Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Review: Silva's Taco Shop -El Cajon, CA

Have you ever gotten to the point where you just had enough? Enough Fresh Mex, or Tex Mex, and enough thinking outside the bun, or running for the border? Well when you hit the crappy Mexican food wall, and you will because there is definitely more crap than the good stuff out there, you will need to find a real taqueria to redeem yourself.

Silva’s Taco Shop in El Cajon, California is one such taqueria. In fact The Last Bite feels that Silva’s Taco Shop is the ubiquitous taqueria. This is apparent in the appearance and décor of Silva’s. The exterior of the building is painted in bright yellow and red high gloss paint and is trimmed out in orange. To the right is the patio; the furniture is made up of painted cinder blocks and table tops and benches are tiled. The interior of Silva’s is incredibly void of any décor, in fact other than the menu board and the special; hand drawn on paper an taped to the wall, I don’t recall any specific details of the dining room at all. This type of environment is crucial for the proper execution of taqueria fare. I’m convinced the more refined the atmosphere the lower the quality of the taqueria food.

The food at Silva’s is the shining star of the taqueria world. For this review we ordered a few of the different specialties that they prepare. The Rolled Tacos and Carne Asada Chips are both indigenous to the San Diego area and don’t try to tell me that these are the same as Nachos and taquitos ‘cuz they’re not!

The Carne Asada Chips starts with a large plate (Styrofoam clamshell) of tortilla chips and piled high with sizzling, savory, carne asada; under that carne asada is the smooth and delicious refried beans. The whole thing is then slathered with sour cream and Silva’s specially prepared guacamole. A mountain of shredded mild cheddar cheese buries this entire delight. We recommend having a bottle of Silva’s house made red sauce in hand for liberal application during consumption. It’s a huge portion so bring someone with you because it is so delicious you might try to eat it all by yourself and that will hurt.

If you’ve never had a Rolled Taco you haven’t really been to San Diego. Like I said before; the rolled taco is the furthest thing from the sad little taquito. Picture a fresh made tortilla stuffed with Silva’s shredded beef, rolled into a cigar shape and fried until it is crispy golden brown. Take 3 or 5 of those babies and line them up on a plate for the next step; toppings. The whole plate is topped with guacamole, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and a fist full of mild Mexican cheddar cheese. Again keep that red sauce, or green if you prefer, handy because once you start eating these addicting rolled tacos you won’t be able to put them down.

My favorite item on the menu is the Baja Style Fish tacos. Silva’s version starts with their house made tortillas. They are over stuffed with crispy golden brown pieces of deep fried fish, lettuce, pico de gallo, and their creamy rich white sauce. It’s served with a couple of lemon wedges and a squeeze bottle of the red or green sauce. Be prepared to drip this all over your shirt as it is so wonderfully indulgent you won’t even bother to stop and clean up ‘til it’s gone. The combination of flavors and texture in this taco will have you wanting for more but they are so big one or two is the limit.

Finally, my old standby, the Carnitas Taco, what could be more perfect than hunks of crispy seasoned pork; nestled in two house made tortillas and stuffed with the classic taco fillings of shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. The only thing that could make it better are the roasted Serrano chiles that are served on the tacos. Douse liberally with red sauce and get them in your mouth for an unforgettable taqueria experience.

All these dishes are served with Silva’s house made “Hot Carrots” in escabeche , just tender and fragrant with herbs and vinegar, they are the perfect accompaniment to cut the richness of the food and spank the pallet with a bit of heat between bites.

If you are looking for an authentic taco shop experience and not some prefabricated wannabe Mexican food slop, visit Silva’s Taco Shop in El Cajon and tell we sent you from San Francisco!

Silva’s Taco Shop
998 Broadway
El Cajon, CA 92021
(619) 447-4196

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