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I'm Writing A Taco Book-Need Help In Santa Barbara, Oxnard, San Diego

Note: As per forum moderators' request, I'm posting this for non-LA taco trucks and taquerias. Hi, I'm going to be writing a taco cookbook for Sasquatch Books. Back in July, I saw the call for a taco writer on Bandini's taco blog and pursued it. So here I am, about to embark on the first of probably three legs of taco research. This trip will take the family and I from the Rogue Valley in Oregon (Dec 22 down I-5) to Santa Barbara (Dec 23 cut over at Kettleman City then south, 24,25,26 in SB), LA (1 or two days), Tecate (1 day), Ensenada (1-2 days), then south to Bahia de los Angeles to visit my sister. I think for LA, I'm looking mostly for westside trucks and taquerias. I can enter either thru the PCH (I remember killer tacos in Oxnard in 92, still there?) or the 101. I know I don't have San Diego on there. It's mainly a time issue. But if there is a super-duper must eat place not far off the 5 I will consider.

The book will basically have about 50 taco recipes, from the standard to gourmet, strange to awesome. The goal is to collect recipes that people can recreate in their homes. I am keeping the field wide open and will cull later, so anything is game, even ram testicles! I've been poring over entries here as well as on the taco blogs, websites, etc. I hope this thread isn't too redundant because there are similar threads. But my mission is to collect (and give full credit to the creators) recipes for killer tacos that will knock your socks off. You know, we all have a place that we drool over just thinking about. (Mine is currently al pastor at the El Gallo truck in Medford, Oregon) I want readers to drool over and swoon for the most awesome tacos on the west coast. (It's not specifically a west coast book, but I'll be hitting SF area, Portland and Seattle later).
I want rocking tortillas, fillings, salsas, condiments, a few drinks, a few desserts. All who contribute recipes will be acknowledged in book with address and/or website.

So if anyone can recommmend places on I-5 south of Merced, Santa Maria area, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Oxnard, West LA, San Diego, Tecate, Ensenada, (maybe Tijuana on return) and points south, I would be eternally grateful and definitely place you name in the thank you section. I can hardly believe my good fortune at landing this gig. I'm an SF Peninsula taco head since the mid-80's and I'm thrilled to see tacos taking over the world! Please let me know if I need to be more clear on any points. Cheers!

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  1. Seeing how Mama Testas has been pilloried as of late, I'm somewhat hesitant to suggest this, but they have a taco made from nopales, Oaxaca cheese, and an amazing red chile sauce. They're kind of an upscale taco place in Hillcrest (a San Diego neighborhood) that specializes in tacos from all over Mexico.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Not only does MT have the taco with nopales, but the mashed potato taco in a crunchy shell is about as good as it gets for fried tacos. The beef version of tacos mojados is usually worth the visit alone. And I'd buy the book just to get the Salsa Escalera recipe.

      Am I the only one that finds it ironic that the OP is not spending much time in San Diego, the town that has a taco shop on almost every corner...the town that pays hommage to carne asada in any form. San Diego the bastion of the rolled taco (aka taquito). Come on, this is a town that lives and dies by the taco...

      Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista is a branch of Tacos El Gordo in Tijuana, how could you leave that out. There are plenty of might fine taco stands in Tijuana.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        I agree. Tacos El Gordo is the best damn taco shop in town and also the most authentic. It's great stuff which shouldn't be missed by any taco enthusiast.

      2. re: Josh

        Don't be afraid to recommend MT's--I still think they're good for what they do.

      3. see the taco truck map:http://www.yumtacos.com/

        but how will you get the recipes? most vendors that I know keep their recipes to themselves....

        I'm not sure I understand how a whirlwind trip like this will impart encyclopedic knowledge.

        1. Rather than Tecate, which is okay in itself, I would think that you would visit one of the great street taco cultures in all of Mexico - Tijuana. Just on Calle Taboada Sanchez you're looking at five or six of the best taco stands in the city starting with Tacos El Gordo and the little stands in the open market next to it.

          There's now a Tacos El Yaqui (original in Rosarita Beach) in Tijuana near the cathedral on Calle Segunda which makes God's own taco itself in the Perrone.

          Just to the north of Ensenada proper on the way out of town, one of the best taco stands in northern Baja, El Trailero, makes a huarache that stands as near blissful.

          Tecate's okay, but that drive to Ensenada is a bit of a dangerous road. Make sure you don't drive it at night!!!

          In Santa Barbara every local will tell you to visit Tacos El Rico while the taxi drivers will tell you to visit the one just up the road (sorry, can't remember the name).

          Honestly, Tijuana's the place for street tacos...

          2 Replies
          1. re: deckape

            Be sure to read the recent post about the taco truck in Taft, California. Kind of out of the way, but in the same area, and a great story about its discovery. Written by Toodie Jane.

            1. re: deckape

              I'll second the TJ street taco scene as supreme, and add the simple, incredible tacos de carne asada at Tacos Guanajuato at the end of Avenida Carranza near Av. Arias Bernal (half in the street, half in a storefront).

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