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Bmore: El Taquito vs. Tortilleria

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Recently I visited two of the mexican/el salvador taquieras in Fells Point and I just wanted to give a brief overview.

Tortilleria on Eastern Ave received some praise here so I decided to stop in to get some pork and chicken tacos. The soft tortillas are really quite good and the pork was seasoned and cooked just right. The chicken, to me, was a bit bland and to be honest I wasnt impressed with their homemade chips. They have a basket next to the register where you can pick up a bag of fresh chips; I was expecting far better. Overall I'd give this place a solid B.

El Taquito, just a few doors down from Tortilleria, was a pleasant surprise. Last night, around 8:30pm, the gf and I wanted to grab a quick bite to eat and were in the mood for some mexican food. We drove down Eastern and El Taquito was one of the only places open for business. We stopped in and got an order of chips and guac and I got the three soft tacos (pork and beef) and she got the chicken fajitas; we ended up getting the food to go. Im not sure if the chips here are made in house but they were much more flavorful than the ones at Tortilleria. The guac was too thin for my liking but it had a nice garlicky zip to it (admittedly, it went well when spooned onto the tacos). My pork tacos were heavenly and I loved the red hot sauce they served on the side. The gf thoroughly enjoyed her fajitas as well. Overall I'd give this place an A- and will definitely be going back.

Can you guys think of any other places in that area that are worth checking out? I want to try La Guadulapana (sp?) but I'm a bit intimidated by it... any suggestions of what to get there would be great.

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  1. 'Can you guys think of any other places in that area that are worth checking out? I want to try La Guadulapana (sp?) but I'm a bit intimidated by it... any suggestions of what to get there would be great."

    Well, if you're intimidated by La Guadalupana, you're probably not going to feel too comfortable at Palomino :-) But that said, I've found the stewed meats at Palomino to be very enjoyable. They aren't the most nuanced preps, but they're bold and flavorful and really delicious, and they always give you a nice, simple soup to start with any order.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Dmnkly

      Where is Palomino? Is it on Eastern Ave? I can't recall seeing it. I also like La Sirinita, which is much further down Eastern.

      1. re: Jason1

        Almost directly across the street from Tortilleria Sinaloa. By night, I think it's more of a bar and lounge with pool tables and blaring music. By day, it's pretty deserted except for some guys playing cards in the back... except the music is still blaring.

      2. re: Dmnkly

        cool, ill try to check that out at some point. the reason im intimidated is not due to the atmosphere or authenticity, it's bc my spanish is seriously lacking. the gf can speak it well enough so it's easy when i go with her.

        1. re: MarcDC

          Do report back. I'd be curious to hear how it compares to some others. I'm trying to work my way through the neighborhood, but it's slow going with the little fella.

          1. re: MarcDC

            I walked into La Guadalupana and was completely ignored, I finally just left.

          2. re: Dmnkly

            I've got a kid, so fellow "take out'ers" should check out Tijuana Tacos also on Eastern in Fells. It might be the best delivery in town, period. Their Tacos Al Pastor are slammin' as are the Chili Rellenos. Equally as good are the enchilladas with any of the 3 sauces, although I think the rojo is the best. Beware, I think the owner does the deliveries, so if he's not there to take your order, you'll have to get by with your best Spanish!

            1. re: eblood

              thanks!

          3. Hey, Marc, good call on El Taquito.

            I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been there before but didn't realize that was the name of the place. I fell in a couple of months ago and carried out some stewed chicken dish that was a special that day and it was pretty mediocre. So I'm glad I caught your post or I might not have been back.

            I just had lunch there, and I agree, their tacos are really excellent. I had the puerco, cecina and lamb barbacoa. The puerco (carnitas?) was moist and tender and had the fat that Sinaloa's lacks. Simple but great flavor. I loved the cecina, nice marinade, seared and crispy in places. The lamb barbacoa was tender but still had some substance, lightly seasoned, but just SCREAMED lamb. A great accompanying salsa, good tortillas. Three great tacos, a Mexican coke, tax and tip for $10 says winner in my book.

            I was never thrilled with Sinaloa's tacos to begin with, but yeah, it's no contest. As for Palomino, their barbacoa is a lot different. It's more heavily seasoned and sauced, bolder flavor with a healthy dose of grease, which I enjoy (to a point). It's different enough that I don't feel comfortable comparing them head-to-head. But as far as Sinaloa goes, yeah, I'm fully in El Taquito's camp.

            16 Replies
            1. re: Dmnkly

              great! im glad you had as good of an experience as i did!

              nice write up too

              1. re: Dmnkly

                This is all very interesting! Maybe a taco crawl chow outing? Anyway, which way is El Taquito from Sinaloa? Towards or away from B'dwy?

                1. re: baltoellen

                  I think a taco crawl is an excellent idea! Shall we BYO Coronas and margaritas?

