Friday, May 30, 2008

Week 5 - Pokéz

Pokéz - Downtown San Diego

Eater #1: Veggie Taco, Beef Taco.
OK – All my blood is still in my stomach, the portions are HUGE. It’s nap time.
I ordered a couple of tacos, expecting, well, tacos. The Beef taco was regular size, loaded up with nice shredded beef, lettuce, tomatoes and a bunch of grated cheddar. The meat was good, but the taco shell was disappointing, similar to the boxed ones that you find in the white-guy section of the supermarket.
The veggie taco was killer… and it was a frickin monster. They made it in a fried flour tortilla, and it was loaded. Rice, beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes – and all of it was good. It also came with a side of rice and beans. Good beans covered in jack.
I nabbed a taste of the chicken off of another eaters tostada salad – next time that is what I’m getting. I don’t know how they made it, but it was damn good.
I was kinda surprised, Pokéz is a sit down restaurant. The wait staff was a bunch of 20 somethings – all tatted up. Real cool place, the late 80s tunes were blaring, the walls covered in original, indie art.
I’m going back, next time for chicken tacos and beer… as long as they don’t come in those crappy shells.

Eater #2: Combo 5 - beef taco, cheese enchilada, chili rellano, rice and beans.
God damn salsa was pretty god damn good. The god damn #5 combo of beef taco, cheese enchilada and god damn chili rellano, rice and beans was 6.8 of 10. The chili god damn rellano really tied the plate together and salvage what would have been an average tasting combo. The atmosphere was god damn unique with the different art stylings and tattooed staff. With a big god damn group of people the wait for the food was god damn long and combined with the tasty aromas from the kitchen, it was god damn hell. But at least the god damn waitress kept the chips and salsa full. All and all a great god damn place and would definitely eat there again with so many tasty things to try on the menu. Fin...god damnit. God save the Queen

Eater #3: 1 beef taco, 1 cheese enchilada, beans and rice.
The rice was a bit bland, but the rest was all top notch! My combo wasn't actually on the menu but the server was more than happy to accommodate. Oh and they have a good selection of vegetarian/vegan dishes, which is a nice option. The service was a bit slow, but my theory is that if you are going to a Mexican food restaurant you go for the food, not the service. The two servers I saw were both really nice, it was just a little slow. The food was good, which is what really matters. I'll be back for sure.

Eater #4: 5 Potato Rolled Tacos
Yum!!! I've been to this fine establishment before....many years ago.... because it was the only place that could make vegan food taste good! So, feeling nostalgic, I ordered the potato rolled tacos with a side of rice, vegan style. Basically this just means that they don't put cheese on it and everything is plant yucky beef oil. The diced tomatoes, onions, and cilantro that covered the top of the tacos was fresh, crunchy, and full of flavor. The tacos themselves were very filling, covered in guacamole, and I could only eat 4 of the 5. Great music, wonderful staff, reasonable prices. Love this place.

Eater #5: Chicken Tostada Salad
Great location, great prices and an excellent menu. Walked up to the restaurant and was instantly drawn to all of the "art work" on the outside of the building. Band flyers and stickers flooded the walls. I was regrettably unaware that Burlesque shows were held in the downtown vicinity. Salsa was excellent on my yummy Chicken Tostada Salad. I scarfed it down in no time at all. The bathroom was interesting. Instead of a handle on the door, there is a hole with a man's body drawn around it, so you are looking through his butt. Graffiti and more "artwork" everywhere and there are signs to the "shitter" to make sure you don't miss after all of the greasy tacos go through your system. Had to ask for our check, so maybe dinner might workout better. If you're not in a hurry that is.

Eater #6 - something with a chili relleno
If you ever wonder where the tattoed, pierced-in-the-most-ridiculous-of-places dickheads went to work after Tower Records closed down, visit Pokez on 10th St where they have been reincarnated to serve some tasty Mexican food.

After catching a whiff of one of the servers who wore a tank top to show off his bitchin' tats (and, who along the rest of the lot, served with the same indifference minus the cheekiness and gusto of a server at Dick's Last Resort) I chose to minimize the risk of infection from my possibly washed plastic cup by requesting a straw at the front counter. I'm sure the Pokez peeps are clean enough, but the body "art" made me naseous just thinking of the used and likely dirty needles that made their look possible. The sloppy paint thrown across canvasses and pocelain statuettes throughout the place (which might be considered "cool" by the artsy types) did not do anything to tell me this was going to be a fine dining experience.

It was the most delicious Mexican food prepared and served by shitheads that I've ever tasted.

