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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tacos Ensenada - Review #1

Date of Visit: November 17, 2007
Tacos Ensenada
24601 Raymond Way
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 583-7711

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Tacos Ensenada - Exterior

Went with James, Lori, and Thomas a couple weeks ago to a place they recommended and knew how to get to but couldn't remember the name of. Described by James as "a hole-in-the-wall but a big hole-in-the-wall" it ended up being Tacos Ensenada in Lake Forest. Better brush up on your restaurant Spanish before coming here since you won't see anything in English once you arrive and chances are the person taking your order won't know English. If you really don't know any Spanish though don't be scared off because many of the menu items are pictured on the wall (good for people like me who like to see what they are ordering before it arrives at the table).

Tacos Ensenada - Interior
Decorated for Christmas

In my continuing quest to come up with a concrete, authoritative definition of what makes Mexican food authentic, or inauthentic as the case may be, one conclusion I have come to is that a restaurant's authenticity goes up when they sprinkle cinnamon onto your horchata after you order it (as opposed to just having it in the mix), or dumped on as was the case here:

Tacos Ensenada - Horchata

And, no, I didn't put Tapatio in my horchata.

Lori ordered the chile rellenos platter which is really two chile rellenos and exclaimed how spicy hot they were. James, who has a higher tolerance for spiciness, then tried a bite and said it was almost too hot even for him. So, if you like really overtly spicy chile rellenos then this is the place to get them from.

Tacos Ensenada - Chile Relleno

Two-year old Thomas didn't complain about his quesadilla kid's platter being too spicy hot:

Tacos Ensenada - Quesadilla Kid's Platter

I went for the parillada de mariscos ($13.95), an artfully presented seafood dish with halibut, scallops, oysters, shrimp (some with the eyes still attached), and octopus, as well as avocado and orange slices:

Tacos Ensenada - Parillada de Mariscos

As mentioned above, I like to see pictures of dishes I'm thinking of ordering before I order them and when I saw the picture of this seafood platter on their wall I was sold. The taste matched the image with everything fresh, nothing too tough and chewy (as octopus can tend to be), and big enough to share.

Tacos Ensenada earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

6 comments:

Johnny Automatic said...

I was thinking about this place the other day and wondering if it was still there. Used to eat there years ago when I had a job nearby. I remembered the food being about the only authentic stuff in the area at the time. It looks like they cleaned the place up from your photos. It was a little scary looking before and a bit run-down.

ChristianZ said...

Yep, it's still there and while not immaculate it's also not grungy. And I was going to mention that it's like an oasis of authenticity considering its location.

Chubbypanda said...

Awww... Tapatio is the only way to spice up a horchata.

Anonymous said...

Food is Great and prices are good.
My Buddies think so too!
Mike & David and let's not forget John B.

Ralphy

From Toshiba "ATS"

albatross said...

Every Mexican resturant in Orange County that I have tried could take a lesson from this place on what a great salsa bar should be. Great taste and variety.

ChristianZ said...

Yeah, they have a great salsa bar there.