Tacos: one of the few things LA and Orange County have in common. More specifically, tacos are one of the many cultural manifestations EastLos and SanTana have in common–(immigrant populations, histories of violence, and rising gentrification are other aspects these two cities share in common, but to what degree and in what way shall be reserved for later).
An orgiastic array of choices awaits the taco hungry in SanTana. Everybody’s got’em, and what they’ve got I want. But whose? Will it be the place with the mountain of meat on the back burner waiting for the need-to-sober-crowd? Perhaps it will be from the hidden restaurant-in-a-house-off Cypress, Senora Juana’s? Or tacos from “Guadalajara” over on West First, where ye-olde-she-and-he-hipster ought not wander? Or will I maunder towards a Roach Coach–ahh the roach coaches: dotting the city the way that bad history dots my credit, incongruently and with too great a frequency–that’s semi-permanently stationed outside Gonzalez, just off fourth?
I am not looking for the best taco in the world–I snootily scoff at those who extol the latest find as the greatest taco EVER. Give me a break. We here in god’s country are lucky to get decent meat wrapped in a lukewarm tortilla. I’m not looking for a taco that will beat those found in Ocotlan, Mexico (for example) where the cows are happy, the kill is fresh, the meat cooked on cast iron griddles over a hearth, and chopped in gutted tree stumps–wrapped in tortillas made by (gasp) hand–human hands.
Today I am looking for an honest taco. A taco whose flavor, texture, and quality I can count on; one that is made by real people. I’m looking for a working man’s taco; a taco with some history; a taco that promotes community; a local taco; a taco that I can continue to go back to, whether for a quick lunch or to nurse a hangover.
Hopefully you’re world, dear reader, extends beyond the four square blocks known as “Downtown Santa Ana.” If it does then you should walk the four whole blocks down Main Street heading south from First to Tacos Colima. (And if you’re world entirely consists of those four square blocks, then you deserve the selection to which you limit yourself.) Tacos Colima is run by Señor and Señora Colima themselves. Not actually their real name, this couple hails from Colima, Mexico and they make one damn honest taco.
I consistently go there for three items:
1) The Taco Suadero, con todo: (pictured above) the suadero tacos at Tacos Colima are pretty fantastic. “Suadero” is a cut of beef from the brisket (the breast of the cow) and, at Colima, is skillet grilled. The texture is smooth and chewy; the taste fantastic.
2) Carne Asada Taco, con todo: the asada from Colima consistently hits the mark. I pretty much rely on Colima for my fortnight asada fix.
3) Pozole (only on weekends): Colima dishes out white pozole on weekends. For about 6 bucks you get a hearty serving of it. Able to remedy the most harrowing of hangovers, Colima’s white pozole is cheaper than Memphis’ Sunday brunch and comes without the temptation of pairing brunch with the requisite brunch Mimosa (which is bottomless at Memphis).
They serve other items: taquitos, quesadillas (any cheese lovers wet dream), ceviche (very very good; I opt for the ceviche on days where I want something lighter) and (brilliant) tortas.
519 South Main Street
Santa Ana, CA