The Escondite is this little bar right in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row with nothing more than an “Open” sign on their wooden door welcoming their guests. I happened to stumble in there after having a couple beers at Mumford, the brewery next door. The word Escondite means “hiding spot” in Spanish so my mind immediately starts thinking about its taco potential. Yes, just because it was in Spanish.
The bar itself gave off a hole-in-the-wall vibe emphasized by Marvin Gaye playing on the jukebox. There weren’t as many people as Mumford but only because there was no way to know there was a bar there unless you knew and that was kind of the point, right? The bartender came over right away and handed me a menu. Immediately my eyes went hunting for those beautifully constructed five letters and the reason you are still reading this.
There are certain tells that let you know if the tacos you are about to try are any good. I’ll get into this in further detail but a big red flag is seeing the words “steak” and “chicken”. My heart sank knowing I might be taking one for the team (the team being you guys) but I ordered anyway. In the never ending 10-15 minute wait for these tacos I decided I was going to fight my instincts and have an open mind. Besides, in the description they mentioned red sauce, ingredients that basically form Pico De Gallo and a slice of avocado. I thought the avocado was a strange touch albeit unique.
I glanced over at the kitchen and noticed my order was up. I couldn’t help but think about all the negatives these tacos already had going for them:
– You only get 2 for $7
– They were referred to as “Steak” and “Chicken”
– It doesn’t take over 10 minutes to get some tacos ready.
Nevertheless, I forced myself to give them a fair shot as the bartender placed them in front of me.
First thing to note was the size. They were bigger than your average street taco and they better have been if I was paying $3.50 a fucking taco. I was feeling the smallest hint of a buzz from the beers from earlier and that only fueled my hunger so these tacos looked like the most appetizing meal ever. That is, until I took my first bite.
Ok, lets get down to business. The Chicken was first up to bat. When I eat, I like to get rid of the food I like the least first and Chicken will forever be considered a diet food to me unless it’s fried or with buffalo sauce. In this case, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The first thing I noticed though was the tortilla. It was greasy but not in a disgusting way. The chicken was seasoned well enough to make a decent taco and the pico de gallo was nice and fresh. I was even surprised to discover the avocado was actually on point since it was just a thin slice and not half of the fucking thing like most places who throw avocado on food tend to do.
Before taking my second bite I poured on some of the red sauce it came with. Up until this point, I would say these tacos were not bad. After the sauce they fell from not bad to slightly below average.
Guys, sauce is SUPPOSED to be spicy. This shit was as if they threw a bunch of tomatoes in a blender and added a few garlic cloves then dumped it in the little plastic container. It was an insult to sauce everywhere. It did absolutely nothing to change the flavor of the taco, let alone enhance it. It was almost as disappointing as the Lakers’ Byron Scott era. Okay, so I might be exaggerating since the sauce didn’t taste bad but it just lacked uniqueness and GOOD flavor. Still, I am picky when it comes to sauce and I like my sauce spicy. Furthermore, this is my fucking blog so I’ll continue to exaggerate.
I collected myself and moved on to the steak taco. Now I hold Asada – as it should properly be referred to when in a taco- to a much higher standard. I already knew what to expect in terms of the toppings and the nightmare they called a sauce so I tried my best not to take those flaws into account. I have to say, the steak was pretty damn good. Not too greasy but just the right amount of fattiness. Not too overcooked and if there is one thing we Latinos like to do is overcook meat. I mean, it’s probably our biggest flaw to be quite honest. This Asada was good. Too bad it was wrapped in an overpriced average tasting taco with bird shit sauce on the side.
Meat Selection – 1/10
Escondido gets a slight pass only because the tacos are meant to be bar food so you only get two options. You shouldn’t be ordering $3.50 tacos even if you’re trashed.
Meat Taste – 6/10
I have to give them credit, the chicken was nice and juicy and the steak was at its prime for being called “steak”.
Topping Selection – 2/10
I didn’t get to choose but I didn’t expect to anyway. Avocado was a pleasant surprise.
Topping Taste – 0/10
That bullshit sauce. Sorry avocado, even you couldn’t save that atrocity.
Overall – 4/10
Honestly, if that sauce tasted halfway decent I would’ve given these a 5 making them neither good nor bad but because of that sinful sauce, they get docked a whole point putting them in the bad category. I wouldn’t say they are awful and I’m sure some people might even find them enjoyable but this is Los Angeles. We hold tacos to a much higher standard out here.
* level of inebriation at the time – 2/10
The Escondite: 410 Boyd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Little Tokyo, Downtown