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May 4, 2009 10:05 AM

Taco Loco is the Tito's Tacos of OC. But at least we found some good coffee.

Taco Loco is the Tito's Tacos of OC. But at least we found some good coffee.
During my pre-Chowhound awakening days, a friend and I visited the little curbside taco stand called Taco Loco in Laguna Beach about 10 years ago and subsequently pretty much forgot everything about the experience (though my friend was quick to recall some screaming kids next to us who loudly proclaimed their desire to go to Taco Bell instead).

This Saturday we were visiting the national archives in Laguna Niguel and decided to check it out again for lunch.

We ordered a pretty broad selection of their tacos, to try and get a sense of the sorts of fillings they offer. We noticed several fillings had the option of being "blackened"

We ordered 5 tacos:

Mushroom and Tofu
Lobster taco
Blackened chicken taco
Blackened squid taco

We ordered each topped with guacamole, and a cup of mild and spicy salsa on the side.

First of all, lets get this out of the way... 5 tacos and 1 beer with tax and tip cost about $30. At a curbside taco stand. OK, so I admit that with the dogs in purses, plastic boobs, abounding surfers and nary a latino in sight, we shouldn't have been surprised.

Secondly, I'd say that the overarching flavor profile of the tacos was outrageously, supremely, utterly and inexorably bland. My god man, how do you bland up deep fried pork? The spicy salsa-- bland (with a tingle at the back end). The "blackened" chicken... bland. (And the blackening was more like a dusting of grey specks on white meat chicken). The lobster taco had some flavor, but at $8.00 it had better have something.

The musroom and tofu taco was the best, but probably because our expectations for it and this place had dipped so low by the point we tasted it that there was no where to go but up.

Please people, for the love of carnitas, give this place a miss. I don't know how this place has survived for survived for so long.

On a more positive note, we did have some delicious coffee (roasted in house, with a giant machine taking up most of the indoor cafe area) at the Laguna Coffee Company. Big burlap sacks of green coffee beans take up much of the entryway. The owner has even planted a coffee tree in the front, and you can get an up close and personal look at it. You can even sneak a berry off the branch.... the coffee fruit tastes like sweet red peppers. The berries were darker and the seeds were greener than the ones we saw in Dalat, Vietnam.

Just don't ask to use the toilet if you haven't bought anything (or if they think you haven't bought anything, when in fact your wife bought you a caffe latte).

Mr Taster

Taco Loco
640 S Coast Hwy Ste 1, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Laguna Coffee Co
1050 S Coast Hwy Ste B, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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  1. Catalina Fish Kitchen (Costa Mesa or Huntington Beach). Tacos go from $2 to $4 and all are around $2 twice a week. Not street taco size either. Also a new find: Bear Flag Fish Company on Newport Penninsula. Great taco deals here too.

    $30 for 5 tacos and a beer is pretty outrageous. But......... WHY is this the Tito's of OC, prey tell? Is "bland' the operative word?

    Catalina Fish Kitchen & Sea
    670 W 17th St Ste G8, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

    1 Reply
    1. re: Midlife

      Re my Titos of OC comment.... yes, bland yet extremely popular.

      Utterly perplexing.

      Mr Taster

    2. $30 for 5 tacos and 1 beer?!? That's crazy!

      You can go to Javiers and get an awesome entree and 2 beers for $30.

      1. any idea if the various taco locos are related? i think the one in long beach (taco loco #3) is absolutely amazing. all the usual meat suspects, but really well done (i love their tripas: braised until tender then crisped on the flattop). I can't imagine the reaction if they tried to serve a tofu taco.