I decided to stop by Taqueria El Tapatio for dinner tonight. This little ex-Taco Bell building right next to Baker Ben’s has been at least one other taqueria since I’ve been aware of it’s existence in the last few years, Taqueria San Jose. I’m not sure when it became El Tapatio. Technically it’s Taqueria El Tapatio #9. The side of their van parked out back shows a Folsom location, but my searches seem to indicate that it has closed. Google Maps shows the other 1-8 scattered around the bay area and southern CA. I ate here once, a few years ago when it was San Jose, and it was very meh. Probably why it changed over.
Tonight I arrived at about 5PM. There was a large family and a few other customers currently eating. Obviously it’s not a very big place since it’s in what was clearly a Taco Bell originally. I skimmed over the menu (PDF), which looked pretty typical, though I knew I would be getting the carnitas plate. The cashier was already waiting and greeted me when I stepped up to the counter. I told her my order while I looked behind her to the left where a cooler of bottled beverages was. I didn’t see a fountain. I figured I’d go with a Coke. When I said that she asked bottle or fountain, then stepped to the side to reveal the fountain sodas behind her. I saw Dr Pepper and switched to that. In hindsight I should have tried their horchata, which I saw her ladling out of a large container later on. I wonder if they make it there in-store since it wasn’t in one of the usual aguas frescas machines that constantly mixes the contents. My bill came to just over $11 and after paying I grabbed a table in the corner of the dining room.
The TV that was right above me was showing the FIFA World Cup Spain vs Mexico match fairly loudly. I heard/saw both of Spain’s goals towards the end of the game, “GOAAAAL! GOAAAAL! GOAAAAL! GOAAAAL! GOAAAAL!” The announcer was quite into it as they usually seem to be. At some point, while looking up at the TV, I noticed how precariously the satellite box was perched up there, which made me slightly nervous for a moment. Outside they have four tables with umbrellas set up, and today in the heat they also had a mister host running along the front of the building to cool anyone off that dared to sit out there.
I grabbed some chips and salsa from up near the counter. The chips were pretty average as far as taqueria chips go, which is to say pretty boring. Same as my El Parian visit last week I got the chipotle salsa and salsa de aguacate. The salsa de aguacate was pretty tasty, much like El Parians but perhaps with a hint of more lime flavor. The chipotle was standard, a little sweet and smokey with a kick.
My plate was brought out very quickly, probably in just under five minutes. This one was on the smaller side compared to most of the carnitas plates I’ve ordered in Roseville so far. It was cheaper than many, but not by more than a dollar or so. Corn tortillas wrapped up in foil were served in a little basket on the side. The rice was incredibly neon orange. I did not make any adjustments to the color (I almost never do anyway, but I wanted to make a point of how crazy orange it was). The sour cream and guacamole both looked very runny. I thought there was a lot of each but it turned out that they were just sitting atop a pile of lettuce. next to the pico de gallo. The beans were a little on the thin side, but not terrible. I thought they tasted OK. The rice on the other hand was nearly flavorless. I used a bit of it anyway for some additional texture in my tortillas. The guacamole was just as I suspected, very blah. I barely used any of it overall. The carnitas lived up to it’s potential far more than anything else on this plate. About half of it had a fantastic crisp to it. The other two quarters were either a bit dry or very melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavorful.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much that was compelling here beyond some pretty friendly, fast service and pretty decent carnitas. Everything else was very forgettable. Luckily, we have an abundance of good taqueria’s here in Roseville.