Photos: New Downtown Taqueria Has Bologna Tacos And Orange Bang Cocktails
Downtown L.A. has a new taqueria that serves traditional Mexican food with a twist, like bologna tacos and an Orange Bang-inspired cocktail.
B.S. Taqueria (short for Broken Spanish, not the bad word), is located on 7th Street where Mo-Chica used to be. The eatery is helmed by Ray Garcia, the former executive chef at the Fairmont Miramar hotel's FIG in Santa Monica. In late spring he is also opening a hotly-anticipated spot called Broken Spanish in the downtown L.A. space that Rivera recently vacated. It'll be just a few blocks away from B.S. Taqueria.
The colorful and casual restaurant is brightly clad with the pinks, yellows and oranges. Look up, and you'll see molinillos, a.k.a. Mexican hot chocolate whisks, hanging from the ceiling. To the left, there's an open kitchen framed by shelves of pottery and those big, kitschy piggy banks sold on the Mexican side of the border crossing. The bar, striped and stocked with bottles of tequila and mezcal, is at the back of the room. Down the hall, there's another seating area, "lush" with fake foliage and a wild floral mural.
The menu, which has strong Chicano leanings—what they're officially calling "authentically inauthentic"—is as playful as the decor. Snacks include puffed wheat crackers called "Duritos," which look a lot like Doritos, but there's no fake cheese involved, just a seasoning of spicy chile-lime. Garcia also does his own take on rice and beans, swapping out the usual pintos and orange rice for pan-puffed wild rice mixed with deep-fried garbanzo and butter beans, a little bit cojita, and fresno chiles.
The dish that's causing a big buzz, at least so far, is the Bologna Taco, which Garcia, an L.A. native, grew up eating. However, the bologna here is a lot fancier and more flavorful than what you find in a deli case—it's made in house, and lightly charred, chopped and shaved pieces are piled on heirloom corn tortillas (also house-made) and dressed with Kewpie mayonnaise and escabeche, a pickled relish of carrots, jalapeños, and onions. I don't like bologna, but I did grow up eating hotdogs in tortillas, and I actually enjoyed these though I'm not sure I'd order them again.
Instead, I'd opt for the manila clam and lardo taco, an unexpected, mouth-watering combination accented by thinly sliced, crunchy garlic chips. Seafood enthusiasts shouldn't miss it, and it's even worth a consideration from the seafood wary. But, rest assured, there are plenty of more traditional meats, too, from carnitas to lengua. All tacos come two to an order and run $8-$10.
Vegetarians also have options at B.S. Taqueria. Made on a soft tolero roll, the Beet Torta is stacked with two milanesa-style slabs of beet that are breaded and topped with pickled shredded beets and dressed similarly to the Bologna Tacos. There's also Cauliflower al Pastor served with the chunks of pineapple and tortillas. Calabacitas tacos and meatless side salads are also on the menu.
For dessert, light, fluffy churros are served with a chile de arbol-chocolate (it has a little kick) and the rich tres leches cake comes swimming in milk and topped with macadamia nuts. A paleta is offered daily, and the flavors will change with the seasons—it was strawberry on my visit.
Drinks ($11-13) are by Julian Cox, and they also go the playful route. The Orange Bang, made with mezcal, tangerine, pineapple, and coconut cream will probably be the biggest crowd pleaser, but the Tamarindo intrigues with numerous tamarind elements, including tamarind vodka, tamarind shrub, tamarind soda, and a Tamanzela candy acting as the straw. If you prefer to keep it simple, you can get Indio beer by the bottle, and Tecate is served with sides of salt, lime and Salsa Huichol. Both are $5.
B.S. Taqueria is located at 514 W. 7th St., downtown L.A., (213) 622-3744. Hours are currently Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (lunch); dinner service starts April 20 and will be from 5:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m. They plan to do brunch soon.