Tag Archives: Mexicali

GTD This Weekend: LA Fetes Baja and Sammy Hagar

This weekend: Baja Night 2.0, post-St. Patrick’s Day beer-ing, and a little running.  Or not.

SATURDAY

  • The last time Ricky (of Ricky’s Fish Tacos) and Mexicali Taco Company teamed up at a parking lot downtown for Baja Night, everyone from families to foodies came together to nosh on giant lobster tacos (courtesy Ricky) and generous cachetadas (courtesy Mexicali).  The second edition of Baja Night (Baja Night 2.0) is on Saturday night, and Ricky promises more lobster tacos and a secret dish that he told me about here.  Eating Ensenada-style fish and meat tacos in a parking lot under the warm glow of the downtown skyline and the biggest, brightest moon since 1983.  If that’s not eating in LA, I don’t know what is.  $Pay as you go.  The night starts at 6pm at the parking lot on 1st and Beaudry.
  • My dog is not the only one celebrating a birthday on Saturday – The Egyptian Theater also is celebrating what would have been Sid Grauman’s 132nd birfday. Grauman found a few of the most iconic theaters in LA, including The Egyptian and the Chinese Theater.  There will be a lecture about his life and career, a birthday cake, and a screening of Forever Hollywood, a documentary about – guess! – Hollywood.  $9-11.  The party starts at 2pm at The Egyptian in Hollywood.
  • Beer is the new wine.  Finally.  Cases in point: not one, but three, events focused on the suds are scheduled for Saturday.  First, Angel City Brewery officially opens its doors downtown.  There will be beer, of course, and food trucks, of course.  Second, Bakelab and The Surly Goat will host a Beer & Pretzels Lab in which you will learn how to bake pretzels and how to pair said pretzels with beer.  And third, City Sip hosts a How to Home Brew class in which you will learn how to make an IPA.  Gives new meaning to BYOB.  Angel City Brewery’s party starts at noon at its new digs at 216 S. Alameda in the Arts District Downtown. $75 for Bakelab + Surly Goat’s class, which goes from noon to 3pm at Bakelab’s kitchen at 705 Vesta St., Inglewood. $50 for City Sip’s class, which starts at 1 at City Sip, 2150 Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park.
  • Descanso Gardens hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  There will be Japanese tea ceremonies, cherry trees on sale, and guided walks through the beautiful grounds.  Given everything that’s happened, this event will likely take a somewhat somber tone.  :(  $3 children, $6 seniors/students, $8 adults.  From 10am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday at the Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge.
  • Snow in LA?  No, I’m not talking about a few weeks ago.  Long Beach is having a Snow Day, hauling in 10 tons of fresh snow to a park for you and the kids.  Make snow art, go sledding, and pretend you won the lotto.  Free.  11am to 3pm at Whaley Park, 5620 Atherton Street in Long Beach.
  • MEN.  Make music.  Genderfucking.  $12.  8:30pm at the Echoplex in Echo Park.

SUNDAY

  • Runners will be taking their mark around 6am; the rest of us slackers will be sleeping and wake up to this interactive Google Mapped version to see what the runners have been doing all morning.  The LA Marathon runs (heh) from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica; check out the road closures and plan to sleep in accordingly.  Running from one side of town to another?  I guess that’s one way to save gas.
  • Non-runners, forget your guilt about being not being able to run one mile, much less 26.2, and just head over to Domaine LA’s Anti-Marathon tasting.  The wine shop will have a tasting, and the Get Your Lardon truck will be on hand with the bacon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few unexpected guests with their own bibs happened to show up on their way to the ocean.  1pm to 4pm at Domaine LA, 6801 Melrose Ave.
  • As it is the first day of spring, Griffith Observatory will hold two “Spring Equinox” events, one at precisely 1:01pm and another at 7:05pm.  I’m not sure what exactly these events will entail, but does it really matter?  A day at the observatory for any reason is a great day.  Free at the Griffith Observatory.
  • Sammy Hagar, the Van Halen frontman who defined rock for the ages, wrote a memoir.  It’s only fitting, then, that Hagar shows up on the Sunset Strip at Book Soup to sign copies of his rock odyssey, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.  Note that this book is the only thing he’ll sign, so leave the pieces to your smashed axe at home.  5pm at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
  • The Museum of Latin American Art celebrates the contributions of women in art with its annual Women’s Day Festival.  There will be workshops, food, music, poetry readings, and a spotlight on artisan female jewelry designers from Brazil and Mexico.  Best of all, the event is part of Target Free Sundays, meaning you get admission to the museum on Target’s dime.  Free.  1 to 4pm at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Avenue in Long Beach.

“Early Morning, Santa Monica” by Renee Rendler-Kaplan via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

Ricky’s Fish Tacos and Mexicali Team Up for Baja Night

I’m not one to get all Noah’s Ark on you and proclaim that the best things come in pairs, but sometimes – sometimes – they do.  Ninety-nine dollar Simple Human waste receptacles + Hefty; Mulder + Scully; French fries + Ooegy Gooey — all great pairs.  On Saturday night, add another great duo: Ricky’s Fish Tacos + Mexicali, bringing Baja to Beaudry + 1st.

