Walter Mencken 5:01 p.m., Nov. 25
Baked Potato – TJ-style
Alex and I are sitting up to the counter watching Francisco and Victor working that hot plate. Four hands flailing, spatulas scooping, tortillas flapping, salsas pouring, lids clanging, steam soaring, plates flying…these guys! It’s like watching a tennis match.
This was about 10:00 last night. Tijuana. La Ermita. I’d clambered into a crowded red public taxi downtown on 4th Street near Constitución and headed up Agua Caliente, past the old bullring, past the towers of the Grand Hotel Tijuana, and the huge market with all the clothes bargains. I’d gotten off at La Ermita Norte, a dark little street that bounced down into the well-settled suburbs of old Tijuana, and walked towards the one lit-up building that’s like a shrine to taco-lovers worldwide.
Talking about Tacos Salceados...
... aka Tacos La Ermita, 30-A, Avenida Ermita<#208>Norte, near Calle Baburias del Mar, off Agua Caliente Boulevard. Home of the now-famous quesataco (where cheese is welded to the outside of the taco before your very eyes, as they start filling the inside) and the taco dulce (stuffed with, like, carne asada, pineapple, raspberry sauce, walnuts).
It’s a pretty big room you can see has been expanded a couple of times. I sit up to the counter next to Alex, who’s also down from ’Diego for quesatacos and a taco dulce.
My mission tonight though: Baked potato. Can Javier Campos Guttierez, the guy who invented all these rad taco ideas, make a great baked potato?
Choice is on the board: Papa with carne asada, pork or chicken; with New York steak, flank steak (“arrachera”), or shrimp.
I go for the shrimp. Francisco puts the already-baked potato on the hot plate, fills it with cheese and camarones and I don’t know what-all else, then covers it with a hooped pan lid to steam in there a couple of minutes...
...then hauls it out and pours a pinkish cream sauce over the top.
Victor hands it to me, steaming.
It is totally lush, of course. Specially when I lay on some brown habanero seco salsa to put some kick in.
And it’s plenty.
But, natch, I can’t keep away from the famous tacos...
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