Baja Night 3.0 – Mexicali Taco & Co., Ricky’s Fish Tacos, Churro Borough of Los Angeles
1st St & Beaudry Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 9/10/11
Street food has been spotlighted more and more in LA the last few years, largely led by the popularity of gourmet food trucks. However, two of my favorite “street food” options are not trucks at all; rather, they’re sort of pop-up food stands. This weekend, Mexicali Taco & Co. and Ricky’s Fish Tacos teamed up in downtown LA to serve their wildly popular tacos with a dessert guest – the Churro Borough. This was the third incarnation of “Baja Night,” an event that continues to grow in popularity each time.
I’m far from a taco expert, but both Mexicali and Ricky’s serve some of my favorite tacos in the city (and I know I’m not alone in that opinion). I regularly visit Mexicali due to its convenient downtown location and the fact that they serve at night. Ricky’s is a little bit further (based in Los Feliz) and pretty much only serves the lunch crowd, so my visits there are far fewer. A chance to have both side-by-side was not to be missed!
Ricky (center) and team setting up.
Mexicali grilling their meats in preparation for the crowds.
The Churro Borough of LA setting up.
While food wasn’t served until 6pm, dozens gathered beforehand to secure a table and ensure they would be one of the first in line. I had heard that Ricky’s sold out of the elusive lobster taco quickly last time, so I made sure to come early too.
Ricky’s Fish Tacos
Lobster Taco, Shrimp Taco, Fish Taco
The fish and shrimp are regular options at Ricky’s, while the lobster is a special item that makes an appearance once in a while. I actually liked the fish best – the tender, flaky pieces of white fish were perfect with the light, crunchy batter. The lobster and shrimp didn’t disappoint though, with the characteristic spongy texture being a welcome change of pace from the fish. Raw cabbage, crema and a number of salsas were all available for customization. Hard to go wrong.
Mexicali Taco & Co.
As usual, Mexicali served three meats (chorizo, carne asada, chicken) in four different forms (taco, zuperman, cachetada, vampiro). Basically, choose the meat then choose how you want it. We got at least three of the variations on this night.
The cachetada is a tortilla grilled until crisp, with the end-product resembling a large nacho. Topped with meat, cheese and a chipotle aioli, it makes for a fun play on textures between the tender, chewy meat and crispy tortilla. I think the aioli really makes the difference though, adding a little kick in each bite.
The zuperman is basically like two tacos inverted on themselves. Kind of like a Mexican burger? That might be a bit of a stretch. Personally I prefer the individual tacos as they’re easier to eat, but I think it’s fun to eat it this way once in a while.
My favorite item on the menu. The vampiro is a just like a quesadilla, but with a garlicky sauce on the inside. The garlic flavor isn’t overpowering at all – there’s just enough to remind you it’s there in each bite. My favorite meat in these concoctions is chicken; the smoky, tender chunks of dark meat work wonders with the garlicky, cheese goodness. So simple, but this has to be one of my favorite items to eat in the city.
Bacon-Wrapped Cheese-Stuffed Yellow Pepper
Carne Asada Nachos
Two specials for Baja Night were the stuffed peppers and nachos. The nachos actually resembled a cachetada in a way, having many of the same flavors and textures. Unfortunately, I missed out on the stuffed pepper in the whirlwind of food.
The Churro Borough of Los Angeles
I think that this was the debut of Churro Borough, a mobile shop offering up churro-ice cream treats. I love fresh churros and ice cream, so I was eagerly anticipating what they had as well.
Small inch-long ‘nuggets’ of churros were filled with ice cream, then frozen. Three interesting ice cream flavors were on offer, including vanilla custard, spicy hot chocolate, and Spanish latte. Sounded promising, but I didn’t like these at all. The churro was soggy while the ice cream had an odd texture as I think the interior was still too frozen.
Ice Cream Sandwich
On the other hand, these ice cream sandwiches were made on the spot and were delicious. The churro was warm, sweet and flaky – totally what I was looking for. The ice cream (in addition to the three nugget flavors, horchata and blueberry-port creme fraiche were available) was much more apparent here too, and pretty tasty. The churro was just light enough so that you could bite into the sandwich and not have ice cream coming out on all sides. Really well done.
I had a lot of fun at this event. I knew the food was going to be delicious and it was great to have both Ricky’s and Mexicali side-by-side. The Churro Borough was a fun addition too, adding something sweet (that churro ice cream sandwich was memorable, for sure). If there was a slight drawback, it’s that lines were on the long side. Both Ricky’s and Mexicali can draw crowds on their own, so this wasn’t a surprise at all. If there is another Baja Night, I would expect the lines to be even longer…but it’s so worth it.