Culture

Here Are The Best Taquerias California And Texas Have To Offer

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

tacos
CREDIT: 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

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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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: peetahkoo / Instagram

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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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!

Here’s The Story Of One Undocumented Family Torn Apart During The Devastating Attack On 9/11

Things That Matter

Here’s The Story Of One Undocumented Family Torn Apart During The Devastating Attack On 9/11

Robert Giroux / Robert Giroux

Luis Alfonso Chimbo and Ana Soria had come a long way since they met as children in Cuenca, Ecuador. They were married, living in Brooklyn with their son, and 34-year-old Chimbo was working for the Windows of the World restaurant–the very top floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Chimbo had been promoted to a management position in the receiving department that takes inventory and stocks supplies. They were living the American dream as undocumented immigrants in New York City. In August, Ana Soria suffered a miscarriage. He took nearly a month off to be with her and care for the family. 

He was due to return to work on September 11, 2001. 

The morning of 9/11, Chimbo got up at 5 a.m. and left for work.

Credit: “Luis Alfonso Chimbo at the Windows on the World restaurant in New York, circa 2000.” Digital Image. Time Magazine. 10 September 2019.

The night before, he set his clothes out for his first day back and prepared a bag. He was always prepared. Chimbo would usually kiss Soria as he got out of bed. That morning, he didn’t. Soria went to their window and said, “Goodbye, my love” as he drove away.

Hours later, while working at the restaurant, Chimbo was trapped on the top floor of the North Tower after a plane was flown into the tower.

The Windows of the World staff included immigrants from over 24 countries.

Credit: @JuedischeOnline / Twitter

The 9/11 attack killed 170 people in Windows alone. Chimbo was one of 73 employees who perished. Arguably, those employees were some of the least-paid victims of the attack, which presented a moral challenge for Special Master Kenneth Feinberg, who had to allocate the $7 billion in the Victims Compensation Fund. Five thousand five hundred and sixty people applied as injured or dependents of the deceased. Feinberg’s initial formula was based on “economic loss”–meaning families of stockbrokers would receive more money than Chimbo’s family. The formula also rested on the presumption that lower-income workers would remain in their earning class for the rest of their lives–the antithesis of “The American Dream.”

Stories like Chimbo’s made a “tremendous impact” on Feinberg’s new formula. 

Credit: @ayemojubar / Twitter

In fact, the owner of Windows of the World and the executive chef Michael Lomonaco testified to Feinberg on behalf of lower-paid employees with a high potential for further promotions. In the case of Chimbo, they gave Feinberg evidence that he started out as a stock boy and grew to become a manager in the receiving department. “The structure of the restaurant reflected the American Dream, which I don’t use as a cliché but as an actual possibility,” Debra Steinberg told Tom Roston, the author of “The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World.” 

Steinberg represented Soria along with thirty-seven other Windows of the World workers. “When you drill down into the stories of the immigrants who worked at Windows on the World, most of them said that it was the dream job. They walked with pride in their step. It was an astonishing place.” Feinberg told Roston that he used “discretion to bring up the lower end worker and reduce the stockbrokers and hedge fund managers,” granting higher payments to lower-paid victims of the attack.

A dozen of the Windows workers were undocumented.

Credit: @jonthompsonDC / Twitter

Feinberg looked to the congressional statute that allocated the funds and said it became clear. Documentation or nationality was not a factor into who becomes a legal victim and who does not in the eyes of the United States. The fund was for all victims of the attacks. 

As an undocumented person, Soria was terrified to ask for help in the days after the attack.

Credit: @Sept11Memorial / Twitter

“I was scared,” she says in Roston’s book. “[And] I was thinking that maybe I did not deserve it because this was not my country.” Finally, it was her son that prompted her to recall that at least he is deserving of medical care. Amidst the terror, her son needed asthma medication, so Soria went to Manhattan. Still, she doesn’t remember much about that day but remembers the help of fellow Americans to ensure her family got what they needed.

Would undocumented immigrants be met with the same courtesy today?

In the decades that have since passed, Soria has become a chef.

Credit: Luis Eduardo Chimbo

She was taking culinary lessons at the time of the series of tragic life events –the miscarriage, the terrorist attack, the loss of her husband. Six years after 9/11, she returned to culinary school. Fifteen years after 9/11 tore her family apart, she received a green card. Her son has become a photographer and captured the above image of his mother.

She goes to the North reflecting pool every year on 9/11. Last year, she went on his birthday and left a flower and a birthday card which read: “To the love of my life, happy birthday to you. Surprise, you didn’t know I was coming.” 

READ: Three Years After Cancer Diagnoses, Luis Alvarez, A 9/11 First Responder, Dies At 53

Yalitza Aparicio’s Appearance Alongside Hollywood Veterans In Rodarte’s Spring 2020 Lookbook Proves She’s Still Rising

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Yalitza Aparicio’s Appearance Alongside Hollywood Veterans In Rodarte’s Spring 2020 Lookbook Proves She’s Still Rising

Back in February of this year, “Roma” actress Yalitza Aparicio dominated fashion headlines after her appearance on the red carpet of the Oscars. The actress made her first appearance at the 91st Academy Awards as a Best Actress nominee for her breakout role as Cleo a maid of Mixteco heritage working for a family in Mexico City during the early 1970s. Aparicio had already had a big night, not only had she nailed a coveted nominee slot, she’d done so for her first role ever in a movie. And while awe over her talent was much talked about, it was the mint-green and silver metallic tulle gown she wore by Rodarte that caught so much attention.

The fashion brand has long been an established designer on red carpets but there’s no denying the actress has helped raise interest in its designers. The red carpet match of the designers and the actress proved not only to be a success at the Oscars, but it also proved worthy of a lasting partnership.

For the fashion brand’s latest lookbook, Aparicio was selected as a model.

The rising star wowed in the brand’s dreamy fashion shoot.

Aparicio appeared in the Spring lookbook in a polka-dot belted black and white dress and a pair of sheer gloves studded with pearls which also speckle her hair. She modeled the dress in a magazine that featured Hollywood veterans such as Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst.

Aparicio appeared in simple colors and extravagant gowns.

For her other appearance, the actress could be seen wearing a black and white plaid dress that featured a ruffle color and puff sleeves.

Of course, it didn’t take long for reactions to Aparcio’s appearance to set fire online.

Fans of the actress were quick to call her a “reina” and other celebrities including “Mad Men” actor January Jones, who also appeared in the shoot, commented “Love. ❤️”

Aparicio’s feature is another reminder, that the indigenous actress has her heels dug into Hollywood and the fashion industry and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Back in January of this year, Vogue México honored the actress with a feature and photoshoot that served as an ode to her culture and home state of Oaxaca. Not only was she featured on the magazine’s cover, but she was also thrown a party at the Patio del Huaje en el Jardín Etnobotanico in Oaxaca.

While the finicky nature of Hollywood and its attention to actresses of color has a strong pattern, Yalitza’s star does not seem to be dwindling. In fact, her appearance in the lookbook nearly seven months after her appearance at the Oscars, and without any announcements of new roles, proves she must have a lot coming up for herself.