Tuesday, May 16, 2017

No Surprise, Pie Leads Us to the Circle City

Casa Taquito
2721 Green RiverRoad #106
Corona, CA 92882

It seems that after a long absence of not coming out to Corona, we have made numerous trips out the 91 Freeway recently. This visit to the Circle City was initiated about three months ago when my family and I had a late night craving for pie and headed to Polly's in Yorba Linda. There we met a server, Albert, who after some small talk we discovered that his family owned a small Mexican restaurant in Corona, which he claimed to be the best in town. Always in the mood for good Mexican food, I jotted down the info, and it sat there for three months, but the stars finally aligned and I made the trip to Casa Taquito with my parents in tow.

Casa Taquito is located in the Sierra Del Oro Towne Center, at the corner of Serfas Club and Green River. This shopping plaza is anchored by a Ralph's and a Dollar Tree, and Casa Taquito sits almost right between them. We arrived here at close to noon on a recent Thursday, and I was surprised to find this small, 15 table or so restaurant pretty full throughout our stay.

This truly is a family restaurant. Run by the Ortega family for the last few years, they are residents of the Corona community and make a point to stop by each table to make sure everything is up to their guest's standards.  When we walked in, we were met by Albert, who was serving here this afternoon and was then headed off to work a night shift at Polly's. His mom and dad were in attendance running food, cooking in the kitchen, and probably making sure Albert wasn't burning down the place. Kidding Albert.

The menu here is pretty much what you would expect from a family run Mexican restaurant. I was actually impressed with the numerous menu options, based on the size of this restaurant. They have plenty of combination plates, tacos, burritos, seafood dishes, and other Mexican favorites. Of interest for us since we were here midday were the lunch specials. Let's see if Albert's claim of this being the best Mexican food in Corona was founded.

As is our custom when eating in a Mexican restaurant, we always want to share what the Chips and Salsa look like. These chips were pretty good and stood up to the salsa well. I like a little more chunk to my salsa, but the flavor of this was right on. Of course, a little more spiciness would have made this salsa even better in my book.

 Lunch specials at Casa Taquito include your choice of soup or salad. Both my mom and dad went the soup route. My mom favored the Tortilla Soup, even though it had peas in it, which she is not a fan of. My dad really liked the Albondigas Soup, which had a flavorful broth but was a little light on the number of meatballs included in the cup.

Instead of the soup, I got the Salad option with my lunch special. Albert told me that they make the copycat recipe of the cilantro and pepita dressing from El Torito, which is probably the only reason to still visit El Torito these days. I have to admit that they nailed this dressing, as it tasted just like the original.  The greens were topped with a few tomatoes, some shredded carrots, and jack cheese. I really enjoyed this salad, as it had plenty of dressing included, and the produce was nice and fresh. Good sized salad for a dinner salad.

Before showing up to Casa Taquito, I had done a little research online to see what people liked here. A good amount of people mentioned their Nachos ($7.49) so I knew I had to give them a try. This was the small sized version, which was more than enough for the three of us. The nachos were layered nicely with refried beans, cheese, guacamole, jalapenos, sour cream, pico de gallo, and shredded beef. Every chip was covered by something, which is the mark of a good plate of nachos in my book. This definitely could be a meal for some people, but we still had our entrees on the way.

I haven't seen my mom go back and forth about what to order for a long time. Usually, she is very decisive about what she wants, but this time she debated between the taquitos and a cheese enchilada. As you can see, the Cheese Enchilada ($7.49) won out. This enchilada came with plenty of red sauce, sour cream, rice, and beans. For someone that's not a real big eater like my mom, this was the perfect lunch size portion. She devoured the enchilada quickly and was pleased with the amount of cheese and red sauce included here. She'd get this again for sure.

Sensing my mom's anguish about her Sophie's Choice moment at Casa Taquito, my dad came to the rescue when he ordered the Two Taquito Lunch Special ($7.49). This way my mom could eat half a taquito, and not miss out. Who says gallantry is dead? My dad got one chicken and one beef taquito. He enjoyed the beef one a tad more but thought both were pretty decent. He'd probably branch out and try something else on his next visit though.

My benchmark item when eating in a Mexican restaurant for the first time is Carnitas ($8.49), and based on these, I left with a favorable impression of Casa Taquito. Not only were these reasonably priced, but the serving size was more than I was expecting for a lunch portion, and they were done nicely. I enjoy crispy tips on the carnitas, and this pork came to the table that way. Not a bad piece in the bunch and flavored nicely. This was one of the better versions of this dish that I've had recently, and I'd be hard pressed to skip it the next time I was at Casa Taquito. The beans and rice were pretty solid here as well.

I'm usually not a big fan of dessert in Mexican restaurants, but we tried two of them here. The better of the two was the Deep Fried Ice Cream ($4.99). A large scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in corn flakes and then drizzled with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. The ice cream was good quality, and I liked that the coating of the scoop was not overly crunchy and hard like other versions of this dessert tend to be. Also, I have to mention the very nicely done fried chips with a dusting of sugar and cinnamon. They were puffy and light and would be good on their own as well. The Mexican Homemade Flan ($4.99) was good, even to a non-flan lover like myself. It was not overly sweet, had a good solid structure to it, and was a favorite of my dad, who was very stingy allowing my mom and me to have too much of this. Maybe he's not as gallant as I thought.

Casa Taquito is a good, solid choice when craving Mexican food in Corona. If I lived closer, this restaurant would definitely be in my rotation of Mexcian restaurants I would visit frequently. They do all the standard Mexican items you have come to love exceptionally well, and at an affordable price point. Even for dinner no item comes close to the $20 mark, and their lunch specials are definitely a steal for the amount of food you recieve. Service was very personable and friendly, but also quick, which is what most guests probably like at lunch time. Be advised that they are not open on Sundays though. Glad our late night pie craving at Polly's helped us end up at Casa Taquito.

Out of five Aztec dancers, (because there's always Aztec dancers on Olvera Street in LA, which just happens to be the birthplace of the taquito in 1934), five being best to zero being worst, Casa Taquito gets 3 Aztec dancers.

Casa Taquito does not have a website, but you can find their location, hours, and more info on their Yelp page here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/casa-taquito-corona

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