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SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudo

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Taco Factory - Review #3

Taco Factory
14455 Newport Ave (Corner of Newport and Walnut)
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 731-1111 (accepts phone orders)

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Here is our first guest review from Judy Asman, who has appropriately nicknamed herself Judy the Foodie and has a web magazine called The Astute Recorder:

If I only had a $1 left in my pocket, I'd scrounge up some change and buy a Taco Factory taco on Taco Tuesday.

So the story goes, in 1983, Taco Factory ("Tacos al Carbon") in Tustin opened on the corner of Walnut and Newport. Soon after, various other small Mexican food joints opened by the same owner, all of which he (or she) sold.


If my account of the restaurant's history seems vague, it's all thanks to my faux and inadequate investigative reporting venture while talking to one of the employees. While the friendly cashier was informative, there were several details she could not confirm.

For one, she couldn't tell me who the original owner is and where the other "original" locations are. She could, however, tell me the Tustin Taco Factory is not affiliated with the Taco Factory locations in Irvine—which Christian has reviewed before—and the Tustin Taco Factory has been owned by the same folks for about 10 years.


When I first started eating at Taco Factory in 2000, I was introduced to its high-value $1 tacos on Taco Tuesday. Completely impressed with the freshly grilled carne asada—both tender and free of lard clumps (can I get an Amen?)—I now find myself to be a Taco Factory obsessed patron regular in the purest sense of the word.

What keeps me coming back?

Most of the dozens of times I've eaten at Taco Factory in the past nine years, I've ordered the carne asada tacos, and I eat them the same way, all the time: spicy pico de gallo, which TF features from mild to extra pica, spread over the meat with a few dashes of salt. Then I dip my freshly deep fried corn chips in for the kill. I enjoy most of my tacos as this kind of chip-dipping experience, then, when there's just the right amount of meat, I pick up the meat filled corn tortillas to eat them as tacos. It's truly divine.


Equally as enticing are the carnitas (pictured)—juicy, flavorful and boasting a saltiness and texture reminiscent of Kalua pork. Because I am a Pacific Islander, the latter description earns Taco Factory's carnitas tacos a double thumbs up from me. These I enjoy with hot red salsa topped with diced onions and cilantro, then—once again—with another chipping dipping until it's bite-sized taco experience.


The cod fish tacos are just as meaty and chicken tacos are transcended from typically boring to tasty and plentiful when blended with any spicy delight from the salsa bar.

Just about the only thing that seems to have changed since I first became hooked on Taco Factory is the price range. Tacos are now $1.29 on Taco Tuesday ($1.85 every other day) but one can still get a meat and cheese filled burrito (the famous burrito) for less than five bucks ($4.75). This popular dish comes with fresh guacamole, which is fresh and creamy, featuring the cuisine's signature flavor of cumin.

The wet burritos ($5.29) are worth blowing any diet for. The red sauce has a mouth-watering tang and the right amount of melted cheese accenting the green onions and diced red pepper on top and ample meat filling.

I've had just about every dish on Taco Factory's menu (while getting friends and family members hooked along the way), except dishes implying healthy eating (taco salad, tostada, vegetarian taco … you get the idea). But rest assured for interested parties, these items are on their menu with the highest priced of those listed as the taco salad ($5.49).


Taco Factory can even make a quesadilla sing. These tortilla and cheese favorites come in small or large sizes. The quesadilla is straight up a tortilla with cheese (small, $2.69 and large $3.59) with the quesadilla plus that includes a meat (small $4.29, large $4.99). Given the price, it's worth it to order a large quesadilla plus (scrumptious with jack cheese and carne asada), which can pretty much account for two meals.

Other than the prices, everything else seems to be the same at Taco Factory—the cooks, the cashiers, the salsa bar, the interior, the daily specials and yes—the Taco Tuesdays. This is a good thing for folks like me who look forward to the hearty and affordable eating experience. If anything, Taco Factory in Tustin seems to have its finger on the pulse of recession-proof restaurants all thanks to a formula that works.

Judy "the Foodie's" hot (salsa) tip: Mark your calendar on your birthday. If you show your I.D. at Taco Factory, you will enjoy a free lunch on them! Also there are daily specials seven days a week and lunch and dinner platters ranging from $3.50 - $7.00.


One counter on the inside. Plenty of tables out in the patio.


A few spaces right in front but the eatery is in a small strip mall where there are more spaces. Some street parking in front. One space for handicap parking.


Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Payment: Cash and credit cards (minimum order $5)


melissa said...

These guys are so close to my house, I really need to try them again. Thanks for the reminder. I'll follow some of Judy's suggestions.

Judy "the foodie" said...

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, Melissa! I passed it often before finally trying it. The exterior is pretty understated, I probably would not have eaten there had it not been for a recommendation.

Johan said...

taco factory isn't that great. they aren't as big as judy was talking about, not cheap at all ($2 for a taco, c'mon!), and the taste is not what a taco should be. if you want a real taco, try carnitas los reyes (near the intersection of tustin and chapman in orange) the tacos are as big as taco factory's and cheaper! (only $1!) and the carnitas and the refried beans ARE TO DIE FOR!

ChristianZ said...

We have a review of Carnitas Los Reyes. This blog is about all the Mexican restaurants in the county, not just one.

Dr Mo Q said...

I have been going almost weekly to Taco Factory for over two years and I like it! Unlike Judy, I have not tried most of the dishes there. I usually get the special of the day consisting of drink, entree, rice and beans for less than $6. I like the beef but am not too fond of the chicken (too bland). If you ask for beef at this place, you get steak not ground beef.