Culture

Here Are Our Favorite Taquerias In California And Texas. Did Yours Make The List

So, we’re here to define the biggest question in the informal culinary world bar none… where’s the best tacos, Texas or California? The reality is, tacos are totally subjective and therefore impossible to judge who’s better or not, but, you gotta agree that this is one list you can’t miss. Just a piece of advice: keep some napkins handy for the drooling!

These succulent selections are not rated in any particular order, so if you happen to stumble onto any of them, dig in!

1. Petty Cash: California

pettycashla / Instagram

What would you think if a “taqueria” had a pre-fixe? This eatery on Beverly Blvd. in L.A. is tops on all sorts of treats, and. Well, being L.A., it has to have a good assortment of vegan stuff. And the big plus is the full bar; only drawback, it’s normally packed to the gills, so it’s a good idea to reserve ahead of time.

2. Vera’s Backyard BBQ: Texas

atxfoodguy / Instagram

The best part about this Brownsville tradition is that Vera’s is the only remaining barbacoa venue in Texas allowed by health officials to have whole cattle heads in underground mesquite. It’s so rooted in tradition that the process was grandfathered in. try the “mixta”, a little bit of everything in it. Oh, they only open on weekends!

3. Super Rica: California

Katie T. / Yelp

Delve into reviews of this unassuming place in Santa Barbara and you’ll be floored! Locals may have gone elsewhere, but the tourist bunch still flocks here for their taste, unchanged in over 30 years. Try the chorizo quesadilla… it’ll knock your socks off. Sometimes the wait can be over 30 minutes, but hang in there, it’s worth it!

4. Taco-Holics: Texas

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Located in El Paso, it’s almost a landmark of the bustling city, deeply rooted in Mexican-American tradition, and this is a local institution. Don’t miss the Carne Asada Fries, a smorgasbord of flavors. There’s even a vegan version with tofu. But, no disrespect, make an exception and top them with any of their signature meats, oh yeah señor!

5. Esther’s Taco House: California

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Placentia normally does not appear in many folks’ radar but get out of your route to savor some good stuff. Catering to a changing demographic, they also offer not-so-Mexican goodies such as fried pickles, but it’s the taquitos that make the detour worthwhile: rolled tortillas stuffed with your choice of meat, then smothered in guac.

6. Restaurant Nuevo Leon: Texas

Laura P. / Yelp

This Fort Worth restaurant pays homage to Monterrey’s signature dish, spit-roasted kid goat, “cabrito”, a Jewish inspired dish from the first days of Nuevo Leon. Weekends it’s jam packed with diners ready to tear into the many parts of the goat, even the head! Of course, for the less adventurous there’s normal Mexican fare.

7. El Gordo Taco: California

tacoselgordo / Instagram

If it comes from Tijuana, you know it’s gonna be good! Operating in Baja since the early 70s, they crossed into neighboring San Diego and swept town with their down to earth typical food; now they’ve also expanded into Vegas with their delectable meats, guac and downright goodiness in the shape of a taco.

8. Taco Deli: Texas

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Originating in Austin, with roots deep in Mexico City’s bustling taco scene, this place is now present in 4 cities throughout Texas and maintains the same standards from its inception in 1999: chicken, beef, pork and, keeping with Austin’s weirdness, there are extremely deelish vegan options. There’s an Akaushi ground beef if that floats your boat!

9. King Taco: California

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This taco sanctuary began as a food truck in 1974 and it is now grown to 20 locations, but with awesome taste and strict standards for quality. Select your filling from staples such as pastor – spit roasted seasoned pork, lengua – beef tongue, or suadero – slow roasted brisket. Better believe it… it is good!

10. El Come Taco: Texas

Melissa H. / Yelp

When it comes to tacos, they’re pretty much stuffed with the same cuts, but what sets apart the real winners is how the meats are seasoned and cooked. This Dallas establishment, a relative new-comer, has been steadily winning people’s stomachs since 2013 with its assortment of delicious, well-made and tasty treats that you should try RIGHT NOW!

11. La Taqueria: California

John L. / Yelp

When it’s hard to find a table right away, you know a place is good! And since 1990 this San Francisco Mission district spot is keeping patrons happy – not only with the ice-cold beers, but the savory guisos that stuff their tacos. Some reviewers complain they can’t rate the place higher that the max. By the way, these are traditional (meaning no rice) in tacos.

12. Gerardo’s Drive-In: Texas

Kelly C. / Yelp

A Houston commodity, Gerardo’s dates back to 1977, serving pork carnitas and chicharrones in a grocery store/restaurant/food truck setting that keeps folks coming for more. While barbacoa is only Fri-Sun, that doesn’t hinder people munching on the treats as the walk past the door. Guessing maybe only half of the order will get home!

