wherein the author pretends to be a food critic and falls short:
over the past few months I have been compiling an unofficial mental list of the best mexican places in santa cruz. above is a prime example of the kind of food I’m looking for: the machete taco from taqueria los pinos downtown. As you can see from the (mouthwatering) picture, it consists of only four ingredients: two corn tortillas, carne asada, sauteed onions, and a few wedges of avocado. with lime juice drizzled over it, the machete taco approaches my platonic ideal of mexican food, a meal where to remove any of the components would destroy its harmony, and adding anything would simply complicate it. the tortillas are fresh and soft, the beef perfectly seasoned and tender, onions add a sweet note and melt into the avocado, which is always ripe and rich. without the lime juice the tastes are slighly muddled, but the citrus bite adds needed clarity. and for $3.29 the price is perfect, too.
what? machete taco not doing it for you?
you want a burrito?
los pericos: get the carnitas, they’re wonderfully crispy and are generously diced so that sometimes you’ll pull out a huge hunk of melting pork and the joy you feel is mirrored by the giant void left in the burrito. brian points out that this cavity is ideal for flooding with salsa. plus, the self-serve chips and totally acceptable house salsa on the dry side (my preference for salsa) are pluses.
taqueria Michoacán: shrimp burrito is amazing, the shrimp are fat and juicy and the salsa they include is the perfect temprature for my sensitive gringo palette.
taqueria cabana: mushroom burrito is the best vegetarian burrito I’ve had, theirs are a little moister than normal but it works. the fact that they use entire caps really is what does it, because the meatiness of the fungus is a better substitute for meat than anything else I can think of.
tacos more your deal?
obviously, los pinos. machete taco, end of story. taqueria santa cruz has really good carne asada tacos with salsa verde, but I really only have eyes for the machete.
and guacamole, the king of condiments? los pinos, again. their ‘mole is more like a chutney, with giant half-mashed wedges of avocado, onions, cilantro, and plenty of lime. probably best guac I’ve had the honor of eating.
here endeth the lesson.