                  1. re: amethiste

                    Excellent idea indeed! We will have to include the Taco Truck.

                    1. re: hon

                      hon, where is this taco truck you speak of?

                      1. re: MarcDC

                        Thanks for directions. Now, I'll return the favor. There is a taco truck on the east side of B'dwy, around Gough or Bank. That general area. There also seems to be one of the west side, and further north, around Pratt....

                        1. re: baltoellen

                          The one on the east side of B'dwy is the one I am talking about, tasty!

                  2. re: baltoellen

                    away from broadway. if youre on the street looking at Sinaloa, El Taquito is to the right.

                    1. re: baltoellen

                      Away... Taquito is east of Sinaloa.

                      You'd better believe I'd be behind a taco crawl. There have to be thirty places within a three block radius serving tacos. There's got to be a find or two among them.

                      (And if anybody spies a spit for al pastor, please make it known... please)

                      1. re: Dmnkly

                        This post has also made me realize how few places I've tried in the area. They seem to multiply daily and there are rarely posts about one place or another. Anyway, this would make for a good spring outing....I think. And, we can both byob and stop in somewhere for a margarita or three!

                        1. re: Dmnkly

                          An Al Pastor spit is available at La Sirenita out in Highlandtown. And it's good Al Pastor.
                          I go to different places for different things. El Taquito makes great Albondigas soup and righteous Pozole. I like Sinaloa's Chorizo and their Barbacoa as well as their carnitas. Sirenita has great Al Pastor, Chorizo and Secina. That place in Rosedale on Philadelhia Road has awesome tamales (plus lots of other stuff that looks great but that I have not tried yet).

                          1. re: aubzamzam

                            "Sirenita has great Al Pastor"

                            Guess I know where I'm having lunch tomorrow.

                            1. re: Dmnkly

                              If you guys are talking about La sirenita on eastern by the Walgreens, I'm pretty sure it's closed on Tuesdays. Random day to close I know. but check first.

                              1. re: amaebi

                                Yes the "cerrado en martes" rule is true -- I found out the hard way!

                            2. re: aubzamzam

                              Got to La Sirenita for lunch today. It's nice to finally see a cone! Agreed, it's good, but I'm not flipping out over it. Don't get me wrong, I loves me some char and that's what al pastor is all about as far as I'm concerned, but this was a little overly dry and blackened for my taste. And though the cone was operational, that's not where my taco came from. At least not without a significant detour before reaching my tortilla. I'd like to try to obtain a really fresh one before passing judgment. I know sometimes it's a matter of hitting these guys at the right time of day to get one fresh off the cone. Any intel on the preferred hour?

                              I also tried their cecina and barbacoa (goat). The cecina was nice -- very salty, which works for me but it was enough that I'm sure it'll turn some off. Barbacoa was less exciting. Not bad, per se, but too dry and stringy. And both served to illustrate just how good the seasoning on Taquito's meats is.

                              Big menu... I'll have to get back and dig further.

                              1. re: Dmnkly

                                great, thanks for the update on them

                                not sure im clamoring to get out that way though... i still have quite a bit more exploring to do at taquito and sinoloa before im done with those two.

                      2. El Taquito is probably the oldest Mexican joint in the neighborhood, and although I haven't been there in a while, it has always been muy autentico. I still think Tortilleria is the best for just tacos, nothing else. I think they have the best tacos in town. For Salvadoran, especially papusas, I like Restaurante El Salvador. The enchiladas verde (chicken) at Las Palmas (on Eastern, not in the Latin Palace) are excellent, other dishes are hit or miss, but always a bargain and never too bad. I have had the tamales from the taco truck up the street and they hit the spot, especially since a lot of the places down here don't make tamales. The only negative comment I can make is about the rotisserie chicken place on Broadway - although I've only been there once - but I found their chicken to be way too salty.

                        1. As a footnote, Marc, unless you got something different than what I got (possible I suppose, since I hit the place at an odd hour in between lunch and dinner), while I'm right behind you on the tacos, I think you're smoking crack on the chips :-)

                          The ones I got today (yes... I went back) were really mediocre and I'd be SHOCKED if they were made in-house. They looked and tasted like a bagged tortilla chip... and not a good one at that. Sinaloa's, on the other hand, I love. Light and crispy and layered like a fine pastry. Among the best I've had. Perhaps you got a bad batch? (Or perhaps I did.)

                          In any case, chicken tacos -- similarly excellent. I'm guessing the chicken is roasted and shredded and then griddled to serve. Heavily seasoned as chicken tacos go, and just delicious.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Dmnkly

                            HAHA

                            ill have to go back and try Sinaloa's chips... the ones i had were hard to bite into and really had no taste; it's very possible i got a bad batch.

