Taco Tuesday: Sergio’s Tacos

I love tacos. It’s one of the best things you can eat in Los Angeles. The best tacos are simple – a quality tortilla, meat, and cilantro/onions with some hot sauce. My friends know I’m always on the look out for a good taco and recently my friend Ruth gave me an awesome recommendation. She said it was a little taco stand outside of LA in the city of Commerce called Sergio’s Tacos.

It’s close to the Citadel Outlets but you take a turn on Atlantic Blvd. and you see the small stand on a corner. The parking lot only fits a handful of cars and when you walk in there are just a few tables. But let me tell you, this place is definitely on my list for best tacos! Check out my order for a carne asada and a carnitas taco.

The tacos are made to order. The tortillas are perfect. Really. At first bite, it’s warm with a slight toasty edge then the savory marinated carne asada meat and carntitas were tender – not chewy and dry which can happen at some taco stands that reheat the meat. What tops it off is the hot sauce. I prefer the green (tomatillo) sauce but if you like hot, ask for the red sauce which is their house sauce. Here’s a closer look at my carne asada taco in the foreground and my carnitas taco in the background.

So if you’re headed to the outlets or traveling down the 5 freeway, take a detour off Atlantic Blvd. to Sergio’s and let me know what you think of their tacos. Also, I’m always open to your taco recommendations!

Sergio’s Tacos
2216 S Atlantic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90040

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Slow cooked shredded beef tacos [RECIPE]

I had a gathering at my place not too long ago. I wanted to make some food – something easy for a large group. I remembered shredded beef tacos my friend Marc made years ago in a slow cooker. I emailed him and he gave me the recipe. It was SO simple I had to read it over again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Best part about a slow cooker is that you throw all the ingredients in and wait about 6 to 8 hours, and your dish is ready. Take a look at my tacos:

I bought the tortillas from Huicho’s Bakery, a local bakery and tortilleria in Los Angeles. I got there right when the fresh corn tortillas had just been packed. When the cashier handed me two bags, they were both warm and I put my nose to the bag and the smell of maize seeped out – I inhaled. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you stop by  your local tortilleria and pick up a bag of fresh tortillas – it’s not expensive and the taste is 10 times better than the prepackaged stuff you buy at the grocery store that’s been shipped from miles away. Plus, you can support your local business!

Here’s the checklist of things you need for shredded beef tacos.

  1. Tortillas
  2. Cilantro and onions – I bought some cilantro and onions from the farmers market and chipped them up and put it in a bowl as a side for the tacos.
  3. Limes – I cut up lime wedges for folks to squeeze on their tacos.
  4. Mexican cheese – I bought queso fresco and crumbled them up so people could top off their tacos.
  5. Hot sauce – Tapatio is my hot sauce of choice.
  6. Shredded beef (see below for recipe)

The shredded beef is a simple recipe. I didn’t really use measuring spoons – just seasoned to the eye and didn’t over do it. But hopefully you’ll be able to find the right combination for yourself and experiment.

  1. Meat – Buy a large chuck roast and trim the fat. Then cut the meet into 4 pieces and put into the slow cooker.
  2. Garlic – Add 5-6 cloves of garlic (I put in 8 because I’m a big fan of garlic).
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Beef bouillon – dissolve it in 1/2 cup of water and drizzle it over the meat.
  5. (optional) My friend Marc also recommends serrano peppers too if you like it spicy. I didn’t add the peppers for my taco.

Set the slow cooker to LOW and leave it in for about 6 -8 hours. Mine were done a little after 6 hours. You know it’s ready when the meat is tender and falls off each other. Do not set it to high or leave it in too long because the mean will get tough and rubbery.

If you want a shredded beef taco recipe with more direction and recipe I found this one, this one, and this one.

This was a simple recipe that everyone enjoyed and it was easy to prepare. Looking forward for my next taco night!

Casablanca, Venice Beach

When my friend said we were having her birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Casablanca, I thought she meant “Casa Blanca.” I was wrong. The Venice Beach restaurant we went to was actually named after the movie and Moroccan city.

When you walk in, there’s Casablanca tchotchke everywhere – the walls, the shelves… even a life-size mannequin of Humphrey Bogart wearing his trademark trench coat encased in glass. The restaurant has been open for over 30 years and apparently, they have one of the largest Casablanca film memorabilia collections in the country.

Besides the decor, the restaurant is also known for their homemade flour tortillas. I could have eaten these all night. They were piping hot and each one had a slightly different shape – definitely a sign that it was handmade. You can see the tortilla in the background and the “muy, muy, grande margarita” in the foreground.

In terms of food, they have your typical Mexican restaurant fare of enchiladas, burritos, and tacos but the waiter told me that they are known for their calamari dishes. He suggested I get the Calamari Acapulco which is basically shrimp and crab sauteed in a whole lot of garlic and butter served with rice and vegetables.

It was a little too buttery for me so I ended up taking my leftovers home. The shrimp and calamari were prepared just right – not overcooked and rubbery – but I do wish there was a little more acid to cut down on the butter.

This is a great place for a birthday and it’s definitely family-friendly. The atmosphere is really fun and kitschy – but what else did you expect from a Mexican restaurant named after a Moroccan city?