13. El Matador: California

Randoll C. / Yelp

Rated by many as the “best in Hollywood, if not all of California” this LA place lives up to the expectations, especially with the carne asada and chicken tacos where the beef is fresh off the grill and the bird has been slow cooked in an assortment of spices and veggies. Don’t expect much in vegetarian options here; maybe the salsa. But give it a try.

14. Pico’s: Texas

Picos Restaurant / Yelp

Here, they claim to cover the seven regions of Mexican cuisine and boy, do they ever deliver! Ranging from seafood, hoagies all the way to tacos, and sides, there’s a boatload of options to choose from. Also, the cocktail and bar selections are amazing. Here, you can go from Baja up North, down to the Yucatan, then do it all over again!

15. Pinches Tacos: California

Yuna H. / Yelp

“Pinche” has a lot of connotations in Spanish, but the well-educated option is chef apprentice. Angelinos flock to this restaurant in West Hollywood for their tacos of all sorts, like the nopalitos – cactus paddles, pastor, asada and, of course being California, fish tacos. They round the offering with soups, tortas and sopes, all with Mexican flair bar none!

16. Taqueria Datapoint: Texas

Shawn W. / Yelp

Funny name for Mexican fare but, who cares? They provide real South of the Border comfort food in a San Antonio strip mall. Small tortillas make up their taco supply, always adorned by sides of grilled onions, guac and salsas. Depending on the time of day, it can get pretty hectic and service could be slow. But, hey, don’t complain; just eat sis.

17. Best Fish Taco In Ensenada: California

Ty W. / Yelp

Now that was a mouthful! The Baja style of fish tacos is ever present here with simple options: fish or shrimp, that easy! But they excel with the fixings to add onto your tacos, crema, salsas – including one made with radish, cilantro and most everything you need. They pride themselves in heating tortillas just right between crisp and soft.

18. Martinez Bakery: Texas

Brad F. / Yelp

Midland, in North Texas, has its good taco place at this mainly bakery shop combining well-made treats for lunch and dinner. There specialty are crispy brisket tacos, which people say are out of this world. No frills, easy to get to, but could get troublesome in busy times when the parking lot fills up. The bakery, with Mexican staples, is a definite plus!

19. Fat Fish Cantina & Grill: California

Kristen L. / Yelp

Located in San Diego, this place serves some mean shrimp enchiladas that are simple and plain good! Worthy of mention also is the carnitas in chile verde burrito in a super-size flour tortilla and all the trimmings. It’s California, so expect champagne along with your tacos, especially during the happy hour schedules that abound here.

20. Maria’s Café: Texas

Teofila R. / Yelp

This San Antonio taco place is only open until 2 p.m., so make it a plan to get there early enough to enjoy the best of their offerings. Homemade tortillas are the specialty here, as well as their breakfast sandwiches with beans, ham, egg, cheese and salsa. People from all over the country have sent raving reviews to this simple and unpretentious spot.

21. Tres Hermanas: California

Yao C. / Yelp

Located midtown Sacramento, the menu here is a mile long, and filled with scrumptious options so good that you’ll need a bib just to read through it! Tacos are both hard and soft shell, with chile rellenos – stuffed poblanos, being another savory opportunity to delve into true Mexican taste. They have carnitas, tostadas, combinations plates and more!

22. Orale Super Tacos: Texas

Orale Super Tacos / Facebook

Smack in the middle of the Rio Grande Valley, or RGV, is this hole in the wall taqueria that’s making people come back for more. And more is what they offer; their 14” Super Breakfast Taco is all you need to start your own legacy of returning here time after time. The steak quesadilla will never disappoint.

23. Maya Taco Truck: California

Donovan H. / Yelp

When a taco spot caters to the night owls closing until 2 am on weekends, it gotta be good, and it is! The offer a ton of typical taco meats like asada, birria, tongue, pastor, chicharron and even vegetarian options – it is California, y’know? Not much of where to sit down, but don’t worry, standing up you’ll fit a lot more food in your belly!

24. Manuel’s: Texas

Drew D. / Yelp

Right across the Causeway from So. Padre Island is this Port Isabel tradition where the food is plenty and the vibes are laid back as ever. People staying at the resort across the bridge make the pilgrimage to savor great options such as chilaquiles and machacado. As you seated, you get chips and salsa. Word of caution, though. Bring cash (there’s an ATM).

So, there you have it. Texas and California Mexican eateries worth trying out. If we’d have to pick a winner, well, that’s you folks!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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