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Lamb on the cheap

Slow-cooked barbacoa at Aquí es Texcoco

A simple meal of lamb, done two ways
A simple meal of lamb, done two ways
Place

Aquí es Texcoco

520 Broadway number 5 and 6, Chula Vista

Bracero Cocina debuted as one of the hottest restaurant tickets in town this year, thanks to a healthy amount of buzz in culinary circles surrounding chef Javier Plascencia’s Baja Med cuisine. Infusing Mexican dishes with Mediterranean and other global influences, the restaurant’s menu is exciting and delicious, though not cheap.

Aquí es Texcoco, on the other hand, is not so expensive. The casual Chula Vista spot originated in Tijuana, and its version of Baja Med centers around slow-cooked barbacoa lamb. A taco goes for $2.50 vs. $5 for the barbacoa lamb taco at Bracero. While a Bracero taco is easily worth five bucks, at twice the price it’s relatively extravagant.

Aquí es Texcoco

So I went to Texcoco with lamb on my mind. I ordered a lamb-rib soft taco and a grilled version with cabeza, aka lamb head, aka mostly cheek. There’s not much to these tacos, just meat and tortilla plus ramekins of diced onions and cilantro available alongside bottled salsa as part of table service.

While the cabeza was more tender, contrasting nicely with the grilled tortilla’s texture, I found the ribs more to my liking. They were also tender but a touch less salty and had a more distinct barbacoa smokiness. For a combined five bucks, these tacos were almost enough to make a satisfying lunch.

But bigger appetites want more, and I wanted a better taste of the Med side of this equation. For that I nabbed a lamb pita sandwich topped by lettuce, tomato, and dill tzatziki served with a pleasant cup of lamb broth with chickpeas and rice.

It cost $7.50 and was a little bigger than the tacos, but it wasn’t as good a bang for your buck. Though not as special as the rib meat, the lamb filling the pita was savory and delicious. After the tortillas, the pita felt a little thick, and I could have done without so much dill. But there was that bottle of salsa, which served the sandwich well.

The marriage of Mex and Med may not be so pronounced here as at Bracero, and the beverage selection is less interesting (outside of pulque). But as a person who is enthusiastic about both grilled lamb and tacos, I get downright excited pulling into Texcoco’s strip mall parking lot and can leave happy for 15 bucks.

And so far as the beverages go, on my waiter’s recommendation I tried the house-made tamarind water. The salty sweet drink was slightly tart and very refreshing. Gatorade is out. Next time I’m hung over, I’m driving to Chula Vista and drinking this to recover. And eating some lamb.

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A simple meal of lamb, done two ways
A simple meal of lamb, done two ways
Place

Aquí es Texcoco

520 Broadway number 5 and 6, Chula Vista

Bracero Cocina debuted as one of the hottest restaurant tickets in town this year, thanks to a healthy amount of buzz in culinary circles surrounding chef Javier Plascencia’s Baja Med cuisine. Infusing Mexican dishes with Mediterranean and other global influences, the restaurant’s menu is exciting and delicious, though not cheap.

Aquí es Texcoco, on the other hand, is not so expensive. The casual Chula Vista spot originated in Tijuana, and its version of Baja Med centers around slow-cooked barbacoa lamb. A taco goes for $2.50 vs. $5 for the barbacoa lamb taco at Bracero. While a Bracero taco is easily worth five bucks, at twice the price it’s relatively extravagant.

Aquí es Texcoco

So I went to Texcoco with lamb on my mind. I ordered a lamb-rib soft taco and a grilled version with cabeza, aka lamb head, aka mostly cheek. There’s not much to these tacos, just meat and tortilla plus ramekins of diced onions and cilantro available alongside bottled salsa as part of table service.

While the cabeza was more tender, contrasting nicely with the grilled tortilla’s texture, I found the ribs more to my liking. They were also tender but a touch less salty and had a more distinct barbacoa smokiness. For a combined five bucks, these tacos were almost enough to make a satisfying lunch.

But bigger appetites want more, and I wanted a better taste of the Med side of this equation. For that I nabbed a lamb pita sandwich topped by lettuce, tomato, and dill tzatziki served with a pleasant cup of lamb broth with chickpeas and rice.

It cost $7.50 and was a little bigger than the tacos, but it wasn’t as good a bang for your buck. Though not as special as the rib meat, the lamb filling the pita was savory and delicious. After the tortillas, the pita felt a little thick, and I could have done without so much dill. But there was that bottle of salsa, which served the sandwich well.

The marriage of Mex and Med may not be so pronounced here as at Bracero, and the beverage selection is less interesting (outside of pulque). But as a person who is enthusiastic about both grilled lamb and tacos, I get downright excited pulling into Texcoco’s strip mall parking lot and can leave happy for 15 bucks.

And so far as the beverages go, on my waiter’s recommendation I tried the house-made tamarind water. The salty sweet drink was slightly tart and very refreshing. Gatorade is out. Next time I’m hung over, I’m driving to Chula Vista and drinking this to recover. And eating some lamb.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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