Tacos are not tied to inflation; attempts at increasing the price of less desirable cuts of meat with hot chili…
About an hour south of San Diego traveling by toll road lies Ensenada, the Cinderella of the Pacific. What was once a fledgling settlement for Jesuits seeking to indoctrinate the semi nomadic Yumi people has become a cosmopolitan city of a half million thriving on a mix of military spending, shipping, and tourism.
A great many fantastic adventures in life are conceived in inebriation. The quest for the Lost City of Camello Gigante began like most stories, three young men in search of fortune and glory – yet what we found in the bygone region across the border was beyond our wildest dreams.
Earlier this month I heard from friend and head Sommelier at Osteria Mozza, Matthew Bostick that he was going on an impromptu adventure south of the border to drink wine in the burgeoning Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California. Not looking to be outdone I decided to drop my own wine key and head south to investigate.
As I’ve not been to Baja California I knew that I needed to enlist an expert and guide. I got together with good friend and newly minted beverage director for Broken Spanish (soon to debut in the old Rivera space) Michael Lay. With Mike (the fixer) on board, I immediately got down to the business searching for ways to make the trip as absurd as possible. ‘We leave upon the tail of the Hour of the Wolf,’ or something silly like that I recall texting Mike. “Ok cool I’m in, but what time is that?” 5am.
When people ask me why I moved out to Los Angeles I give a response that I stole from a friend of mine, but really encapsulates the truth of the matter, the authentic mexican food.
I grew up surrounded by Mexican cuisine and spent some time in Ciudad Juarez as well as Mexico City – this is a cuisine that I know fairly well and I am always keen to try more. The chef of Colonia Taco Lounge and nearby Bizarra Capital, Ricardo Diaz focuses on Guisados, cubes of meat cooked in sauce.
After trying to dine at Colonia Taco Lounge on a night in which we called and were told they would be open to arrive finding a closed restaurant, we arrived for our second attempt. Nothing makes me happier than taking 5 freeways to get to La Puente for tacos in rush hour from the West side of Los Angeles.
Colonia closes very early, and we felt the early shut down as tables and chairs were put up around us as we ate. I was happy to see a high quality Steven Segal movie playing on one of the television screens near the bar.
The meal is started by a fresh carafe of water with citrus which I felt was a nice touch. Colonia is one of those institutions that hasn’t figured out what kind of service it wants to offer, as you leave your table and order at a counter in the corner where the menu is displayed on a massive chalkboard. We frequently had to go back up to reorder and ask for more drinks.
I couldn’t really decide on cocktails, and the beer list was kind of all over the place. I generally don’t like beer in my cocktails but the Michelada was the best i’ve ever tasted – this includes the one I had while munching on tacos grilled on an old chrome bumper / oil drum in the mega-slum (worlds largest – 2006) Neza–Chalco–Izta.