+  

Mexicali’s chorizo cachetada + Ricky’s fish tacos

Both Ricky and the guys at Mexicali are tenaciously intent on bringing authentic, Baja-style tacos to LA and are cooking up some mad delicious tacos to show us what we’ve been missing.  Ricky fries fish and shrimp tacos at 1400 Virgil on most days (see Burns! review here) while the guys at Mexicali use a parking lot on 1st and Beaudry to cook up meat tacos, quesadillas, and whatever else strikes their fancy on Wednesdays through Saturdays (see my review here).

Both, however, will interrupt their regularly scheduled programming for Saturday’s Baja Night.  Starting at 6pm, the two will go Justice League on us and combine their respective strengths: you’ll find Ricky frying his fish and shrimp alongside Mexicali grilling their carne and chorizo at Mexicali’s parking lot spot on 1st and Beaudry.  Pick up a lovely fish taco from Ricky, then wash it down with a cachetada from Mexicali.  Stick around a little bit to digest it all, then go back for more.  Maybe try a shrimp taco paired with a vampiro?  Or a shrimp taco with nachos con carne?  Noah aside, it will have to be a polyamorous night.  The Baja food gods wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Best Pop-Up in the City: Mexicali Tacos

This is LA.

I know pop-up restaurants are all the rage – witness LudoBites and Test Kitchen LA – but let’s stop for a moment and pay homage to their humble origins: the taco trucks and food carts that pop up in the streets and intersections of the city, only at certain hours, and sometimes (but not always) at the same location (depends on the parked cars and the police activity).

I’ll be honest with you: as much as I would like to claim some street cred and tell you that I grew up around these OG pop-ups, I’m really just a Viet kid who didn’t realize that tacos from Taco Bell were bastardized, homogenized versions of the real thing.  When I moved back to LA a few years ago, I had to go through a sort of re-education, swish a little water and wipe the palate clean.  I listened carefully to wiser Angelenos and ate up at a little shack on Lincoln called La Playita; listened to The Great Taco Hunt-er and discovered Tacos La Fonda located in the first of many taco trucks parked unironically at a car wash.  More recently, I discovered – along with Burns! – Ricky’s Fish Tacos, a man whose fish and shrimp tacos are so flavorful and unabashedly Baja that you sort of just want to Kodak moment your last bite of the gently battered fish still smoking in the softly folded tortilla.  So, when Ricky told me about a taco stand set up in a lot at 1st and Beaudry, I knew I had to go.  You can’t trust everyone’s palate, but (as my friend Dana rightfully pointed out) a taco’s man taco stand?  Is like a thinking man’s bookstore.  Yes.  I want to go to there.

Mexicali.  Take your pencil, start at Tijuana, and draw an almost straight line going east. About three-quarters of the way to an imaginary southern extension of the California-Arizona border, you’ll find yourself in Mexicali.  Mexicali-the-place is the capital of the state of Baja California; appropriately, then, Mexicali-the-taco-stand channels its geographic namesake and serves up Baja-style meat tacos, with flair.   Two guys run Mexicali-the-taco-stand, and they offer 5 things (on the menu) (off the menu items to be discovered like badges on Foursquare).  All five (or more?) things are served on homemade – yes, beautifully homemade – tortillas.  If there are enough of you, you might as well order one of each and MacGyver a tasting menu for yourselves, but I concede that can be overkill for the first time.  Let’s make things easier and say you must order the cachetadas (tostada + melted cheese + meat + aioli chipotle sauce, $2.50).  If you can’t visualize this tasty concoction, well, here’s one, almost ready to be plastic plated:


I had mine with chorizo, and added the appropriate condiments.


Usually when you order something (anything) with chorizo in it, you end up with a soggy, oily mess.  Not so here – the chorizo was tender, smoky, flavorful, and held its own without leaving its mark.  There was no yellow-orange mess.  Combined with the melted cheese and chipotle sauce, it was meaty, a touch spicy.  Delicious.

I also had the Vampiros with carne asada.  The meat here too was delicious – juicy, not too fatty, and plentiful.  The garlic infusion kicked the quesadilla up a notch.  In your world of vampires, you can keep your Jacobs, your Edwards.  I’m on Team Mexicali and its smoking hot clan of Vampiros.

Eating his words, Ricky happened to be there as well, hungry after a full day’s work behind his fryer.  While we ate, he mused that you’d be hard-pressed to find a fish taco in Baja after dark.  Because most places use fresh seafood (a novel idea, I know), they close as soon as the last catch of the day is brought in.  After about 6pm, sometimes even sooner, it’s all meat.  Going from Ricky’s Fish Tacos in the afternoon to Mexicali at night, then, is the Baja way to go.

After my two plates, I was surprisingly full – they are super generous with the portion size and the filling meat.  Hoping to get over my full stomach to try something else, I poked around and discovered that they cut the meat on a tree trunk.  Nothing screams authentic more than the well seasoned wood of nature.

Total fail on my part: I stayed full, which means I’m going to have to go back for the Zuperman.  And another cachetada.  I’m going to have to make it soon, though: their location on 1st and Beaudry is semi-permanent.  They know they have the lot today and tomorrow (8pm-midnight), and they probably will have it next week, but it’s not set in stone.  Follow them on Twitter for more exact details, and find them at the tip of Downtown before they’re up and gone.  Like every great pop-up in the city.