#243: Nixtaco Mexican Taqueria

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Nixtaco Taqueria is one of the newest spots in Roseville.  They opened just over 3 weeks ago at Cirby & Rocky Ridge, previously occupied by the short-lived Bhan Thai.  I’ve been hyper aware of their inevitable opening since following them on Facebook several months ago.  They are extremely active and had photos to share every day, even if a lot of them were meme-like, to work up anticipation.

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Owner Patricio Wise comes from Monterrey, Mexico and brings flavors from that region with him.  (random side note, my work has a plant in Monterrey and I look forward to bringing my colleagues here, when they occasionally visit our headquarters, to see what they think).  Nixtaco grinds corn and makes tortillas fresh every day, among other items.

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I met up with my parents for dinner last night.  The space has been hugely updated from when Bhan Thai was here.  There is still a bar/counter, but this one is completely new.  The space otherwise is rectangular and straightforward, a grid of 2-4 person tables with funky looking chairs (the Thai place had odd chairs too come to think of it).  At the end of the bar is the register where you place your order.

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The place was fairly packed when I arrived.  We were still waiting on my dad who was a few minutes behind, so I meandered up near the register to look at the menu. Patricio greeted me and asked if he could get me started with a beer and said we could pay when we placed the rest of the order.  That sounded great so I got a Biere Blanche, a witbier by The Monk’s Cellar on Vernon, took a little table marker and took a seat with a menu.

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Obviously the focus here is tacos, but they do have a good selection of appetizers and burritos.  They also serve brunch from 11-3 on Sunday.  They have 6 tacos to choose from, and if you’re like me you’ll want to try them all, but $3.50 a pop will get a little pricey and you probably won’t be able to finish them all.  Nixtaco had me covered though, they have a sampler for just $9 that has one of each of the 6 tacos on a 2.5″ tortilla, little baby tacos!  I ordered that and we got some guacamole to share (House made guacamole with real avocado, serrano chiles, tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Chips or tortillas)[$5.50].  My dad ordered the Short Rib Barbacoa burrito (Beef short-rib braised “barbacoa-style” in our guajillo-chipotle and onion braise)[$10] and my mom ordered two of the Shrimp Mazatlan Style tacos (Inspired by the classic “Taco Gobernador”: Sautéed shrimp, with caramelized bacon, garlic, and melted Oaxaca cheese)[$3.50ea].

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We were served complimentary salsas, in addition to the guac we had coming.  There were 3 or 4 of them, we were fairly certain the two were the same, but I might be wrong.  All were tasty and packed a little kick to them, but the most interesting and unique one had a peanut flavoring to it.  I found myself continuing to go back to it all throughout dinner.

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Our fresh guacamole arrived soon and we dug into it.  It was topped with bright red onions pickled in lime juice.  In fact, the whole thing had a strong lime flavor to it.  It was definitely good, but it would have been nice to be able to taste the avocados themselves a little more.  It was about this time that they had a line to the door, which persisted for much of our stay.  Things got a bit hectic.  We quickly ran out of chips since we were using them for both salsa and guac.  I asked someone rushing past our table if we could get some more.  It took a little while though.  They were clearly overwhelmed with the amount of customers that had, and were continuing to, pile in.

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My mom’s tacos arrived first, but had a random 3rd taco with them.  It took us a second to realize that this was not part of our order.  I think we may have received someone else’s plate, however it did have 2 of the tacos correct.  After that there was kind of a long wait before the other items finally came.  We were close to asking about them, but it was obvious that they knew something had been mixed up and were trying to find out where it went wrong.  Eventually, about 10 minutes after the first tacos arrived, my dad’s burrito and my taco sampler showed up.  So we ended up with an extra taco, which appeared to be the Short Rib Barbacoa.

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My mom was not crazy about the shrimp tacos, mostly because she didn’t seem to like the sauce that the Oaxaca cheese was melted into, and also because one of the shrimp still had a bit of tail remaining that didn’t get caught in cleaning them.  She did enjoy the short rib barbacoa though.  On the contrary I loved my shrimp taco.  The sauce was much thicker and richer than I was expecting and all three of my shrimp were well cleaned.

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The burrito wasn’t much to look at, but my dad liked it.  It’s hard to photograph a burrito and have it look good unless you cut it in half and can see into it, so I give the appearance a pass.

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My remaining five tacos were:

Chicharron (Pork belly sliced thin and roasted, then diced and sauteed in salsa verde. Lime-pickled onions on top).  This was really tasty.  The pork was incredibly tender and flavorful.  It pretty much melted in my mouth.

