Inching closer to #100…….
Today for lunch I wanted to go someplace different, a little more out of the way, than I’ve been doing so far. I have a few little places on my list that would qualify. I picked out El Abajeño Tacos, which is right outside of Denio’s near the corner of Atkinson St and Church St / Vineyard Rd. When I got there I knew I had picked the right one. Let me preface the rest of this by saying that I’ve never been to Denio’s (I know, blasphemy). I’ve never driven by it any closer than on Foothills. This part of Roseville was a complete mystery to me. I thought to myself while eating, if you had knocked me out and I woke up here that I wouldn’t think I was in Roseville.
I first drove by El Abajeño while looking for a parking spot (I did not realize that they have a small lot in back) and there was one or two people just sitting down in the patio area. This was at about 11AM and it looked like I had picked a good time. I was wrong about that. In the minute or less it took me to go down another block and make a u-turn the entire patio had filled up! I eventually found a spot a block or so away on Church and made my way back. On the way I spotted a hole in the wall tamale joint that I didn’t know existed. I might check that out soon.
Once inside I had a better idea of what kind of place this was. I had read some Yelp reviews last night to get an idea of what they serve, since they have no online presence, but I didn’t get the impression that it was as small as it was. Just about 6 feet inside the door you are literally in the center of the room. There are three square tables, 2 of them pushed together for a larger group. The kitchen is open to the dining room and right there. Against the far wall a little table is set up where the register is and a cooler of beverages is just to the side. I wish I could have taken a photo but the place was so busy the entire time I was there that it would just be of people’s backs.
I looked over the tiny menu briefly, but I mostly knew what I wanted after reading the reviews. Obviously the main thing they have is tacos, which are cheap at just over a buck each. They also have burritos, tortas, quesadillas, tostadas and some larger plates like chile colorado and combos, which come with rice & beans. I picked out three tacos, 1 adobada (marinated pork), birria (goat) and pescado fish (50¢ more). I also ordered a side of rice & beans and a bottle of Mexican Coke. For a couple minutes while I put my wallet away and tried to figure out where I would sit, since it was completely packed, I had to keep moving because I was completely in the way of everyone, customers, the server that was going in an out with plates of food, you name it. Luckily the couple that was sitting at the single square table got up and left and I was able to sit down and relax. Just a minute later and a woman brought out my rice & beans, followed by the birria and adobada tacos, and finally just a minute or so after that the fish taco.
At the table there was salt, Tapatio sauce and three unmarked containers with hot sauce. I smelled each one but couldn’t tell if there was a difference. The tacos are the small street-taco type on a corn tortilla. They were easy to pick up and had fresh chopped onions and greens on them. I honestly don’t know which one was which between the birria and adobada. Both were ground/shredded and looked similar. If I had to guess I would say the slightly darker meat was the goat. Even after biting into each, I wasn’t really sure. They even tasted similar to me. Both were decent but not mind blowing. I think the flavor of the meat just wasn’t as bold as I would have liked. It seemed like more of a supplement to the onions and tortilla. I added just a small splash of the hot sauce from the largest unmarked container to make it more interesting.
The rice & beans were really good! Both were hot and the rice was nice and soft. I pretty much scraped the plate clean. Now the fish taco, this was the star. When I think about fish tacos I think of Rubios and On the Boarder. This was better than both of those. It’s a simple piece of deep fried white fish with a little dollop of sour cream and pico de gallo. I squeezed the little slice of lime over it and took a bite. The fish is perfectly crispy and had just the right amount of tasty batter that didn’t cover up the flavor inside. The pico de gallo had just a little bit of heat to it, just enough to make you notice it. I am glad I saved this for last because it was amazing. I know I’ll be back here for more!
Overall, neat little hole in the wall taco joint. Very limited seating and it seems to be a very busy place, at least on the weekend when Denio’s is in full force. Mexican Coke is a +. Awesome fish tacos, great rice & beans. Fast and friendly service. Also, if you speak Spanish you’ll feel right at home
Here is a take out menu I scanned: PDF