Travel: Bay Area Taco Roundup

One of the things that nearly every New Yorker laments (besides the obvious, like the tourists and the un-air conditioned cars in the subway) is the lack of good Mexican food in the city. Of course, that's a generalization, and there are plenty of great places like Dos Toros and Empellon al Pastor (also Rockaway Taco, RIP, is still the best fish taco I've ever had.) But for inexpensive, consistently good tacos, California always wins. Ari and I were in Sonoma and Oakland last week for vacation, and I had tacos a total of four separate times (I know, I think I have a problem.) Here's where we ate (plus a couple of favorites from other trips):

Sonoma

IMG_3620

El Molino Central The standout at this seasonal taqueria was actually the pork tamale–super moist with plenty of meat, and just as good reheated the next day for breakfast with an egg on top. An excellent place to stop for lunch if you're in wine country, plus they have a nice outdoor patio.

Taqueria Los Primos Cheap, delicious, super filling. We got two carnitas tacos, two chorizo tacos and an horchata bigger than my face for a grand total of $12–plus it came with free chips and homemade salsa.

Oakland

Cactus All I'm going to say is go quickly and get the crispy chicken tacos. You'll thank me.

San Francisco

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Sweet Woodruff Not your typical taqueria, this coffee shop nonetheless had delicious breakfast tacos filled with bacon, eggs, queso fresco and pico de gallo. The iced coffee was pretty spot-on as well.

Tacolicious This relative newcomer is already a mini-chain in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and does not disappoint. I had the chorizo and potato, short rib and carnitas tacos and all were equally delicious (plus the avocado salsa made everything better.)

Would love to hear about your favorite Mexican places in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Chorizo-Potato Tacos

_MG_6528First off, thank you for indulging me and for your thoughtful comments on my last post. Still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, but rest assured, I will let you know. _MG_6509 _MG_6525

And now why you're really here: tacos. More precisely, chorizo & potato tacos with avocado-tomatillo salsa. Comes together in half an hour, doesn't require turning on the stove, and uses those pesky green vegetables that I love but always hesitate to buy since I'm not sure what to do with them. Plus, you can't really go wrong with the combination of potatoes and spicy sausage–a perfect August dinner, if I do say so. _MG_6532_MG_6521

 

Chorizo-Potato Tacos (adapted from Martha Stewart/Rick Bayless)

3 medium red-skin boiling or Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

Coarse salt

1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed (make sure it's not Spanish chorizo)

1 small white onion, finely chopped

3 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped

2-3 tablespoons lime juice

1 clove garlic

1 jalapeno, stemmed

1 1/2 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

Cornmeal tortillas, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine chorizo and onion. Cook, stirring often, until sausage is cooked through and onion is soft, about 10 minutes. If sausage has rendered more than a light coating of fat over bottom of skillet, pour off extra. Add potatoes, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until potatoes begin to brown, about 8 minutes. As mixture cooks, mash everything together a little with back of a spoon or a spatula, scraping up any crusty bits of potato, so that it roughly holds together. Cover, and keep warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine tomatillos, garlic, lime juice and jalapeno. Pulse until fine. Add avocado, and pulse until combined. Season with salt.

Wrap tortillas in a warm, damp kitchen towel, put them in a microwave-safe casserole dish, and cover. Warm in the microwave for 4 minutes, remove, and let stand a few minutes. Top each tortilla with potato mixture and avocado salsa, fold in half, and serve.

The Best Guacamole

_MG_4139Alright, that may be a bold statement. That said, I do think that this is a pretty great recipe, and it tends to disappear very quickly at parties. It's also easy to modify, if you want to throw in a handful of cherry tomatoes, or substitute fresh jalapeños for the pickled ones. Just make sure your avocados are perfectly ripe -- it makes all the difference. _MG_4165 This guacamole also goes very well with tacos or on sandwiches -- but my favorite way is the most simple, with some good corn chips and a beer, and summer doesn't feel quite so far away.

_MG_4144_MG_4159

The Best Guacamole

4 avocados, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

2-3 tablespoons pickled jalapeños, chopped (or to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup cilantro chopped

1 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper

Scoop out avocado from peel into a medium bowl. Add onion, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, and Sriracha, and mash with a fork until mixed together but avocado is still slightly chunky. Stir in lime juice and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Recently

As I am figuring out what exactly I want to do with this blog, I think I would like to do some smaller posts. Not necessarily restaurants, or recipes, or even posts with too many words. I have been trying to take more pictures on my phone since I don't always have my camera with me, so here are a few pictures from recent weeks (using Instagram, of course):

Fish Tacos with Avocado-Corn Salsa

In an effort to be slightly healthier, Ari and I have started making more fish. Of course, it's still battered and pan-fried, but still better than a steak, right? Or bacon? Anyways, we made these fish tacos the other night and they not only came together in half an hour, but they were also quite good. And you get your daily serving of vegetables! Everyone wins. Well, except the fish, perhaps. Fish Tacos with Avocado-Corn Salsa (serves 2)

2 filets mild white fish, such as tilapia

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 egg

Salt and pepper

For the salsa:

2 avocados, large diced

1/2 cup corn

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 red onion, finely chopped

1 serrano pepper, small diced

1/2 lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn tortillas

Lettuce, chopped (optional)

Combine first 5 salsa ingredients in a medium bowl. Squeeze lime juice over, then add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Place egg and cornmeal in 2 separate, shallow bowls. Season cornmeal with salt and pepper. Whisk egg slightly. Dip fish in egg, then cornmeal, coating completely. Sauté in a large frying pan until done, about two minutes per side.

After you have heated up the tortillas, place salsa, then fish (cut up) in the tortilla. Top with additional cilantro and lettuce, if desired.

That's it! Easy, right?