The Great Taco Tour

The blog lives! Here’s a rundown of a taco tour my friends and I went on this Saturday. H did some research to narrow the taquerias in The Mission down to seven contenders, and we spent four hours bouncing around the neighborhood and gradually reaching our maximum capacity for crispy pork bits wrapped in corn disks. From worst to best:

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El Tasty Toro

After a semi-fruitful thrifting adventure in Ha/shbury, E and I trekked to The Mission for legit Mexican fare with a vegetarian twist. Throwing caution to the wind, we decided to go with the first busy restaurant we walked by, which turned out to be El Toro Taqueria.

Do poorly-positioned crooked photos bother you? Oops. I was a little rushed because people inside were scrutinizing me.

A clean, well-stocked bar to make all your burrito or taco dreams a reality. Guess what I'm getting installed in my kitchen when I grow up.

A super veggie taco with beans, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, tomato & salsa and a side of tofu ranchero (7) So fresh--I wish I could go back and re-eat this taco. The tofu was satisfying since I am actually made of 30% tofu, but the flavors were too similar to Chinese food. Lacking in Mexican spices and ultimately unmemorable. I love the option of getting it in a burrito for some extra protein, but I wouldn't get it on the side next time. But the taco and the salsas? They were as good as they look.

A custard filled churro (1.5) to round out the meal. For some reason, combining two freaking awesome foods into one did not work as well as I thought it would.

This meal made me realize I don’t eat enough Mexican food. I love that El Toro is extremely authentic yet veggie-friendly. Rumor has it that there are a few other taquerias with identical menus, so I’m going to check them out. But I’ll be back here, for sure.

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Gracias Madre!

S visited for two weeks during my birthday (or, as I like to think of it, for my birthday) and stayed with me most of the time. On one warm, January eve, we hit up Yoga to the People in the Mission (gorgeous studio!) with H and followed it up with some serene and spiritual Totally Inauthentic Vegan Mexican Food for Non-Mexican People at Gracias Madre. I’d been curious about this place for years, started by the same couple behind Cafe Gratitude, and after hearing mixed reviews finally got to try their organic vegan food.

At the least we caught the mariachi band while they were making their way down the street.

I'd been craving horchata all day, and the $5 on this small cup was worth it. Not sure if it's usually vegan, but this tasted no different than others I've had. The fruity sangria S got was a much more exciting choice.

Quesadillas de Calabaza Butternut squash and caramelized onion folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa (8). All three of us felt that every dish we ate could have held back on the salt. If you remember my visit to Cafe Gratitude, I had the same problem. With such delicious organic ingredients, there should be no need to over-season, and it makes me think they're trying to mask a lack of quality/technique. Which is absurd because it was delicious otherwise. Except that, wonderful mashed sweet squash complimented the creamy cheese sauce and chewy, thick blue corn tortillas. The pumpkin seeds were a perfect savory, crunchy contrast to the tacos. I've been seeing pepitas in many vegan Mexican dishes, and it never gets old.

Sseasonal greens sautéed with fresh garlic and chiles, grilled plantains, rice, beans and salad (10). A nice sampler plate, but elements of it were also too salty. This has been a consistent problem for a lot of people I know, so I doubt it was a slip of the hand. Otherwise, a very solid plate of food with good variety (and more of those bomb tortillas on the side).

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Another Daytrip to Santa Cruz

Who knows when I’ll go back again!

I am sleepy and have a ten hours of work today, so if you wanted to try back another time I wouldn’t blame you. After this weekend passes,my summer class will be gloriously ending and I’ll only have two jobs and internship applications to work on! Then I’ll be leaving one of them and going on a long trip to San Diego! Then…back to overwhelming workloads in the Fall. But I’m sure what really matters is I’ll be eating. What a lovely constant.

I’m going to post the food haps backwards, because I’m only reviewing the first place I ate that day. For dinner, we tried Mexican at Los Pinos:

free chips/salsa. I loved the large chunks of tomato/onion but this was the hottest salsa i've ever encountered. i don't like when food makes me feel wimpy

free chips/salsa. I loved the large chunks of tomato/onion but this was the hottest salsa i've ever encountered. i dont like when food makes me feel wimpy

my veggie taco, no cheese. i dont like corn tortillas either. avocado's looking a little meager. i dunno what the thought process behind this was, but they didn't have any salad on the menu

my veggie taco, no cheese. i dont like corn tortillas either. avocado's looking a little meager. i dunno what my thought process behind this was, but they didn't have any salad on the menu

so much better! M loved the crispified flour tortilla on her veggie burrito. it was so large/soft/warm, like a delicious baby.

so much better! M loved the crispified flour tortilla on her veggie burrito. it was so large/soft/warm, like a delicious baby. still, mexican food in the US is all the same ingredients in different combos/presentation to me

Marini's ice cream/candy shop is all over SC! Old fashioned, beach-side soda fountain vibe. This is a single-scoop sundae with strawberry/cake batter ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and peanuts. Ice cream was a little over the top, i'd go with vanilla next time

Marini's ice cream/candy shop is all over SC! Old fashioned, beach-side soda fountain vibe. This is a single-scoop sundae with strawberry/cake batter ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and peanuts. Ice cream was a little over the top, i'd go with vanilla next time

The place on my must-eat list this trip was a cute food kiosk in the middle of town called Alfresco, serving vegetarian/vegan rice bowls, wraps, salads, and sandwiches. Their menu is a dream for people like me who like to choose their food specifically.image002

i'm sorry this doesnt look less gross. she doused it in amazing lemon/tahini sauce

i'm sorry this doesnt look less gross. she doused it in amazing lemon/tahini sauce

For example, you can choose wheat/rice paper wraps or salads with 1-4 main ingredients out of their list of like, 15. They’re all different and unique, like eggplant caponata, marinated feta, shitake mushrooms, chickpeas, not to mention several types of nuts, tofu, veg sausage(!), etc. They make seven sauces that each sound delicious in their own right for your salad or to dip your wraps in. There was nothing I didn’t want to try on the menu.

As the picture shows, I created my own salad for 5 with an extra dollar for some warm brown rice on top – so it was more like their rice bowl. For the salad you pick five additional items and I chose sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, teriyaki tofu, roasted red pepper, and shitake mushrooms. The only thing I would’ve preferred  is more lettuce and fresh veggies in the salad. No more words necessary, I’m lazy and skipping to reviews

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