Response: "Must be the taco."
Today my two friends and I went on the aforementioned taco quest. It turned out to be more than a simple taco expedition. The adventure was a resounding success and turned into a mini-road trip replete with Americana, lengua, and breathtaking views.
We headed off for Pescadero, CA at around 4pm. To experience the longest (?) Bay Area bridge, we took the San Mateo, and arrived in tiny Pescadero from Hwy 1. Hwy 1 was scenic, as its signs suggest. The sky was grey and matched the color of the ocean. Only the tiniest sliver of sunshine broke on the waves, far out, near the horizon.
In Pescadero we missed the taqueria on first pass. The taqueria is quite literally in the gas station and no signs mark its location. Fortunately, we doubled back and found it next to the cash register at the only gas station in town (regular gas: $3.49/gallon!!)
To my chagrin, there were no tamales dulce. To A (my mascot)'s disappointment, they were also out of cabeza and ojos. We ordered two fish tacos, one lengua, one al pastor, one carne asada, and the carnitas. Dear God, the carnitas. The carnitas reigned supreme. The pork was juicy, perfectly charred to a crisp on the fatty bits, and bursting with flavor. Paired with the jalapenos/carrots, cilantro, and salsa, this taco was unbelievably good. I also enjoyed the chips, which I thought were perfectly salty, rather oily, and nice and thin.
We dined next to seemingly local teens and a local family discussing quinceaneras. The atmosphere was very small town and friendly. I felt like a total idiot when my cell phone rang. Hello? Not cool.
Post-mountaintop taco experience, we headed across the street to Duarte's Tavern. This place is o-l-d and well-established. We were totally full from the tacos and ordered only pie and coffee. Between the olallieberry and the strawberry rhubarb the olallieberry won. At first I was skeptical about the crust. It looked kind of thick and prone to being dense and dry. I was pleasantly mistaken and found the whole thing to be kind of toasty flavored, light, and flaky.
Duarte's would be a good place to hit up for dinner or lunch. It won (what appears to be) a pretty phenomenal award three years ago: the James Beard Foundation Award - granted to only four restaurants a year! Duarte's also has a tavern in back complete with fake leather stools and swinging doors.
More to be continued...