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Apr 13, 2000 12:46 AM

Taqueria El Tapatia in Woodland Hills

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I've always been fond of those in-between Mexican places that aren't quite restaurants but offer seating areas that stands don't provide. A friend of mine was saddened when one of her favorite Valley haunts, Dos Arbolitos closed, and we decided to try El Tapatia, which we had heard good things about.

All I can say is that based on our one visit, we were both extremely happy. Located in a strip mall on the corner of Victory and Fallbrook, El Tapatia looks like a fast-food restaurant, and the crowds at lunchtime resembled rush hour at McDonald's. Not to worry. The carnitas tacos were transcendent, assertively seasoned, and generous. Other varieties were also very good, but nothing beat the carnitas. Many other patrons seemed to be eating camarones in various incarnations, as well as seafood cocktails.

I also loved the "Swiss" quesadilla, with marinated beef and flavorful white cheese, subtle and delicious. Both the green and red salsas were fine, and I especially enjoyed the marinated vegetables, including the usual carrots, onions, and peppers, but also wonderful marinated potatoes.

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