Mexicali Taco & Co. (San Gabriel): A Pictorial Essay

Restauranteur/Chef Esdras Ochoa may best be known in L.A. by his involvement at Salazar in Frogtown. He’s opened up an interesting new taqueria in the SGV which warrants a visit.

Mexicali Taco & Co. inhabits the A-frame vacated by Wienerschnitzel on San Gabriel Boulevard, just up the street from acclaimed Babita Mexicuisine (currently shuttered due to the pandemic). The vibe and cuisine here projects a harmonious merge of the 626 and Mexican comfort food. Several outdoor tables allow customers the immediate gratification of enjoying the take-out on premises #ERTAT. There was quite the queue when I visited, on a Tuesday afternoon #TacoTuesdays.

What sets this taqueria apart? Why it’s the char siu al pastor, of course!

This was my first time eating this hybrid invention, and the experience is at once familiar, yet new. As I marveled at how damn tasty my taco char siu al pastor and my char siu Mexicali burrito were, I was also earnestly wishing I had been the first guy who thought up this combo. Yes, though Mexicali Tacos & Co. has a sister location in Downtown L.A. (on Figueroa), the SGV location is the only place where the char siu al pastor is in full effect. Seriously good sandia agua fresca to wash it all down as well…

Add runny huevo supplement to already delicious burrito… #DidNotHaveToBringMyOwnFriedEggThisTime

RECOMMENDED.

Mexicali Tacos & Co.
1811 S. San Gabriel Bl.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
626.545.2554
mexicalitaco.com

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He’s come a long way since 1st and beaudry but is as nice as ever. This place is going to kill it in the sgv.

Diep Tran formerly of good girl dinette had a thit nuong al pastor on the trompo last year. Asian and Mexican flavors go so well together it’s a natural.

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Nice review @J_L ! Normally I stray away from burritos because they are fill with mostly rice but this version appears to have nice meat to rice ratio. Never had a charsiu al pastor combo, very intriguing.

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Is Sergio back from HK?

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yup, he’s also been cooking since opening. He should be there for a couple more weeks.

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guerrilla tacos had (has?) a delicious char siu taco @TheCookie

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Yep, loved that taco @PorkyBelly! :taco: :two_hearts: Coinkydink, I was just seconds ago reading about this spot on the gram.

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I miss the 1st and beaudry days! Those vampiros were the best.

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yeah in some ways, it might have been peak mexicali with the mesquite backyard grill and them driving back tortillas from mexicali weekly. they didn’t go w/ the mesquite at first the brick and mortar. not sure about this newest location.

His original partner at 1st and Beaudry , Javier, however did open a taco joint appropriately named Mesquite Tacos in OC and does use mesquite.

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Yup I remember them mentioning that they couldn’t when mexacali first opened due to the build out/city restrictions. Those tortillas were glorious!

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Yo tambien.

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Wow thanks for this tidbit I had no idea. I will have to bookmark and visit when I’m down in OC.

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It’s down the street from Cream Pan and Tanakaya. It’s in the same plaza as THH sandwiches.

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Sounds like a bang bang bang bang

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@hppzz @Hungrydrunk how are the tacos at Mesquite? Always on the search for good OC taco spots

I like it, i don’t think it’s as good as Mexicali tho. They have a good burrito which has chopped up Chile Relleno and a choice of meat. It also depends on when you go. I’ve mostly gone around 1 pm on a weekday and they don’t have a lot of people eating there so it doesn’t seem like the A team is cooking so ymmv. But I do go and support

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Nothing compares to live coals. Tacos 1986 suffers the same issue. And it’s one of the things that makes Tijuana food so special.

Is it still a permitting issue?

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Not sure haven’t been to Mexicali the restaurant in years. But I’m definitely excited to try mesquite and maybe this new iteration.

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tried a couple of tacos and the dorados today.

the cha-siu influenced al pastor was tender & juicy. the al pastor approach doesn’t give up much caramelization nor maillard reaction so all you had was the cha-siu flavor.

secret menu item: “mustard-fried” cha-siu al pastor. (taco on the left)

i was hoping that the mustard would crisp up and produce a textural contrast, but all i tasted was… mustard.

the sauce/salsa (see top of dorados pic) has serious punch to it. i prefer the tacos without it. i might try making a grilled cheese sandwich with it.

the al pastor might be better suited in a burrito where it can play more of a leading man role vs. competing against guacamole & onions & salsa.

the dorados (deep fried) come in an order of two topped with shredded lettuce and grated cheese with a spicy tomato sauce on the side. filling choices are the chicken pibil & potato. i requested one of each.

i found the chicken pibil underwhelming & a bit dry (might be better in a regular taco with guac to lubricate it a bit going down). the mashed potato provided a much more interesting texture contrast and reminded me of the mariscos jaliscos deep fried shrimp taco. i took the rest of the sauce home and stirred in a bit of leftover rice and polished it off. the spiciness of the sauce was more obvious (no milk protein in the cheese to counteract it).

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My man Andy, breaking down this SGV stand in the Robb Report

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