It’s rare for food to taste like it came straight from the place it originated, but when the decor of the restaurant brings you into the country it came from as well, it offers a new feeling of immersion. Taco Beach on Bellflower Boulevard and East Abbeyfield Street manages to do just this.
Only three blocks north of campus, Taco Beach offers a satisfying and affordable meal complimented by creative and tasty beverage, all at an affordable price courtesy of their happy hour menu.
Happy hour lasts from 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and offers a menu with several types of tacos, carne asada fries, taquitos and nachos to pair with a variety of canned beers and margaritas. The menu offers great deals where you can purchase a large drink for the price of a small one.
I spoke to Gloria Castro, a confident, extroverted bartender at the restaurant who has worked there for four out of the five years of the restaurant’s existence. Castro and the other waiters all enjoy talking to the guests about the food or whatever small talk came up, making for a more enjoyable experience while sitting at the bar.
When I asked for recommendations, Castro offered the grilled shrimp and dorado potato tacos as the most popular items on the menu.
I followed Castro’s advice and ordered the packed tacos — they certainly lived up to the hype.
The grilled shrimp tacos, topped with cilantro and cabbage, were served with a generous amount of meat in a soft, warm corn tortilla. The tacos were also made with the restaurant’s own Baja sauce which was a healthy mix of sour cream, mayonnaise, chopped cilantro, seafood seasoning, chile pepper and lime juice. It was a satisfying convergence of flavor as all the ingredients complimented each other nicely, not a single one overpowering the rest.
The dorado potato tacos were a treat in their own right too, prepared with layers of guacamole, mayonnaise and queso fresco. The perfectly seasoned potato brought each condiment together for a mouth-watering mix of food.
The Jalapeño Cucumber margarita I chose to pair with the tacos was refreshing but strong. It was a mix of tequila, lime juice and the margarita mixing liquor known as Triple sec with a lining of Tajín chile along the rim of the cup. What set this drink apart were the jalapeños and cucumbers which added an extra kick to the margarita, creating a sizzling soirée with both jalapeños and Tajín in every sip.
The first few sips consisted purely of a strong cucumber taste, but it wasn’t long until the tequila quickly followed. When I was halfway through my drink, I scooped out a jalapeño and ate it, noticing it carried not only its own spice but the full flavor of the drink.
If the food and drinks aren’t enough to draw you to the restaurant, Taco Beach’s cantina style environment also creates a nice getaway close to campus.
There’s an assortment of high and low tables along with a wide bar displaying all the available drinks. The natural lighting of the restaurant is very calming and adds to the overall easy-going feeling of the place.
The art was another notable detail, including pieces made for specially for Taco Beach. Various Latin-influenced paintings, tapestries and surfboards with small murals done in a style reminiscent to Baja California dons the walls of the restaurant.
Taco Beach is an enjoyable place to grab some food or sit down and enjoy a housemade drink. Conversation flows easily as the bartenders and waiters are all extroverted and genuinely enjoy talking with customers.
I recommend this place for any size group of friends or for anyone looking to spend time on their own and unwind. Taco Beach will deliver a good time regardless of how many people you are with at an affordable price.