Sunday, June 26, 2011
Tacos in Riverside: Good to Great, and then Inedible
The strangest thing happened on my way back from Riverside. I stopped by a very promising looking fish taco joint called Tacos Los Compadres (don't ask why I went for fish tacos in an inland city) and for like two bucks, I got the best and crispiest fish taco I've had in a long time. The fish was just out of the fryer, piping hot, whose temperature was tempered by the cold tomatoes, crunchy lettuce and white sauce on top.
I relished that taco so much I returned a few months later and ordered two fish tacos. The first one was just as good as I remembered it. But then it happened. As I bit enthusiastically into the second taco, I had a serious case of cognitive dissonance. Naturally, I first rationalized the seemingly inedible fish that tasted like lead and not at all fresh and fleshy like the one I had had exactly one second ago was just a bad first bite.
On another trip to Riverside, I went to Mr. Taco after some message boards raved about its namesake goodies. I had the carne asada and al pastor tacos with rice and refried beans. The carne asada was nothing special and the al pastor was definitely better than average but not mind-blowing.
al pastor came from shawarma that Lebanese immigrants brought to Mexico? Cool random factoid of the day.
The salsas were also deep in flavor and spice, which I liked.
The rice was far too dry but the refried beans were fine. It's hard to go wrong with refried beans with a gooey layer of cheese on top, after all.
I probably won't return since Riverside is so vast and I'd prefer to try other new places in search of that perfect taco, whether it'd be one filled with fish, carne asada or al pastor.
I was disappointed that Mr. Taco didn't have any jamaica, which is usually my drink of choice when I down tacos. It did have a watermelon agua fresca that was refreshing and probably a bit better for me, but I love me a tall glass of bright red jamaica any day.
I dedicate this post to my dear friends who are living in places where getting decent Mexican food is like a hunt for the Holy Grail. Believe me, as someone who's been there, I feel your pain. This is incentive for you to come visit!