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Honestly, it was the cow’s hoof.

That’s the only reason I hopped off the Orange Line trolley at Encanto and headed for the rack of stores beneath the clay cliff that runs up the valley here.

I remembered Caribbean Taste (Caribbean Taste Jamaican Restaurant, 6171 Imperial Avenue, 619-795-1772) does a kind of cow’s hoof stew. And yeah, once you get used to the idea, they have a squelchy but kinda nice savory taste to them. And any Jamaican will tell you, they beat Viagra 10-1, heh heh.

But disaster strikes again. “We’re out! You have to come early,” says the lady. "Friday."

Dang. This must be the third time I’ve missed the boat.

So I wander up to see what other place is open.

Ah. Salaam Fish House (6201 Imperial Avenue, 619-527-7137). Has fish tacos for $1.59. Deal. And the lights are on…except the door’s locked. Ding. Strike two. “They should be back soon,” says this guy outside. “Just went for a break.”

So I wander a little further up. Aha.

Gualbertos. Abierto! It’s Gualberto’s #3 (6215 Imperial Avenue, South Encanto, 619-264-4056). Nice small store with, inside, big mural of Lake Chapala, I’m betting. Couple of kids are eating bean burritos right in front.

Figure I’ll get a quick filler to keep me going while I wait for the Salaam guys to open back up. “How about a fish taco?” says Cindy, the gal at the counter. “They’re $2.50.”

Martin the chef says he uses tilapia.

In a minute it’s up and I’m eating it hot and steamy.

And man, what a huge piece of fish! Beautifully crispy and surrounded by lettuce, tomato chunks and plenty of mayo-type sauce, plus a nice peppy hot sauce.

Gotta say, this crispy almost-but-not-quite burned fish is totally delish...

...Nothing flabby or drowned about it, like a lot of fish tacos you get.

Plus I like tilapia for its flavor.

This single $2.50 (okay, $2.96 after tax) meal is a real delish, scrunchy belly-filler.

I’m still going to go to Salaam.

And still have to get me those cow’s hooves.

But meantime this was da bomb.

Stay tuned.

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