The pungent smell of smoky charcoal. The sizzle of meat grilling. Plates wrapped in plastic for easy washing. A self-serving napkin holder on each table. Don’t question what you are eating because you might not want to know. Eating tacos in Mexico is a culinary dining adventure of the rustic kind. Tacos El Gordo is a great example of one of these fine establishments in Tijuana and San Diego.
Everyone knows carne asada tacos. Skirt steak that has been marinated for hours and took only a few minutes to grill. They do not skimp on their guacamole in Mexico and neither should you. This is a watery version, though, that has been thinned down with lime juice and chicken broth. It’s not too spicy and won’t send you looking for the nearest watering hole. These tacos are also served with grilled sweet onions, succulent radishes and grilled serrano peppers. Squeeze some lime over these bad boys. They needed a dash of salt, but overall, they still had incredible flavor.
There are menu items at Tacos El Gordo that will put your high school Spanish to the test. If you’re from a foreign country, eating “strange” food isn’t such a big deal. Tongue. Head. Brains. “Yes please, and can I have another?” They are delicious, and you should try them! Better yet, don’t ask what they are because they will tell. Just order, eat, and enjoy. FYI, these prices are in pesos, not dollars.
“Maciza” is pork meat from the back, the ribs, and around the tummy area. And even though “maciza” means “tough” in Spanish, this meat is completely tender that will melt in your mouth. It’s been simmering for hours in wonderful Mexican spices. Muy delicioso. Muy sabroso.
They sure do love their pigs in Mexico (and they never name them “Babe”). Tacos al pastor are made of pork. You’ve seen the meat roasting vertically over an open flame. Slowly and gently as it develops the flavors from the achiote, lime, garlic, onions, and you can’t forget the pineapple. One bite, and the taco gods will speak to you. This was the tastiest thing at Tacos El Gordo. We are becoming true #TacoSnobs
If tacos al pastor remind you of gyros, you would be correct. This Mexican classic actually comes from the Lebanese immigrants who took a wrong turn at Beirut and ended up in Mexico. If you’re lucky, they will even let you slice your own meat with a machete. Reliving the Aztec days.
My husband, Dr. Vogelmann, has a future in taco making.