella on Orange Grove & Garfield - the restaurant one, the one further from the street.. ( there are 2 at same location believe it or not!) - is in my opinion the best of many items in all of pasadena: best carne asada soft taco, best tamale's, best salsa (green or red sauce), and best horchata's in all of Pasadena!

              I'm open to refuters, but you better have tried these first, because I live next to 15 authentic mexican places on Orange Grove (or what I like to call 'Little Tijuana') and this place blows them all away.

              Remember, NOT the la estrella closer to the street, but the one in the back of the plaza at 330 E Orange Grove.

              Highly recommended!

              La Estrella Restaurant
              330 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

              1. re: chuckienorton

                Hey Chuckie, I think the one that is further from the street does not offer their fish tacos or their ceviche (or any fish items iirc) which are what I feel their strongest offerings (although I do really like their al pastor in both taco and burrito form). And their red salsa... I would swim in it if it would not burn my eyeballs!! Have never had their tamales, tho. Which do you recommend? I agree on the horchata! YUM!

              2. re: katkoupai

                Tried Tacos Puebla on Villa a couple of weeks ago, had the carne asada, al pastor, and tripas. If I were rating taco places 1 through 10 (1 being a 35cent taco stand in Baldwin Park that is overpriced and 10 being the heavenly Tacos de Huicho in Bakersfield), I'd give them a 2. Asada was bland, pastor had an off taste, the tripas seemed slimy and underdone. All were wrapped in corn tortillas that had the consistency of moist dough.

              3. I tried the following at Los Tacos in Pasadena (on Fair Oaks near California), with a friend today:

                Carne asada tacos
                Lengua tacos

                Carne asada was pretty good. Lengua was good. Beans and rice were okay. I don't usually eat mole, but my friend said that it was decent and sweet. Salsa-- only okay-- didn't seem homemade. Aquas-- not fresh juice, but decent. Total was about $10 a person or $20 total. Pretty good, although my friend noted that better Mexican food can be had elsewhere for a cheaper price. :) Still looking...

                Grade: B/B+

                3 Replies
                1. re: katkoupai

                  Yeah, not a big fan of Los Tacos. Probably my least favorite out of all the places in the area. La Estrella - try their fish tacos or fish ceviche. Those are the best. If you go to the location on Orange Grove/Marengo (?) you will note that they reopened the old location in the small strip mall on the east side of Marengo (they closed this when they built the new location building on the west side of Marengo (right across the street). We went in to the old/new location and quickly realized that they have select items (more menu items at the old location) at each location. Seafood is only available at the new location - go there. People have been saying that the LE on Fair Oaks and Villa has gone downhill, but I do not go there anymore since I found the Hammond/Summit place, so I cannot speak to that.
                  At the Hammond/Summit place the tacos are $1/each and you can get rice and beans (not sure how much that is) and their burritos (which include both R&B) are $4. Definitely homemade salsas (green and red) - I have watched Isaura make them in the past. MMMM-mmmmm good!! ;-)

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    Thanks. I need to try this place that you are talking about. I first thought Los Tacos was good, and then a few hours later, I changed my mind. It was okay, but it left something to be desired.

                2. El Taquito Mexicano #2 (467 N Fair Oaks Ave) have excellent $1 carne asada tacos. It's a small hole-in-the-wall sit down joint.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Oishii Eats

                    Hey, thanks. :) Actually, a few hours after the meal at Los Tacos, I was unsure what I thought of it. (Maybe it wasn't as good as I thought it was.) There has to be better Mexican food in Pas. I haven't heard of El Taquito Mexicano, but thank you-- I will check it out. :)

                  2. I like the Tortas Mexico on Fair Oaks just N. of Union. They have good carne asada tacos (you can get them plain or with cojita cheese -- and I think the cheese makes them really tasty), a delicious-and-spicy red salsa, and good beans. While I've never gotten the taco plate, they definitely have them and they would be within your price range.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: DanaB

                        I have been pretty underwhelmed with this place as well.