#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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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.

#219: Dr. Bob’s Donuts & DoYos

On Saturday morning I headed over to old town Roseville to check out something new.  This is Dr. Bob’s Donuts & DoYos, and it’s not your typical donut shop.  They are located on Lincoln Street near Boxing Donkey and Pacific Street Cafe.  Dr. Bob’s focus is on organic, gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free donuts and frozen yogurt.  When I first heard about this place, about a month ago via Reddit, I was pretty skeptical.  Nevertheless it went on this list and here I was to cross it off.  I think this is the only other truly vegan place in Roseville aside from Baagan.  Thinking back to that visit I recall feeling much the same way before eating there.  Unsure of what I was about to walk into, probably a little bit nervous.  My friend Dan commented about the “fish out of water aspect” of the post, which looking back was actually pretty fun.  With all this going through my head again I stepped through the front door.

Up front is all the seating.  About 2/3rds of the way in you get to a little counter with the register on your right and drinks to the left.  Just past this is where you get started.  When I got to this point there were a few people, first-timers much like myself, who were just finishing their walkthrough by the owner Tasha.  She greeted me and pretty much ran me though the same thing.  She said that on Saturdays most of the customers are coming in for their first time, so she probably does a lot of explaining on this day.

You start with a vanilla or chocolate SteamFresh donut.  These are made fresh throughout the day as opposed to deep fried donuts that are made in a giant batch for the whole day at a traditional donut shop.  From there you move to a station with sauces and glazes to add some flavor.  Some of these include bourbon-vanilla glaze, chocolate glaze, coconut glaze, Himalayan salted caramel and a Nutella-like sauce.  From there you move to the fruit station where you add fresh fruits like blueberries, bananas and grapes to add some natural sweetness.  As one woman next to me mentioned, as she sampled some of the sauces, the chocolate graze actually wasn’t that sweet, so the fruit helps add the sweetness you might be looking for.

Next to the fruit is a frozen yogurt machine which dispenses non-dairy froyo.  They call it a DoYo when you add this to your donut.  Past the fruit and yogurt are chia puddings.  I don’t know anything about chia puddings other that what I just read online about them, being essentially chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk, pure vanilla extract, maple syrup and a pinch of salt.  I didn’t explore them this time but I think I will when I return.  Last but not least is, what I would call, the texture station.  Here you can add lots of different types of crunchy items from almonds, hemp seeds, flax crunch, granola and fruits like dried cranberries and raisins.  If you need any more sweetness you can also find at this station a variety of sweeteners including a few different types of honey (Note: u/exit143 on Reddit pointed out that this is not vegan, which makes sense, although the topic does seem to be a bit controversial, at least in my initial reading.  Something to consider.), a vanilla flavored syrup and also a little shaker of something called Bob’s G*Sweet, which is labeled “6 time sweeter than sugar.”

If all of this is a little overwhelming, and it certainly was for me, you can start out with some pre-made donuts.  I went with the Bourbon Vanilla Blueberry.  Tasha suggested I add a drizzle of some of the fresh warm bourbon vanilla glaze.  I did so and also added some warm chocolate glaze as well.  Not really sure how strong any of these flavors were I tried to go easy on them.  Next I added a few more blueberries and some slices of banana to the size.  I finished it all off with a sprinkle of hemp seeds for a little added texture.  This is pretty much one of the creations listed on their website that I looked at in advance and thought sounded good.

The prices are based on weight, so I placed it on a scale by the register and she rung me up.  I grabbed a chocolate almond milk from the cooler behind me as well.  All together it came to $4.88, which actually surprised me, I had expected for some reason to be paying more like 6 or 7, especially with the drink.  So not crazy, but certainly more than your average donut+milk.  I took a seat and dug in.  I found both the bourbon-vanilla glaze and the chocolate glaze to be much less rich than I would have guessed by looking at them.  They also didn’t leave a sugary coating in your mouth leaving you in a Got Milk situation (a good thing).  Indeed, my chocolate almond milk (which was delicious by the way) was not really needed that much and I drank most of it on the way out.  The fruits were both good and were the primary source of sweetness in this creation.  The bourbon-vanilla glaze definitely did contribute some of it’s own however.  The blueberries were nice and juicy.  As for the donut itself, it is much more dense then a typical donut.  I thought it might have a grainy texture but instead found it to be softer like a cake, maybe like a flourless cake due to the density.

Like my experience with Baagan, I was pleasantly surprised here at Dr. Bob’s Donut’s & DoYos.  One thing that I think helped out with the initial impression in both instances were the extremely friendly and helpful owners.  I think that’s key for keeping anyone that’s not familiar with this type of food (e.g. me) from thinking “this is weird” and turning around within a minute of walking in.  I also happened to meet Dr. Bob himself during my visit who like Tasha was super nice and happy to see me experiencing their donuts for the first time.  I recommend this place, interesting stuff.

Here were a few creations made by customers while I was there.