                            1. re: MarcDC

                              I regularly get chips from Sinaloa. They ARE more difficult to bite into, as they're thicker than most tortilla chips, but have the best solid crunch and texture of any tortilla chips I've had. They are very light on the salt, though, which can make them taste a little bland.

                              1. re: daveinmd

                                I agree with Dave about the chips needing a bit more salt, but other than that, they ARE flakey like pastry, and even complex (for a chip!). And, yeah, that crunch!

                                On Saturday, inspired by this thread, I went there and got carry out of a chicken and barboca (beef) taco and a chicken tamale. The tacos had a generous amount of fillings. The chicken was moist and flavorful, and the barboca was also moist with a lovely kick. And, they are wrapped in some fine tortillas. I didn't eat much of the tamale, but what I did taste was light (for a tamale) and not the least bit greasy. (I know that for some in this crowd, the lack of grease is not a positive thing! ;-p)

                                I had also stopped in Taquito's for carry out. There seemed to be some sort of miscommunication about getting food "to go." I thought it best to give it a shot another day when I could eat in. But, on the ambiance front, it's hard to think of the two places as more different: Sinaloa is just so sunny and bright; and at Taquito, I felt as though I entered some secret inner sanctum kind of place. (Not that that's a bad thing, or matters very much.)

                                Finally, I also realized that I had been to Taquito maybe like 8 years ago, and wasn't impressed. So, definitely time for a repeat visit.

                                1. re: baltoellen

                                  if you ever make it to el taquito let us know what you think

                          2. At Tortilleria Sinaloa, I think their better tacos are the lengua and chorizo. They sometimes have goat and cabeza. I also enjoy their menudo soup- it goes great with their fresh corn tortillas.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: 1000yregg

                              Can anyone verify whether or not El Taquito is BYOB? Thanks.

                              1. re: mcattrone

                                Pretty sure it is BYOB

                            2. Yo gotta agree with Mobtown. I've been really diggin the food at Las Palmas. Their tacos are pretty authentic and their deep fried chicken quesadillas are pretty filling. Been to Tortilleria and Palomino's...Las Palmas still tops my charts. Only drawback is that the server that's usually there can only speak minimal English...if at all...

                              1. The bf and I are going to get tacos for lunch sometime this week. My question to you all who have been to the aforementioned places is this: which one has the best vegetarian tacos? I’m fine eating just black bean (or whatever bean) tacos, but do any of them make anything vegetarian – ie, vegetables beside beans?

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: scarlet starlet

                                  Vegetarian tacos? I think most authentic Mexican places will be very confused by this, since tacos are pretty much just fatty, salty meat and the tortilla (along with onion, cilantro, and some sauce). While I haven't been to nearly all of the places mentioned in this thread, I really don't think these are the places to go looking for vegetarian tacos (or anything else for that matter).

                                  1. re: Jason1

                                    Mostly agree with Jason, but Elvis in Federal Hill will do them. That would require a trip around the harbor which is a PITA, but they go out of their way to offer veggie options, and their food is darned good.

                                  2. re: scarlet starlet

                                    A friend of mine is fond of the veggie tacos at Carolina's Tex-Mex.

                                    1. re: baltoellen

                                      Thanks for all the suggestions. My bf really wants to get tacos from one of the places on Eastern so I was wondering if any of them have at least bean tacos. I know that I can get vegetarian tacos elsewhere in this city but my question is not where I can get those, but rather whether or not the places mentioned in this thread will have anything for me to eat. If they don’t, then I’ll just tell the bf to go without me. :)

                                      1. re: scarlet starlet

                                        Tortillera Sinoloa usually has good mushroom quesadillas, which they serve with a side of beans. (I've never eaten them, but my wife is a vegetarian and gets them when I'm on chorizo taco quest).

                                    2. re: scarlet starlet

                                      I didn't notice any other than El Taquito's bean and cheese, but then I wasn't looking, either. Mexico's a big country and I imagine there have to be some traditional vegetarian tacos there somewhere, but my impression is that that's not typical, so I suspect you might have a hard time filling that order at non-Americanized joints. Also, I don't know how strict your vegetarianism is, but it's a pretty good bet that regardless of the filling, the tortillas are either made with or griddled on lard. This will also be the case for a lot of "vegetarian" dishes.

                                      I believe El Taquito, La Sirenita and Las Palmas all have some non-taco vegetarian offerings. I know chiles rellenos (of the cheese variety) were on the menu at El Taquito and Tijuana Tacos. I don't remember any veg options at Tortilleria Sinaloa, but that's mostly because it's primarily a tortilleria and the menu is very, very small. Sinaloa does have ceviche (I realize there are nearly as many definitions for the word vegetarian as there are vegetarians :-), but I was totally underwhelmed and wouldn't recommend it.

                                    3. Figured I'd bump this thread since it's rapidly becoming the repository for all Broadway/Eastern taqueria information.

