31401 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
It has got to be an uphill battle for a Mexican restaurant to make a name for itself in San Juan Capistrano. A quick online search of Mexican restaurants in this small south OC city, which is bisected by the 5 Freeway yields 14 Mexican restaurants, and that's not counting Del Taco and Taco Bell. Most people probably wouldn't count those two fast food places anyway. My point is that in a Mexican food-rich city like this one, you have to get your name out there, and that's what Taqueros did recently when they invited a group of food bloggers, including us to try their food.
I had heard of Taqueros before when they used to be located across the street from the Mission Viejo City Hall. I had eaten there once and remembered liking it, but it was long ago. I also remember that they had an eating challenge, which I do not recall at this moment, but I and my friends from work had planned on doing it, but we must have forgotten about it before attempting it.
Taqueros is a family run business, which is owned by the Lezama family. They have had successes and some tough times in the restaurant business, but they feel they have finally found a home in San Juan Capistrano. The locals have really embraced them since they opened up here over two years ago. Taqueros describes their food as a nod to Mexico's past, with an emphasis on featuring modern flavors. They want you to feel like you are partaking in a home cooked meal, but with no dishes to clean up afterward.
Located a few blocks north of the mission, and right across from Junipero Serra High School, Taqueros was pretty busy on this particular late Saturday afternoon. Not only was this place crawling with food media, but they also had a steady stream of people coming in to partake of their pretty extensive menu. I was pretty impressed that this small restaurant had such a varied menu, which also included a large juice menu, which Katie took advantage of trying. She had this Jamaica ($2.29), which is a hibiscus tinged tea. It was fruity, but not overly sweet, which is the way she likes her beverages.
While Katie was enjoying her tea, I was excited to try the Tacos de Trompo, which Taqueros offers on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. These pork tacos originated in Central Mexico, and are cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a Trompo. The pork is marinated in dried chilis and spices, and then cut off the Trompo and placed in some really good house made tortillas and garnished with cilantro, onion, coriander and a slice of pineapple. The pork was juicy and flavorful after being cooked on the Trompo. I'm looking forward to coming back down here to eat about a dozen more of these pastor tacos soon.
Katie and I are big mole fans, so we wanted to give Taqueros Mole Poblano Enchilada ($3.49) a try. We are glad that we did. The mole here is complex, with a richness that can not be described. It's sweet and savory at the same time, but not overwhelmingly. This enchilada came filled with plenty of chicken and queso fresco and was drizzled with sour cream. I enjoyed dipping my chips in the excess mole.
I guess my Chilaquiles ($6.99) obsession of late has spread to Katie, as she tried it here. This is one of ten breakfast items on the menu at Taqueros, and all of them are served all day long. Breakfast for dinner is always a good choice. The chilaquiles were solid, but I would not have gotten my eggs over easy like Katie. I prefer the runny yolk to coat the chips and the red or green sauce. The portion size of this was very generous, and Katie had a hard time finishing this plate off.
I wanted to try as much of their food as possible and continued my tour around their menu with this Hard Shelled Potato Taco ($1.89) and a Carne Asada Taco ($2.79). The carne asada taco was delicious. I've been burned too many times by under seasoned, tough as sandpaper beef in Mexican restaurants, but that wasn't the case with this carne asada. The meat here was good and tender, and you actually could tell it was marinated well. Again, they were very generous with the amount of beef included in this taco, which is a plus in my book. Katie is all about potato tacos, which can be a little boring, but that wasn't true at Taqueros. The crunchy outer shell was a nice contrast to the tender spud inside.
By this time I was getting pretty full, but I had heard some good things about the Cubana Torta ($7.49), so I had to give it a try. This sandwich was stuffed with a very well done breaded beef, ham, a sliced up sausage, tomatoes, jalapenos, guacamole, onion, cheese, and beans. With all of this included, the bread was the real hero by keeping everything together. I liked this torta but was not too keen on the sliced hot dog that was used in this, but it was easily discarded. I also used a little of Katie's leftover refried beans to make this even better. I'd probably get the carnitas torta on my next visit.
I'm really glad that the folks at Taqueros reached out to us, and had us come down for a visit. Since we live so close, Taqueros will definitely be in our restaurant repertoire of places we eat when we want to stay close to home. We will also make it our mission to visit on nights that they feature their Tacos de Trompo. They were delicious. I also wanted to make note that this is a pretty comfortable restaurant to eat at. It was well lit and very clean. It's easy to see why the good people of San Juan have really embraced them.
For more information about Taqueros, head to their website here: http://taquerosmexicanfood.com/