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La Fachada: Dirt Cheap Barrio Tacos

Barrio Logan is way cool. The neighborhood is much quieter than its reputation (fairly earned in the past) implies, and there's no shortage of cool stuff to do; like checking out the murals at Chicano Park and maybe seeing some lowriders.

But one of the best reasons to go down to Barrio Logan is to stop in at La Fachada and do maximum damage to as many tacos as possible. The restaurant redid the patio space comparatively recently, though it's still pretty grungy, and is serving a "taco truck menu" outside.

Ninety-five percent of the food on the outdoor menu is under $5!

Image

La Fachada has a certain kind of charm. It's not really the charm of the quaint little mom and pop store that one might expect. It's a dirty, gritty, well-used kind of charm that only comes from the fumes of endless late-night tacos served up to customers of dubious distinction.

Really, it's not very charming at all. But it's definitely cool.

And the tacos are good, too.

Image

Only $1.80 each, all the best bits of offal have been braised and grilled into submission, piled onto corn tortillas, and topped simply with onions and cilantro. La Fachada had cabeza, tripa, and lengua (i.e. head, tripe, and tongue), so discerning fans of the delicious, and all to often rejected, organ meats are free to rejoice.

Everything was good, even if it all mostly tasted the same. The difference was primarily textural--tripe is much chewier than tongue, for example. And some plain old carnitas proved exceptional in that it was crispy and absolutely loaded onto the little taco.

If offal's too far out, the restaurant has plenty of normal cuts of meat as well.

Good luck to vegetarians, however.

La Fachada also does gorditas. Sometimes, these little pockets of masa dough can be manageable and small enough to eat more than one. In the barrio however, the gorditas were whopping monsters that had been deep fried and stuffed to overflowing with the same, delicious offal that goes into the tacos. Plus, they got lettuce, cheese, and sour cream on top. One is enough and it only costs $4.10.

Image

Sure, one could venture inside and dine on seafood and omelets to the heart's content. But the patio, where the complimentary beans and grilled onions simmer on the grill that also produces carne asada at irregular intervals, is where it's at on a nice day in the Barrio.

La Fachada
20 25th Street
619-236-8566
Open until 3 AM

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Barrio Logan is way cool. The neighborhood is much quieter than its reputation (fairly earned in the past) implies, and there's no shortage of cool stuff to do; like checking out the murals at Chicano Park and maybe seeing some lowriders.

But one of the best reasons to go down to Barrio Logan is to stop in at La Fachada and do maximum damage to as many tacos as possible. The restaurant redid the patio space comparatively recently, though it's still pretty grungy, and is serving a "taco truck menu" outside.

Ninety-five percent of the food on the outdoor menu is under $5!

Image

La Fachada has a certain kind of charm. It's not really the charm of the quaint little mom and pop store that one might expect. It's a dirty, gritty, well-used kind of charm that only comes from the fumes of endless late-night tacos served up to customers of dubious distinction.

Really, it's not very charming at all. But it's definitely cool.

And the tacos are good, too.

Image

Only $1.80 each, all the best bits of offal have been braised and grilled into submission, piled onto corn tortillas, and topped simply with onions and cilantro. La Fachada had cabeza, tripa, and lengua (i.e. head, tripe, and tongue), so discerning fans of the delicious, and all to often rejected, organ meats are free to rejoice.

Everything was good, even if it all mostly tasted the same. The difference was primarily textural--tripe is much chewier than tongue, for example. And some plain old carnitas proved exceptional in that it was crispy and absolutely loaded onto the little taco.

If offal's too far out, the restaurant has plenty of normal cuts of meat as well.

Good luck to vegetarians, however.

La Fachada also does gorditas. Sometimes, these little pockets of masa dough can be manageable and small enough to eat more than one. In the barrio however, the gorditas were whopping monsters that had been deep fried and stuffed to overflowing with the same, delicious offal that goes into the tacos. Plus, they got lettuce, cheese, and sour cream on top. One is enough and it only costs $4.10.

Image

Sure, one could venture inside and dine on seafood and omelets to the heart's content. But the patio, where the complimentary beans and grilled onions simmer on the grill that also produces carne asada at irregular intervals, is where it's at on a nice day in the Barrio.

La Fachada
20 25th Street
619-236-8566
Open until 3 AM

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Never eaten there, but I do know my tacos. Anyone who wants to try this place, know that tacos de cabeza is actually meat from the head of the cow OUTSIDE of the skull, not inside (believe it or not, there is plenty of good meat off of the skull). Tacos de lengua are indeed tongue, but the tongue is skinned, then slow-boiled and diced. Both meats are then steamed and retain moisture and are very tender. Cabeza tastes like a delicate beef, and tongue also tastes like a delicate beef with a distinct flavor, slightly darker. Both of these taco types go fantastic with a hot green salsa and diced onions and cilantro.

Speaking of the head of the cow, there are two types of tacos available from meat from inside of the head for anyone adventurous to try them, if you can find them over there in the U.S. (they can be found in Baja but you have to look for them). One is tacos "de cesos", which is brain, and the other is tacos "de ojo", which is eye. Cesos is prepared similar to that of lengua, the flavor is delicate and light (as opposed to slightly dark), but the texture is going to be different for most, the meat is almost chalky (the texture reminds me of prepared chicken liver). Ojo is not the actual eyeball, it's the meat in the socket. The flavor is somewhat like cabeza, except the texture is less delicate.

March 12, 2012

Gringo, thanks for bringing brain tacos into the discussion! They don't have any at La Fachada, unfortunately. Probably good to point out that the meat for the cabeza tacos is the meat from the outside of the skull, not brains or anything. It's true that cabeza meat might not technically be offal by some of the strictest definitions, but I think it's fair to say that when people talk about any "variety meats" in a casual sense things like cabeza and tete de veau are in the mix for certain!

Another, unrelated way to prepare tongue that's very popular in kosher delis is to cure it like corned beef and then slice it paper thin for sandwiches. Unlike tacos de lengua in almost every way, but phenomenal nonetheless.

I mention some other good tacos de cabeza here:

March 12, 2012

I missed that entry somehow, that photo looks like the sobre ruedas' that we have here in Baja. Except that at most sobre ruedas you can't find those types of tacos, they generally have one booth with fish tacos and another with tacos de birria. Looks great. I have yet to fully explore a lot of areas up there, including Hillcrest (yes, embarrassing to admit having been born in San Diego), next time it's convenient I'm going to that street market there.

I'm so used to the way they do things in Baja - it's inconceivable to find certain types of tacos here before the lunch hour, generally one in the afternoon. Before then, you won't likely find the following types of tacos here (except close to the border, where they count on tourism): Carne Asada, lengua, tripas, cabeza, adobada, and so on. What they usually have in the morning in the streets are tacos de pescado (fish tacos), tacos de birria (mostly beef these days, traditionally goat, slow-boiled in a broth with the essential ingredient being chilies guajillos), and tacos varios (a meal inside a taco; creamy refried beans, rice, and your choice of what they offer - this sometimes includes a prepared lengua in green or red sauce, but other choices always include chile relleno or milanesa or a beef & potato stew). Tacos Varios are also available in the evening, but usually birria and fish tacos are not.

These are unwritten rules, I imagine they are based on preferences by the locals here. San Diego seems to do things a bit differently, which is an interesting change from here.

March 12, 2012
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