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Asado Norteño (Pork shoulder diced and slowly stewed in our orange-guajillo adobo. Avocado mousse on top).  This was rich and had a lovely citrus flavor to it.ETR 243 Nixtaco Mexican Taqueria 012 2016-06-25 18-51-38 Pollo en Mole (Shredded roasted chicken, simmered in our House-made mole. House-made crema and toasted black sesame seeds on top).  Easily the messiest of my tacos.  This was ok, nothing really stood out to me flavor-wise though.

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Short Rib Barbacoa (Beef short-rib braised “barbacoa-style” in our guajillo-chipotle and onion braise. Avocado mousse on top).  Similar to the Pollo en Mole, I felt it was a bit one-dimensional.

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Finally, the surprise hit and something I know I will be back for repeatedly: Rajas con Queso (Roasted poblano “in rajas”, sauteed with House-made crema, Oaxaca cheese and corn).  Who would have guessed that my favorite item would be the vegetarian option?!  This was so incredibly delicious, I was picking every last bit of poblano from the plate where it had escaped the little tortilla.

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Not every taco was for me, but overall I really enjoyed just about everything.  I definitely expect to return for full-sized Rajas con Queso.  And there were a few things on the menu that we didn’t order that I am very interested in checking out, including the Roasted Bone Marrow appetizer (something you don’t see too often in this area, but is usually delicious) and, from the brunch menu, the Nixtaco Poached Egg (Mexican take on Scotch Egg: soft poached egg, enrobed in our short rib barbacoa, then covered in masa and deep fried. Served on a bed guacamole with salsas verde and rosa).  That sounds amazing!

Website: http://nixta.co

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#242: Cheese Louise

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This post has been a long, long time in the making.  I originally heard about Cheese Louise over two years ago, in a Sac Biz Journal article from March 2013.  It was not that long prior that Extreme Java Jungle Cafe closed it’s doors.  However, they seemed to be joining forces and planned to share the space across from the Post Office on Vernon St.  Months went by with no update or observable progress. Meanwhile, the only other Cheese Louise, located in Downtown Sac, shut down.

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Eventually, Java Jungle posted a message on Facebook saying that they were not going to reopen with Cheese Louise because it was not working out between them.  It seemed that Cheese Louise would go it on it’s own.  At least another year passed with the “coming soon” sign in the window, yet nothing changed.  I gave up on it quite a long time ago, but at the beginning of this year, out of the blue, they actually opened!  However, it was with a big caveat, they didn’t have a food menu yet.  It was basically just a coffee shop with pastries as far as I could tell.  That went on for about 5 months I think.  Only very recently have they started serving food.  And with that, I finally visit this gourmet grilled cheese shop.

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I headed in for lunch yesterday right at noon.  There were only a few other customers in at the time.  The space felt wide open.  When Java Jungle was here, it was a maze of funky and mismatched furniture.  It’s much more uniform now, but feels a bit sterile and much, much less cozy (save for a couple of couches).  The fireplace that sits in the center of the right side of the dining room feels out of place now, without some armchairs to enjoy it in.

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As I waited in line I glanced over 2 of the 3 blackboard menus they had hanging over the counter.  The first listed some coffee beverages, the 2nd some sandwiches, and the 3rd was blank.  There were no descriptions so it was kind of difficult to figure out what to get.  Once I was next in line though, I could see a very rough photocopied paper menu that detailed the sandwiches better.  Below is that menu.

CheeseLouisSandwichMenu

There was a little board over the the left that listed a few smoothie flavors, strawberry, mango and peach.  In a display case next to that was a variety of pastries.  I saw some brownies [$1.25] in there so I figured I’d try one of those out for dessert.  I decided on the Porkie’s Friend (pulled pork, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese and apricot BBQ sauce on a ciabatta bun)[The blackboard said $6.95 but my receipt only shows $4.95…].  With it I got a side of french fries [$1.25] and a mango smoothie [$5.95].

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My smoothie was ready a few minutes before my food, which took about 15 minutes from when I paid.  I went up to the counter to pick the smoothie up.  It was fresh and tasted great.  It wasn’t overly sweet and had just a hint of a tartness to it.  My order was brought out to me as I tasted it.  The sandwich was more like a panini and less like a grilled cheese. There was a decent amount of Gouda in it though, enough to be able to taste it’s rich, smokey flavor in every bite.  The pork was tender and mixed in well with the apricot bbq sauce.  That sauce really dominated the sandwich.  It was incredibly sweet.  Traces of bacon surfaced here and there, but it was so overwhelmed it might as well not even been there.  The BBQ sauce and Gouda were the core of this sandwich.

