REVIEW w/ pics: Arturo's Puffy Taco in Whittier
- pleasurepalate Jan 10, 2008 07:46 PM
Awhile back, I saw an episode of Bobby Flay's show, Throwdown, where the episode was a "Puffy Taco" showdown. When the show started and his challenge was first announced, I scratched my head, because I've never heard of a puffy taco before. Of course, once I saw the show, I knew I had to have one, one way or the other.
For those of you unfamiliar with this food, it's a part of Tex-Mex cuisine. There's been an ongoing debate where many believe that puffy tacos were invented at Henry's Puffy Tacos in San Antonio in 1978 while others claim that they were originally named "crispy tacos" and served in Austin in 1950s. In the end, it doesn't matter how they came to be, I'm just glad they got invented in the first place.
Basically, a puffy taco is made up of masa that is shaped into a round tortilla and then deep fried. While it's frying, it's repeatedly doused with the oil so that it becomes "puffy", almost like a pastry shell, and than an indentation is placed in the middle to create a taco shape. Once done, it's removed from the oil, drained and filled with the appropriate fillings.
After seeing the show, I actually forgot about the puffy taco for awhile until my niece mentioned this taco joint she used to swing by after dance class and as soon as she said the name of that place, my ears perked up. The taco shop's name was Arturo's Puffy Taco.
A few days later, she took me there and although I have nothing else to compare them to, I thought those puffy tacos were awesome. The taco shells were light, airy and crunchy. The meat fillings were good quality and all the veggies were fresh and crispy. Overall, those tacos rocked and I'm already planning my return trip.
To see pics, go to:
Arturo's Puffy Taco
15693 Leffingwell Rd
Whittier, CA 90604-3314
I've been here many times. I think it's been slumping lately. Not sure why, but the tacos just aren't as fresh. And if the puffy tacos sit around for longer than a couple minutes, they become pretty gnarly. If they're fresh, then you've got something good in your hands.
I loved it the one time I went there a few years back. It's diametrically opposed to almost every other Mexican restaurant in LA, which is to say its basically Tex-Mex cuisine which sadly some push aside as not noteworthy.
Additionally, their cheese and gravy drenched enchiladas are greasy, delicious goodness.
Probably I have not visited again is that I don't usually get to Whittier that often, i.e. almost never.
I stopped by last Saturday about 1:30. There was only one person in line ahead of me but the little inside dining area was full with the exception of one table (there was a large party which took up 3 of the tables, so when they left it was basically empty). I placed my order - 1 ground beef puffy taco and an order of taquitos with avocado. Root Beer. Less than 5 minutes later, my order was up.
I had already gotten my space ready with some of the red salsa and utensils, so when the food came, I was ready to roll.
I took a bite of the taco first. I have to tell you, I know Abby wrote that the shell was crisp and light, but I still wasn't expecting it - I was expecting something hard and dense. Well, let me tell you, it was very light and crisp. And VERY good. I slathered on more of the red salsa (a lot more - flavored with salt) and munched happily away. After a few bites of the taco, I turned my attention to the taquitos. The avocado (which, yes, is a runny green substance which has never seen an avocado) sauce had a faint taste of that smell that hits you when you open a can of really cheap dog food. So, I scraped off the green crap and continued to eat the taquitos, which were quite good. But the best part was definitely the taco. I will have those again - and again!
I was luckier than glutton, as my order was made after I ordered it so it was piping hot and fresh.
Thanks for the recs everyone!
Thanks to the CHs, I was able to find this place for my husband. He's been dreaming of puffy tacos since seeing them on Food Network...and we've been frequenting Arturo's ever since.
The tacos are simple terrific...the shell is crispy and airy and just delightful. The fillings are great, too. I'm a big fan on the guisada (stewed beef) and the chicken....the ground beef and carne asada seem a little dry to me. If you're looking for spicy, this isn't the place for that...the salsa isn't spicy at all. But they do have peppers on the side, if you're looking to add heat.
I wouldn't suggest getting anything but the puffy tacos and the puffy tostadas here. Everything else seems pedestrian.