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Tacos Baja Ensenada... still good?

OK, so for the past 7-8 years, I go home to LA mostly for the fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada (oh, and to see family, I guess). It's a massive treat for all of us exiled on the East Coast because, while decent mexican can be found in pockets, Baja Style fish tacos are still completely elusive.

Anyhow, I sent my sister in law there, and this was the report I got back:

it was a "slimy fishstick in a taco smothered with a mayonaisy sauce"

WHAT??

I'm totally baffled. That description bears no resemblance to any fish taco I've ever had there. Not even remotely. Does TBE suck now? I need to know... The way I see it, there are three possible causes of this description, in order of possibility.

1) my sis in laws' bearings are off, massively. which is possible, but even someone who doesn't appreciate good fish tacos can recognize the goodness of TBE... light, crisp batter of fresh fish, topped with cabbage and creamy salsa. Something's off.

2) A really, really off night for TBE. It's been pretty consistent when I've gone. And I've gone a lot.

3) TBE has gone way, way downhill. but something like that would be noticed immediately here on these boards. And while I don't troll the LA board all that frequently, I did a quick search and didn't find too much on the subject. So it seems status quo remains.

I guess there could be a bizarre mix of #1 and #2...

Anyhow, can someone please illuminate recent status of TBE? Also, I hear there's another TBE down in Whittier. Same?

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  1. The first time I ate at TBE was almost 3 years ago. It was AMAZING. I went there less than 3 weeks ago to show some relatives from Greece real fish tacos. They tasted just as good, if not better, b/c I asked for an avocado on the side, and extra mayo sauce. Whether or not TBE was worse than it was say 5 or 10 years ago, I'm not one to know.

    Nevertheless, don't worry: they're still BOMB!

    1. I went there when it first opened, and the tacos were OK. I will say that their "salsa bar" was not very appetizing. I was a bit underwhelmed.

      1. What does your S-I-L know about fish tacos? Does she have a basis coming from prior experience with this particular food group? What do you think about her taste generally? Would you trust her to recommend a place to you and figure she would be pretty accurate in her assessment?

        7 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          I've never been to TBE myself but your reply raises a question in my mind. Is good-tasting food something intrinsic or learned? That is, is a TBE taco something that the average person would find delicious right off the bat without any prior experience with tacos, or is it an acquired taste? I think most people would find chocolate naturally appealing but I wonder what you think about a TBE taco. Is is naturally appealing?

          1. re: monkuboy

            I mostly asked my question because of his S-I-L's quoted description of coming upon a "mayonaisy sauce" on the taco. Crema is certainly an intregal part of a fish taco. So, if that came as a complete and unwelcome surprise to the the S-I-L, then maybe this was a case of someone eating a food so "foreign" to their tastes as to elicit the reaction being described.

            1. re: Servorg

              Could be... I can imagine a lot of people expect something like Pace Picante sauce on a taco and if there's no tomatoes, something is amiss.

          2. re: Servorg

            She doesn't know a lot about fish tacos - hence my description #1 above... that it might be due to her not having a benchmark.

            However, even without the mayo comment, "slimy" isn't a descriptor I would ever think anyone would have to a TBE fish taco if they are still as good as they used to be. What always set them apart for me was that they were fresh and crisp and light. Nothing slimy about it...

            So are they still crisp and light?

            1. re: adamclyde

              "So are they still crisp and light?"

              Yes. Been a regular TBE customer since '00, and was just there, and they're just as good. There have been some off-days, but they're reliably on. And when they're REALLY ON, then there's no better in California. Period.

              1. re: adamclyde

                You know what, if the crema gets around the fried fish, and if you don't like the crema, I could see complaining about "slimy". The whole thing does get a bit slick... but that's part of the beauty.

                I went last week. It was as good as ever.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  thanks Das. Good to know what I've got to look forward too in a few weeks. Can't wait.

            2. Hi All,

              Just to double-check, but there's only 1 Tacos Baja Ensenada, right? Or are there multiple locations that may have added to the confusion?

              5 Replies
              1. re: exilekiss

                There can be... only one.

                El Taco Nazo and SeƱor Baja (the other doyens of the fish taco) have multiple locations.

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                Tacos Baja Ensenada
                5385 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                1. re: exilekiss

                  My SIL went to the one and only.

                  However, I read somewhere here that there was another location in Whittier? And I remember driving past a similarly decorated, similarly named place in whittier last year? Similarity in name only?

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    Sometimes confusion stems from the fact that TBE is ON Whittier Blvd. (even though it is in LA within the 90022 ZIP).

                    -----
                    Tacos Baja Ensenada
                    5385 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                    1. re: adamclyde

                      Yes, there are two locations, with the second branch located IN the city of Whittier:

                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-baja-wh...

                      Both locations were listed on TBE's website, tacosbaja dot com, but they allowed their domain registration to lapse, and then they lost it...

                      1. re: Joe Blowe

                        right. there's TBE on Whittier in East LA, then there's TBE on Whittier IN Whittier...

                        Is the second location (in city of Whittier) same quality?

                  2. I'm not as big of a fan as many here but, I still go fairly regularly and they're pretty consistant. Did she eat them there right away? They don't travel well.

                    1. I've eaten at TBE dozens of times over the years and it has been quite consistent.

                      The only exceptions I've noticed is that on Wednesdays(?) when they have their fish taco special ($0.99 or something), they precook the fish and have a holding pile ready to meet the increased demand, whereas on other days, they cook to order. The other exception was one day when it looked like they were training a new cook. In those cases the batter lacked the wonderful crispness it usually has, and the fish could possibly be compared to a fish stick.

                      However, I ate there just last month while back in LA on business and it was just as good as ever...and dragging one of the chile-and-salt coated guero peppers thru the crema gave the taco just the right added kick.

                      I still prefer Taco Nazo ever so slightly, but TBE definitely still has it. So, my guess is #1, with a very slight possibility of #2.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: yclops

                        There are THREE locations to TBE. One in East LA, one in Whittier, and one in Glendora. All three owned by the same people and run by relatives. Mom lives by the ELA one, I live by the Whittier one, and I work by the Glendora one, so I've been to all three in one week, and the fish tacos are AWESOME! Much better than El Taco Nazo or Senor Baja! Also, I enjoy the Guacamaya on it!