                                      First, I hit the taco truck mentioned by baltoellen and hon upthread. It goes by Tacos Jalisco. I had chivo and some manner of beef (I've now forgotten which) and both were good, but speed and convenience aside I didn't see a compelling reason to pick them over some of the other options mentioned here. That was one visit, though, FWIW.

                                      I also tried Tijuana Tacos and was pleasantly surprised. Given the name, I was expecting Tex-Mex and tequila. But it's a humble little taqueria/bodega that merits further research. Unfortunately, I was sidetracked by vacation and illness in between visiting and writing here, so the details elude me at the moment. The pastor, as suggested upthread, wasn't bad. Certainly better than the others I've tried in the area. But well short of nirvana. The quest continues on that count.

                                      Lastly, I fell into Las Palmas today and had the lengua, bistec and chorizo. The first two were a little underseasoned for my tastes, but the texture on the lengua was awesome. Tender meat that was diced and seared nice and crispy on the outside. I rarely order chorizo tacos, but theirs was simple and good -- scattered over the griddle and crisped up like the lengua. Frankly, what excited me most about Las Palmas was the salsas. They serve a red and green with the tacos, and both are very simple, clean and delicious. The red was smooth and a little oily with a nice smoky chile flavor. It clearly wasn't meant to stand on its own, but as a taco accent I thought it was particularly nice. The green, however, was awesome. It's a very watery (by which I mean liquidy, not lacking flavor) tomatillo base with jalapeno, cilantro, very finely diced onion and bits of avocado (among other things, I'm sure). Nothing special or unusual in terms of ingredients, but it was exceptionally fresh, green, light and vibrant -- obviously made with great care. The bistec ended up being one of my favorite tacos in the area on the strength of that salsa, even if it wasn't particularly noteworthy otherwise.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Dmnkly

                                        Awesome, thanks for the new reports.

                                        1. re: Dmnkly

                                          After a second lunch today at Tijuana Tacos, I'm significantly less enthused. I remember last time being enjoyable, and the pastor, even if the char was courtesy of the griddle rather than a spit, still had some texture and was nicely seasoned.

                                          Today, the carne asada was sauteed. Not a hint of fire or smoke to be found. Also, when you order carnitas and al pastor and can't determine which is supposed to be which, that's not a good sign.

                                          1. re: Dmnkly

                                            Yea, I think I'm gonna try some of the other places first before I venture there

                                        2. aubzamzam: "That place in Rosedale on Philadelhia Road has awesome tamales (plus lots of other stuff that looks great but that I have not tried yet)."

                                          MY RESPONSE: I believe you are referring to Fiesta Mexicana 8304 Philadelphia Road in Rosedale. There's another little Mexican place just south of Fiesta Mexicana on the same side of the road but I've never tried it because Fiesta Mexicana is my "go to" place in the area.

                                          1. i adore el taquito - it's one of my favorite places for "comfort food" in baltimore. i've been going there well over 10 years. it's not the most vegetarian-friendly place on the planet (my partner and i are veggie), and it's certainly not vegan, but i could overdose on the bean and cheese burritos and the chips and homemade quacamole and salsa. the regular waitress is adorable, even if her english is limited, and where else will you get serenaded by authentic latin-american street musicians that wander in off the street?? (actually, they were way off key and not at all together, but they were so charming i had to give them a nice tip.......)

                                            1. try the pork rib stew (costillo de puerco) in mole verde at El Taquito. i crave this at least once a week. i should have put this in ALL CAPS, IT'S THAT DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!! i've made this dish before from a Diana Kennedy recipe but for eight bucks i keep going back to el taquito and it's unpretentious charms.

                                              my friend always gets the tongue tacos at el taquito and they are delicious, too.

                                              1. Ate at El Taquito this last Sunday. We had an outstanding pozole con puerco which was rich and spicy and utterly delicious. We also shared a plate of the lamb tacos, the meat was flavorful and moist and the red sauce on the side is fantastico. I may just have to go back this coming weekend to try the homemade mole negro.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: sekelmaan

                                                  I haven't hit all these places yet, but I have to say Tortilleria Sinaloa has the best Tamales I've had out of California--the masa was ethereal. I also had the best lengua taco ever there--it was a revelation. As for their chips--I enjoyed getting to control the salt level myself since most chips are WAY over-salted to hide their flavor. I personally like them with some fresh lime juice. I was less satisfied with the carnitas taco and the pork filling in the tamale. Despite that, for the cost of a lunch I'm transported back to my days in the Fruitvale district of Oakland when I go there. I will say I almost didn't give it a try--it looked too clean and bright to have authentic food, but I was wrong!

                                                  1. re: exiledfromgoodfood

                                                    We split off a question about finding the best tacos in San Jose to the California board. You can find that thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666029