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The fries were soft with a lightly crisp exterior and they were generously salted.  Without the salt I would have needed some ketchup but they made due as they were.  I saw another customer walk up to the counter and get a little container of ketchup, probably for their fries.  They don’t keep anything other than napkins at the tables.

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Finally I dug into my brownie a little bit.  I was close to full so I just had a few bites.  The consistency was perfect, it was nice and soft but slightly dense.  Unfortunately it wasn’t very sweet.  Rather it was like a darker, more bitter chocolate.  Not really what I had in mind.

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So, overall kind of a weird experience.  The sandwich and smoothie were good.  I probably would have preferred the sweetness be dialed back a bit on the BBQ sauce though.  It didn’t feel like a grilled cheese to me, and I think that’s the disappointing thing about this, not to say it was bad, just not at all what I’ve had in mind for the last 2+ years when I thought about gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches coming to Roseville.  I think I’d probably just go get the amazing grilled cheese at Yard House next time I’m in the mood for one.

Website: http://www.mycheeselouise.com

AM16: Taylor’s Corner

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I have an occasional habit of driving aimlessly in search of lunch on the weekend.  Last weekend this happened, and although I eventually settled on MooYah in Rocklin, the route I took in the end was less than direct, as the GPS trail below shows.  I noticed this little burger shack along the way that had me extremely curious though, and today I went back to check it out.

Route

This is Taylor’s (or Taylor’s Corner), aptly named as it sits right on the corner of Sierra College & Taylor in Loomis.  I find these type of places fascinating for some reason, probably because they are few and far between, although I know they’re not always very special (see Sam’s Classic Burgers).  This one I had high hopes for.  I think it was because they had a couple of distinctive features that set it apart from others.  They are open early for breakfast and they have a massive list of shake/malt flavors.

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I pulled in at around 11:30 and it was a little slow, just a few customers at the time.  The building is small and there is only outside seating.  Despite the heat of our Summers it seems like it’s actually a nice place to eat.  They have a big carport built over 4 standard picnic tables, and the other 5 tables towards the back end all have umbrellas.  On top of this, the place is set up with misters.  Today they only had the misters running on the main building itself, but with a breeze I was still getting a cool spray now and then all the way at the furthest table.

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I took several minutes to look over the menu, including the insanely long list of shakes. According to their website they are constantly changing and adding to it!  I finally settled on a Double Bacon Cheeseburger (mayo, pickles, lettuce, onions, cheese, bacon, ketchup & mustard)[$8.39], a side of Garlic Fries [$3.99] and a S’mores shake [~$3 or $4, price was not listed].  It was a bit more pricey than expected with my total coming to $17.49.

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The wait was not insignificant.  My shake took about 7 minutes and was brought out to me, and my food followed about 9 minutes later.  The shake was fantastic.  It was smoothly blended and had a chocolate and marshmallow-y flavor with a hint of graham cracker.  Like with Sam’s, the styrofoam cup kept it very cold for a while.

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My burger looked pretty great.  Lots of melted cheese and two fairly thick pieces of delicious-looking bacon stood out.  Underneath the slightly-thicker-than-In’N’Out patties was a small amount of shredded lettuce, a few rings of white onions and three pickles.  The sauces were light and only added hints of their flavors overall, letting the beef, cheese and bacon shine.  If they told me the bacon was cooked to order I would probably believe them.  It was easily some of the best bacon I’ve ever had on a burger (fancy restaurant burgers not included).  It was crisp, but not too crisp, and still had little bits of juicy fat to them.  The bun was perfectly soft and could have been baked fresh that day for all I knew.

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The fries were probably the weakest link out of the meal, and that’s not even to say they were bad!  The were extra golden and crispy, which I like in fries.  There was a whole lot of fresh minced garlic in them, though it was not apparent at first.  Much of it was in clumps down below the topmost fries.  It was tasty, I just feel that they were a buck or two overpriced for what they were.  I’d probably just get standard fries in the future.

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So overall, quite impressed with this little hidden (to me anyway, since I don’t think I had ever driven that stretch of Taylor before last week) gem just to the north of Roseville.  My meal was quite filling.  The prices were just a bit high, I feel, and the wait was fairly long, but I certainly enjoyed it, especially the awesome shake.