Tripa Taco Bien Dorada
Carne Asada Fries
Carne Asada Tacos
Sope de Pollo
Purporting no expertise in Mexican Street Food, though traveled enough to realize what is available at both the high and low end on three continents, it was on good word of mouth that Tacos Tijuana was selected for dinner, the store at 2554 East Tropicana Avenue doing big business with their two-for-one Taco Tuesday Specials though the selection of Asada, Adobada, Carnitas and Pollo is merely a fraction of what the kitchen has to offer.
Opened at the current location for over five years and apparently at one time just a cart it is immediately upon entering the low-ceilinged space that guests will find themselves greeted by the smell of cooking Meat followed by the smile a young woman behind the register, a pictorial menu to the left offering suggestions for diners unfamiliar with terms not typically used at more Americanized joints.
Small and not particularly cool as a result of the open kitchen and 106ᵒF temperatures outside, several booths adjacent the line and tables in a separate room decorated with photographs of Mexico plus a television approximately 2/3 full at 5:30pm, it was without hesitation save for one substitution for sold out Chicharrón that a large order was composed, the total of $31.17 minus a 30% off Groupon+ kickback offering quite a bargain in comparison to almost anything save for perhaps Fast Food or cooking at home.
Happy to watch the kitchen work while waiting, Tortillas first seared or grilled before being topped with Meat, Onions, Cheese, Sauce, Herbs or Greens, it was with a small glass of batched Horchata in hand that two soft discs of Corn loaded with Tongue were tasted first, the Beef springy and supple while a follow-up of Suadero was silky smooth but muted in flavor thanks to a heaping ladle of Tomatillo Salsa.
Opting next for Tripe cooked extra crispy, the textural heterogeneity from one mouthful to the next making one wish that Stomach instead of Carne Asada had been requested atop limp and greasy fries drowned in Sauce and Sour Cream, it was as Taco-filling that Meat freshly carved from a spit proved far better, a scoop of Avocado and 2-for-1 pricing almost surely losing money and no doubt the most popular item ordered with at least two on ever table.
Moving past Tacos to sample additional items, Burritos and Tortas saved for a later date in favor of less commonly seen items, it was beneath juicy cubes of Chicken and Beans that crispy Masa cracked to yield contents including melted Cheese and Lettuce, the Vampiro not dissimilar in terms of its top and bottom but layered with Cheese and lacking Beans which was quite alright given the complex spice profile of bright red Chorizo Sausage.
Rounding out the meal with a Mulita, essentially a soft-style Vampiro or perhaps Quesadilla stuffed with Onions, Salsa and housemade Carnitas, it would be difficult to say more fragrant Pork was tasted anywhere in Mexico City than at Tacos Tijuana and if there is one item on the menu that should be labeled “can’t miss” it is this with the crispy Tripe coming in close second.
FOUR STARS: Not particularly enticing on the exterior nor well controlled in terms of temperature once inside Tacos Tijuana nonetheless delivers the goods in terms of portion, price and quality with several weekly deals intended to entice guests but the real stars of the menu those items which aren’t seen often elsewhere.
RECOMMENDED: Vampiro, Mulita, Tripa, Lengua, Carne Asada.
AVOID: Fries, Horchata from a Mix.
TIP: Check Groupon for 30% off discounts and stop by Monday for discount Burritos, Tuesdays for 2-for-1 Tacos and Wednesday for Torta deals.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.