I hate to admit that there is a loyal following for what I like to call the “gringo taco” in this city. It kills me that many children’s only exposure to a taco is either a crispy shell with greasy, ground meat, shredded lettuce and cheese, or a piece of fried chicken smothered in mayo tucked in a flour tortilla.I recall Sunday morning taco brunches as a child with my Mexican-born father at the local carniceria. As I stared into the window at the various cuts of meat, the butcher would lop off a piece of chicharron for me to munch on. My father would always order us some tacos al pastor. We would sit together and eat these delicious “shepherd style” pork butt and pineapple roasted tacos at the counter, topping them with cilantro, onions, and salsa verde from communal bowls that had sat there all day. Yes, this was way before the era of neurotic parents armed with multiple bottles of hand sanitizer.
My father, or “Abu” (short for abuelito) as he is lovingly called, has continued the tradition with My Little Foodies. Every time he comes to town, he loves to take the kiddos to Las Tortas Locas. There is a thrill for him to watch his two grandchildren enjoy the street food of his youth. I love this taco joint for a number of reasons, including its authenticity, price, and cleanliness.
Do you ever notice the health inspection ratings inside dining establishments? I never did until My Little Foodies came into the picture (if you need an infectious disease doctor, I can give you a recommendation). A score below 70 is failing, and this little taco joint often scores near 100. I might even be comfortable with my children eating their tacos off the bathroom floor at this place. In all seriousness, the friendly staff keeps this place immaculate, including the delicious salsa bar. Fresh salsas from smoky chipotles, to crunchy pico de gallos, and everything in between, are stocked on a regular basis. My Little Foodies love the cold sweet potatoes with cinnamon, and macaroni salad with cilantro, both great to curb their appetite while we are waiting for our order at the counter. My favorites include the nopales (cactus) salad, just like my grandmother makes, and the spicy pickled carrots and jalepenos. All of these are great (and free) sides or toppings to the delicious and authentic tacos that are served just like the ones off the carts in Mexico – in two corn tortillas, topped with onions and cilantro. Tacos de pollo (chicken), de pastor (marinated spicy pork off the rotisserie), and de asada (grilled steak) are favorites. For a bit extra, you can add grilled pineapple and cotija cheese which is totally worth it. Top it off with a side of black beans and you still have one of the cheapest meals in the city.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the massive tortas or Mexican-style sandwiches served on homemade rolls (for which the restaurant is named). Stuffed with the same tasty meats used for the tacos along with refried beans, avocado, onion, lettuce, thick tomato slices, Mexican cheese, mayonnaise, and pickled jalapenos, the sandwich could feed an army. Wash it all down with a refreshing agua fresca including horchata (cinnamon rice milk), tamarindo (made from the tamarind plant), or jamaica (made from hibiscus flower).
One warning to parents – you might want to strategically position your kids away from the TV during dinnertime, since popular telenovelas (think overdramatized Latin soap operas filled with sex and violence) aren’t the most appropriate evening programming for the kiddos. The friendly staff will happily change the channel to a futbol match for you.
And like the food, the people are warm and authentic. No “gringo tacos” means very few gringos. Consider it your opportunity to brush up on your Spanish (I always do), and taste something else great this city has to offer.
Taco de Pastor (Marinated Spicy Pork)-$1.99
Taco de Pollo (Chicken)-$1.99
Chicken Soup with Rice, Potato, Carrot, & Chickpeas-$1.85
Side of Black Beans-$1.50