Veggie Smalls gets a sterling rating right off the bat based on their name alone, but the instinctive kudos is backed up in full by their menu of veg-friendly burgers, dogs, and tacos.
For the sake of highlighting their more inventive offerings, I dug into the tacoreano (a portmanteau of “taco Coreano,” or Korean taco) and the taco de coliflor (cauliflower taco). The tacos go for 25 pesos each (about 2 bucks) or 60 pesos for an order of three.
An innovation of Los Angeles food trucks, the Korean taco (fun fact: South Koreans represent the third largest foreign population in Tijuana, following Chinese and U.S. nationals) lends itself well to a veggie conversion, in which a chunk of battered Portobello takes the place of fish or bulgogi and is then topped with mixed veggies, fried noodles, vinaigrette, tangy chile pasilla paste, and cheese. The generously breaded mushroom is a dead ringer for Ensenada-style fish tacos, texturally and, to a lesser degree, in flavor. Add a splash of house peanut sauce to round out the chile paste.
More distinctly local, the taco de coliflor finds lightly steamed and battered cauliflower topped with a Baja slaw of red and white cabbage, shredded carrots, and avocado cilantro sauce. The cauliflower carries a very mild smoky spice which beckons for a dash of pasilla paste to heat things up. Add a generous squirt of lime for a citric kick that hints at ceviche.
Veggie Smalls has held a location at the family-friendly, outdoor gastro-court Food Garden since last November. We’ll be coming back to the rotating, six-stall outpost in future dispatches of Veggiejuana, but for now, be sure to try their house aguas frescas or, better yet, their ongoing two-for-one domestic beer deal.