The Taco Tour (long)...
My wife and I drove up the coast this weekend and stopped for a few tacos on the way:
Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa: Had two blackened calamari tacos... just about the most perfectly cooked squid available in California. Very tasty. Certainly more Californian than Mexican, but a delight nonetheless -- especially when they're feeling generous with the cheese and chipotle sauce (and they were)
Tacos Baja Ensenada in Los Angeles: Had one fish, one shrimp, one stingray. Tasty and traditional Baja-style fried fish, but the stingray was something of a letdown -- tastes like chicken (no really, it tastes just like stewed chicken). Somehow the fish tacos here manage to seem like much more than the sum of their parts.
Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica: Had one fish taco and one chorizo. These fish tacos shared 98% of their DNA with those at Tacos Baja Ensenda. Terrific, with a very cinnamony salsa that adds a special touch, but the fish was less perfectly moist and tender and this detracted from the experience a bit. The chorizo was very small, but inexpensive at $1.50, and featured some of the deepest flavored chorizo I've ever tasted.
La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara: Had one Taco Rajas, one Adobado, one chorizo, one Super-Rica Special, and one mushroom taco. The Rajas was the best by far, onions and pasillas coarsely chopped with a Velveta-like cheese (it's queso blanco, but it's amazingly similar to the above mentioned processed cheese product). The adobo and the chorizo were dry, mild and disapointing. The mushroom was simmered in cream and flavored with epazote, very tasty, but it's not a normal menu item. The Super-Rica special was a minced chile relleno served in three tortillas with adobado mixed throughout... not as good as it sounds. EVERYTHING at La Super-Rica was very fresh (especially the white corn tortillas that are made to order with every order), very popular, and very dull.
Blue Sky Cafe in San Luis Obispo: The Blue Sky Cafe is routinely named the best restaurant in San Luis Obispo; it's a little cafe that serves a bit of everything. My wife opted for the fish taco plate. Her tacos were salmon, but you're offered your choice from whatever is fresh and availavle. The chef sauteed the salmon in a very mild tomato salsa, then dressed them in lime-cream sauce. The salmon was perfectlly tender, almost gelatinous (like the inside of an absolutely perfect salmon karaage) result was very tasty, but the tortillas were an incidental element in what was otherwise a very tasty seafood stew.
Taco Temple in Morro Bay: Locals claim that this place serves the best fish taco in California. That claim is debateable. But, this place does serve some fantastic tacos (bringing to bear all possible connotations of the word _fantastic_). I can honestlty say that the Maryland Blue Crabcake Taco with shoestring potatoes, chipotle mayonnaise, and mango pinapple salsa was the VERY BEST Maryland Blue Crabcake Taco with shoestring potatoes, chipotle mayonnaise, and mango pinapple salsa I've ever had! It was like an oversized but well-conceived appetizer from a high-end restaurant more than a humble fish taco. My wife had their standard fish-tacos and found them to be tasty and gigantic, served with a mixed field green salad (instead of shredded cabbage), fresh grilled fish, and a mild salsa.
At Morro Bay we turned back, we could've made more stops, but we'll leave them for another taco tour on another day.