I had the Number 14... a savory Chile Relleno that was unbreaded and cooked to a perfection which allowed the taste of the unknown, watery cheese-stuffed scrumptious chile to leave me wishing I ordered only that. The 14 came with the most succulent Carne Asada taco that, on a night of drinking Downtown, I would have consumed heartily. But earlier in the day I finished my lunch from Phil's BBQ from the day before, so I couldn't stomach the tortilla shell. Its flavor and Old Town Mexican Cafe texture was GREAT, but I didn't want to get filled on the massive double maize shell, being sober and all. Instead I dumped the contents out on the flavorful rice and beans. My gluttony was also sated by the chips and kick-ass salsa Tatoo Boy and Girl brought to the table while we waited 15 minutes for our lunch. Everything served was very good.

Reality: Very good food and the unwashed atmosphere made it feel like Lemon Grove hole-in-the-wall genuine Mexican cuisine. A great Downtown location.

What could be better: A walk up counter where you could pay individually and not have to worry about who owes what when the bill comes. Also, Pokez could use a self-serve salsa bar where you don't have to deal with Freddy or Fredericka Tattoo looking at you crosseyed when you ask for something.

On the outside looking in: I'm an asshole. Taking into account the complete douchebaggery of the art freaks and tatted up caricatures working at Pokez I'd give this place a solid "A" for really good food and a "C-" for atmosphere. The food was delicious and the best feeling was getting out of there. The same feeling as leaving a good shithole place in Mexicali except you exit into the streets of my beloved Downtown San Diego.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Week 4 - Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El Gordo - Chula Vista

Eater #1: 3 Tacos - Adobado, Cabesa, Asada - Horchata
From the few reviews I had some read, I high hopes for El Gordo’s and they did not disappoint. The menu features some tacos that I hadn’t expected.. like chorizo and brains. I remember eating cabesa when I was a kid, my grandfather would do whole beef head pit barbeque for large family parties. I had to try it!

The cabesa tacos at El Gordos were killer. The meat was tender and just a little spicy from the green salsa that was slathered over the top. The stuff just melts in your mouth. Next up was the asada taco – the meat had a smoky, peppery seasoning and perfect guacamole on top. Really good. I saved the adobado taco for desert. The spit that the adobado was cooked on was about 3 feet tall and 15 inches thick topped with a half a pineapple. The cook would soak the corn tortillas in the drippings from the spit before he filled the taco with the thin cut, red pork meat, a light green sauce, onions and cilantro. His hands moved too fast to see the entire process. Great, spicy flavor… damn it was good.

Hands down these were some of the best tacos I have ever eaten. If I was going to go crazy and try the brains – I’d do it at El Gordo.

Mas cabasa por favor.

Eater # 2 - 4 Adobado tacos
Tacos Mu Fuckin El Gordos. Al Pastor that I dub the best North of the border. The place smells appetizing from the time you step out of your ride and by the time you get to the order counter you’re ready to eat them out of business. Rather than do that I ordered 4 pastor tacos with the works (cilantro, onions, salsa, and creamy tangy green sauce). Fuck, now I want 3 more tacos just thinking about them. Mahalo & God save the Queen.

Eater #3 - 2 Tacos - Asada, Adobado - Horchata
You can't be afraid of the big stack of pork on the spit. The guy has a sword (this was no knife!) about 18 inches long, and just slices off juicy tidbits of the adobada directly onto the mini tortillas that he just warmed on the griddle. Then throws on some cilantro and onions, slops the salsa on top of that, wraps it up in paper and hands you your plate. I also got a carne asada taco, so walking through the open kitchen he passed the guy making the cabeza tacos, and went to the guy making the asada tacos, which had salsa on it and was similarly wrapped in the paper. Once I got my horchata I was ready to go. I went to the salsa bar, but alas there is no salsa bar, just two bins - one with sliced limes and the other with sliced radishes.
The adobada was tasty, the salsa complemented it well - there was a couple of pieces of fat, but what else can you expect from pork. With a little lime juice the carne asada was just as tasty, and pretty tender - not tough and chewy like it can sometimes be. I could have had one more of these tiny tacos, but 2 was sufficient.

Final word: Good, authentic food. Other than the distance, I'd go back.

Eater #4 - 2 Quesadillas, Coke
El Taco Gordo.....a bright yellow building in the middle of, what I would consider, a questionable part of town. I was pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness and hospitality that awaited inside. I know, I have set up this blog as an over privileged-snob, but I promise you I am far from that; just a little sheltered on life experiences when it comes to various neighborhoods in San Diego. El Taco Gordo is just the place for someone that would like to try a piece of TJ without leaving the states. With no more than a handful of items on the menu, the variety they offer is incredible. Just think brains, stomach, tongue....the list goes on. Being one that does not partake in red meat (they don't have chicken or fish), I was pretty limited on my selections. The staff was very polite when I ordered my quesadillas and even tried to hide their shock at my request for no meat. The tortillas taste home-made and the 'secret sauce' that they included was yummy. They also have grilled onions and cacti for those more brave than I. This is not a place for Vegans though, be warned. Great drink selections, a Coke place, and every Mexican whipped drink you'd like. Overall....completely enjoyable and a great atmosphere to enjoy some tacos (if you eat beef and pork).