Taqueria Arandas #5 (S. 1st)
Apparently it's taqueria week for me...two different stops in as many days - neither was disappointing! Today was Taqueria Arandas on South 1st. I decided to take it to go, as the tables were packed. Three tacos: 2 al pastor, and 1 barbacoa...chips and guac on the side. The guac came in a tub the size of my head - enough to two or three people to share as an app...I ate it all. Not the best guac I've ever had, but pretty delilcious. I wanted a bit more lime and spice, but that might just be my preference. The tacos were all very good. The al pastor was nice and sticky, but no discernable sweetness, which I've encountered with other versions. The salsa was a nice addition to the al pastor. The barbacoa didn't blow my mind (I'm starting to think I don't care for it that much). There was just no "there" there. It was somewhat bland...the salsa helped give it a kick, but I was unimpressed with the salsa.
All in all it was a nice lunch, though unless I'm in the neighborhood, I'll likely not make it back. I noticed several other stops I need to make close by (Habanero, Torchy's, Polvo's).
On the way back to the office, I stopped at La Mexicana bakery to pick up a slice of tres Leches cake and a bottle of Mexican Coke. This was my first tres leches experience, and I am hoping that this was a bad version of the much ballyhooed cake. Boy was I disappointed. After reading all the "on and on" about tres leches cakes, I thought I was in for a real treat. This was just bad cake turned soggy...with strawberry in glaze on top. I'll need to try a different version (or two) before giving up, but the cake of three milks is off to a bad start with me.
I think you drew an accurate conclusion from hard-earned experience, though I hate it when bad chow happens to good chowhounds.
I've found all of La Mexicana's traditional panadería items to be disappointing, including their tortillas. A fairly recent thread (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377650 ) noted that their other chow has gone downhill, too.
I went to La Mexicana once (2 yrs. ago) and it was awful. I love Arandas by the way. I used to work near #4 on Rundberg; I miss their Migas in the morning. I also loved that you could get breakfast tacos with corn tortillas.