|Lucia's Tacos y Mulitas|
16952 Beach Blvd
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Listing on Yelp
Review in OC Weekly
No known official website.
(UPDATE: As of March 18, 2009, Lucia's has closed down. It has been rumored that it will open in another spot. If anyone has anyone information please leave a comment.)
Reprinted here with permission is ChubbyPanda's review of Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas, originally posted at his Epicurious Wanderer blog:
Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas (a.k.a. Lucia's Tacos y Mulitas) is one of those earthy, local joints that can be very intimidating to the uninitiated. Located at the end of a tiny strip of service stores and dwarfed by both the Valero gas station and the liquor store that share the same lot, it doesn't stand out. If you do happen to notice and decided to investigate, you'll be confronted by a cramped space featuring menus and specials heavy on Spanish, and a staff who are light on English. The clientele are a mix of day laborers, mechanics, blue collar types, and a few out-of-place office workers, such as yours truly. However, don't be scared by the rough customers, mismatched tables and chairs (often dirty), or the language barrier. For those who are adventurous enough, Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas offers a true taste of authentic Mexican street food that will delight the tongue and satisfy the stomach.
Here are some simple instructions for navigating Lucia's Taco and Mulitas:
Sounds complicated, huh? Trust me, it's worth it. Good gods is it ever worth it. Don't believe me?
- Secure a table. The place is small and they're in high demand during lunch. Bring a friend so one can guard the table and the other can order. You may need to wipe down your table and chairs, and bus any dishes from the previous diners.
- Check to see if your table has a salt shaker with salt in it. The salt is important, since the cooks prepare everything lightly salted so that you can adjust it to your liking.
- Figure out what you want to eat by reading the big menu on the wall. There are helpful English translations for most, but not all of the items. However, anyone who's lived in Southern California for a while should be able to suss out the rest.
- Step up to the cashier and order. Try not to mangle the Spanish bits too much. Pay immediately.
- Hit the salsa bar. Get lots of limes, containers of salsa, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, and salt packets (if you weren't able to score a salt shaker with salt when you got the table). Everything here is self-service. If you don't get it, no one will bring it to you.
- Wait and listen for the cook to call your order. It will be in Spanish and spoken very quickly, so listen carefully.
- When your order is called, go get it from the cook. It's eatin' time!
Take a gander at this gorgeous plate of tacos, each made using a fresh, flour tortilla hand-made by the cooks. On the right, a Taco Al Pastor. Spice-marinated pork is slow-roasted on a vertical rotisserie. Thin slices are shaved off, chopped, and used to generously stuff the tortilla. Powerful and piquant, it packs a pleasurable punch. I usually just hit mine with a squirt of lime before snarfing.
On the left is a Taco de Cabeza, which in this case consists of braised beef cheeks that are like none I've ever tasted. Rich with fat and gelatin, unctuously soft, and delightfully decadent, it flows across the tongue like the finest tendon and marrow. A little salt and lime juice adds a great counterpoint.
In the middle is a Taco de Lengua, filled with a juicy heap of chopped beef tongue that has been braised until meltingly tender, with a flavor like slightly rare rib meat. A dash of salt, some lime juice, and a little of their hottest salsa are all I need to make it perfect.
Those of you who are squirming can stop. Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas also offers the standard Carne Asada, Carnitas, and Pollo for any of their tacos, burritos, and platters. I'm just very fond of the nasty bits.
If you like tacos, but want to try something a little different, I highly recommend the Mulitas. These are essentially kicked up, meat-packed quesadillas made with fresh Queso (cheese). This one was a Mulita de Cabeza.
You can also try one of the Sopes. Your choice of meat is piled on a fried flour tortilla, covered with shredded lettuce and cheese, smothered in sour cream, and topped with a few tomato slices. Undoubtedly good, but also definitely not for anyone with a heart condition. This one was a Sope de Lengua.
The truly hungry should get one of the meat platters, which are essentially build-your-own-taco plates. You get a good-sized portion of the meat of your choice, Mexican rice, beans, a salad, a hefty wedge of queso, and a stack of five or six tortillas.
In addition to the configurable tacos, mulitas, sopes, and meat platters, Lucia’s also offers burritos and Tortas (Mexican sandwiches). However, their best dishes are their specials, which are printed on separate sheets of paper and taped up under the menu. For example, this Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp in Sauce of Garlic), which I rather enjoyed. The garlic, garlic, garlic, more garlic, and butter puree the shrimp were poached in may be a bit strong for some. However, I liked the kick, and made sure none of the sauce escaped the sopping power of my tortillas.
My favorite special is their Menudo, which is quite possibly the best I've ever had. Menudo is a soup made of all four kinds of beef tripe (cows have four stomachs, ya know) slow-cooked in a strong broth of chilies and other spices. While it has great flavor, Lucia's menudo broth is surprisingly gentle spice-wise...
...which is why I kick it up with lots of cilantro, onion, oregano, lime juice, and Chiles de Arbol (a common kind of small, dried chili). Ahhh... Heaven...
Lucia's Tacos and Mulitas - Authentic Mexican cuisine at amazing prices. Follow the steps and you'll be just fine. Don't forget to score some limes and salt.
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