1101 South El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
Since we live in the land of great Mexican food, it's understandable if some places get overlooked. That's kind of how I feel about Sancho's Tacos. I had recently heard about them from a coworker, who had asked if I had tried them. I said I had not, and immediately looked up their info.
Just checking out their locations I was a little surprised I had not eaten at one of their four OC locations, (they also have an outpost in Oceanside for those of you reading this farther south). Sancho's has locations in some of my favorite cities; Newport, Huntington, Laguna Niguel, and the city where we visit almost weekly to walk the beach trail, San Clemente. I actually had to use Google Maps to find out where their spots were in these cities. I decided right then that we needed to try them out the next time we were in San Clemente, and that happened just a few days later.
Sancho's Tacos is a little south of the majority of the business district in San Clemente. Just past Ralph's on El Camino, and sandwiched between a florist and Biggies Burgers. You can't miss the huge sign that stands above El Camino Real in this part of town. Parking is a bit tricky at this former site of Taste of China. They have just eight regular parking spots, and we did observe people parking at other nearby businesses, and walking here when there were no spots available.
We arrived here at just before 6pm on a recent Sunday and were met with a pretty full restaurant. There are three tables inside, and the majority of the seating options are located outside, maybe another ten or so tables. Ordering is done at the counter, and then the food is brought out to you. Their menu includes plenty in the way of tacos, burritos, breakfast, nachos, a quesadilla, and loaded fries. As far as prices, only one item breaks the ten-dollar threshold, and that's the surf and turf burrito, which goes for $10.25, just an extra quarter.
I thought we were living right when we snagged the last parking spot in the small lot and found an empty table out in front of the restaurant. That luck ended when we were informed that they were out of both guacamole and carnitas on this early Sunday evening. We were cool about it, but we did hear other customers grumble rather loudly about it. Enough about what we couldn't have, let's see what we did consume after our walk at the beach trail.
Katie started off with two tacos this evening. The Yardbird ($2.99) is the one in the middle picture, while the Flounder Pounder ($3.25) is the one right above. The chicken taco came with cubed grilled chicken, onions, cilantro, sour cream, and something called chubby sauce. The fish taco came with grilled fish, cilantro, cabbage, crema, chubby sauce, and salsa verde. Both tacos came on sturdy corn tortillas. Katie felt these were great representations of tacos you'd want to eat near the beach. The fish taco was her slight favorite, as the fish was moist and the condiments complemented it nicely. The chicken had a good flavor to it and they put so much in it that she had enough chicken for a second taco. Okay, maybe a street sized taco, but a taco nonetheless.
Part one of my meal, since my preferred carnitas were not an option on this evening, was the first taco listed on their menu, the OG ($3.20). They use tri-tip here and dress the taco simply with cilantro, sour cream, chubby sauce, and onions. I liked the flavor and tenderness of the tri-tip in this. They were not shy about using a good amount of meat in this either. The simple condiment selection really let the tri-tip be the star here. Even though I was bummed there was no carnitas available, this was a great alternative.
For the second part of my meal, I went the burrito route with this Surf and Turf Burrito ($10.25). This had both shrimp and tri-tip, along with rice, beans, cheddar and jack cheeses, sour cream, cabbage, and pico de gallo. I liked this burrito but it did have a few issues. The tri-tip in this seemed like it was different than the taco I had. The beef was in bigger hunks and not marinated in the same stuff as what was in my taco. The result was a blander burrito. The shrimp was fine, but this needed that spark from the tri-tip. This also came out rather lukewarm, and in the early evening shade, it cooled very quickly. Very girthy, this did end up filling me up.
Katie was still a little hungry after her two tacos, so we decided to split their Pounders Carnal Fish Taco ($4.25). Glad we did. This was probably the best of the bunch, just edging out the tri-tip taco I had. This flour tortilla came out loaded up with pieces of fried fish, red and green cabbage, crema, pico de gallo, and some of their chubby sauce. The fish on this was fried nicely, with a crispy outer crunch and flaky and tender white fish underneath. The crunch of the cabbage and the combination of the chipotle and sour cream rounded this out rather nicely. A very well done fish taco, one of the better ones we've had recently.
This initial visit to Sancho's has really piqued my interest to return here very soon. I've heard good things about their breakfast burrito, and of course, I need to try their carnitas as well. I thought the prices were pretty good, considering the size of their tacos and burritos. I've also heard that they have a Taco Tuesday deal from 4 to 8, where some of their tacos are offered at $2 each. This might not be the most comfortable of restaurants to eat at, with most of the seating being outside and the rather small parking lot situation, but we will definitely be back very soon. Sancho's Tacos will not be overlooked by us anymore.
Out of five horses, (because one of the most successful racehorses of the early 19th century was an English horse named Sancho, which won 8 of his 12 races), five being best to zero being worst, Sancho's Tacos gets 3 horses.
For more information about Sancho's Tacos, head to their website here: http://www.sanchostacos.com/