I guess you can call it Mexican Food…in Arcadia.
Slowly but surely, Mexican Food…the wrong Mexican Food…is killing my love for…well…Mexican Food.
What do I mean? It depends on what you mean by Mexican Food.
For me growing up, Mexican Food meant Tex-Mex. The cheesey-meaty-cheesy stuff that got served up to you hot on a plate. The stuff my Dad grew up eating (and eating fondly) in South Texas. The stuff he still loves dearly.
And yet, I’m done. Finished. Nearly kaput with it? Why? Because I’ve had real Mexican Food. Stuff that at least approximates what actual Mexicans eat. It’s different than Tex-Mex, livelier, tastier. The flavors are more explosive. The texture and feel is different than what you’ve known.
But the fact that I’ve had that kind of Mexican Food wasn’t the only thing that killed it.
No. It was also the Stuff I had…at Taco Lita.
Don’t get me completely wrong. I hated this place. I hated it with the passion of a million burning suns. I also know that Taco Lita’s is an institution in Arcadia, and no amount of Food critic can stop an institution, any way, any how. People in Arcadia love Taco Lita…for some reason. I wish I could stop them, but I can’t.
Simply put, the stuff at Taco Lita is great Mexican food for people who’ve never had Mexican Food…ever. Seriously, the stuff at Taco Bell is tastier than this.
You know what it was for me? It was having Mexican Food in Highland Park and Atwater Village, made by Mexican-Americans to feed other Mexican-Americans. That was like the flavor of pure sunshine landing on my taste buds for the first time.
This was like eating something as tasty as copier paper…with chopped Iceberg lettuce.
At least the Lettuce was fresh.
Dull, dull, dull. Couldn’t stand it. Can’t wait to never go back again.
I’ll only bring my Father here if he wants to laugh at the place.
What am I saying? He’d love it.
Hard shell tacos. Flour tortillas with even more Iceberg lettuce and indifferent beans. Everything we’ve been told is wrong with Tex-Mex or Mexican-American Food under a sunny roof.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Over to Highland Park as fast as your little legs can carry you.
Still here? Damn.
I was about to write a detailed article (again for my Father) that would outline all the various kinds of Meats you can get at a real Taco Stand, translating them from their native Spanish into something he could grasp and use on his next visit. You know like…what’s the difference between Al Pastor and Cochinita Pibil, and what not?
No need for that here. You got your Beef Tacos, your Chicken Tacos…
…and that’ really it. Beef or Chicken.
I went to a place recently in Glendale called Toro’s. I wanted my usual four Al Pastor tacos, and it was late so they didn’t have a lot left. That day I could only get two Al Pastor and two Carne Tacos. While they were all pretty good, my God there was a flavor different between the Beef and the Pork. Pork is the best way to go for Tacos. Beef just…doesn’t taste all that extraordinary. It’s good…but…Pork, especially Al Pastor pork just seems to Pop.
I got a Hard shell Beef Tacos. Complete with Iceberg Lettuce, nearly flavorless Tomatoes, radioactive orange colored cheese, and….and…
…whatever. (Don’t blame yourself, Taco Lita. Your staff did an admirable job, and they served what it is you serve well. They made it the best they could possibly make it, but…it’s just not my jam.)
I also got a massive Beef Burrito, and…same story. It was the size of a football, and about as tasty as one as well.
The first thing you taste when you bite into it is flour, yes…the flour from the counter, as well as a lot of Tortilla. Fine. The next bite should be Burrito…and it was…if you count Iceberg Lettuce (I haven’t said that enough have I?) as a top flight Burrito filing.
(Psst!) I don’t count Iceberg–yeah, you get the idea.
Awful. Terrible. Dull. Make this memory of mine go away.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: If this review doesn’t serve as a major warning, I don’t know what I can you for you.
PARKING: Plentiful. Plentiful and free. There is a huge U-Shaped lot that curves around the restaurant. There should be no problem finding a space. Most people get their Tacos to go (though I don’t know why), so most Parking is transitory.
Taco Lita (No. 15)
120 E. Duarte Rd.
Arcadia, CA 91006
Tel: (626) 445-2889
Daily: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM