Between Calle F and G on Segunda, Zona Centro, Baja
Having finally come to terms with the jeering orange pile of disillusionment that is being marketed as the original taco al pastor in Mexico City, I returned to an old Tijuana favorite to reaffirm the trueness of its merits.
Though the shop dates back to 1982 — a good 16 years after Mexico City’s El Tizoncito first piled marinated pork shoulder on a shawarma-style spit — Taqueria Los Albañiles (between Calle F and G on Segunda, Zona Centro) appears to have maintained a solid grasp on adobada’s higher potential for the past couple of decades.
The sit-down family restaurant offers a spacious dining room in the back, but the real action happens at the open-air barstools surrounding the taquero.
Fresh-smashed masa tortillas puff up like party balloons on the plancha as the taquero flips carne asada and tripa on the grill, pounds chorizo into greasy chunks on a wooden stump, and shaves crispy cuts of deep red adobada from the trompo with a lengthy blade.
Everything about their adobada taco is right. The flame-charred hunks of meat, the almost-delicate tortilla, the generous splash of guacamole on top — it all speaks to the subtler sensibilities of taco craft. Only the tang of toasty pineapple could better its greatness, not to mention the requisite squeeze of lime.
Unfortunately, due to a major, yet lackadaisical, overhaul of Segunda (a prime thoroughfare connecting Playas to Centro and on to San Diego), the shop no longer has the traffic to consume a weekly trompo. Some neighborhood business owners suspect that the road won’t be reopened for a year — a crippling prospect at best.
Now cooked to order on the plancha, the adobada’s glistening marbles of fat still carry Yuletidely notes of cinnamon and the far-away earthiness of achiote.
A selection of aguas frescas (guayaba and guanabana, when they have it, are highlights) go nicely with the old timey scenery and handmade tacos, which approach burrito status when ordered as a quesadilla de harina con adobada.
The bonus: Los Albañiles’ jukebox — although partial to norteño jams - has been known to drop a well-placed Doors tune or even the inexplicable, party-starting Rapture track when the mood is right.
Grab a beer, ride the onda.