Category Archives: Mexican food

Lots of Soul in This Bonners Ferry, Idaho Restaurant

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Tracy delivers the love, and the food, at Soulshine in Bonners Ferry, Idaho

There isn’t a strong tradition of ethnic food in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. So, Tracy Truesdell and Josh Sherven decided to spice things up when they opened Soulshine (“Love and Food”), a little, vibrantly coloured joint in the town’s compact, historic downtown. Sampling their burritos, bowls and wraps is like taking a vicarious trip around the world through your taste buds.

Consider the chile verde, featuring Josh’s tomatillo salsa verde recipe from his days in Mexico. I get this flavourful, pungent sauce ladled over whole pinto beans (cooked in house), rice and guacamole. Africa is represented with a banana chutney, Thailand with a peanut-sauce medley and the Middle East with a Marrakesh salad. They’re even considering adding a Swedish pulled-pork dish as an occasional special.

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The chile verde has lots of Mexican kick

Tracy and Josh are a lively, friendly couple, happy to share their scratch-made global cuisine or give me a sample of a not-so-international dish—rich, house-made ice cream.

As I leave, I stare up at the sign over the door. “But where’s the love?”

“It’s in the food,” exclaims Tracy. And in the people.

Soulshine
6428 Kootenai Street, Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Weekdays 9 am-3 pm. Closed weekends
208-597-3326

Finding Marvelous Mavens to Steer Your Road-Trip Eats

At Sleight of Hand Cellars, dynamo Traci is a wealth of dining and drinking suggestions

At Sleight of Hand Cellars, dynamo Traci is a wealth of dining and drinking suggestions

I tend to heavily research my road-trip food stops. I’ll spend hours poring over Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews and Googling for dining nuggets. I end up with a script that guides me for a month of gorging and guzzling over, say, a 5,000-mile swath of the southwest U.S.

But sometimes it’s nice to just follow my nose and, hopefully, discover gems off the beaten path. It helps tremendously, in this regard, to find a local savant or two, with similar sensibilities, who can steer you to some unpublicized standouts.

So when we’ve got three days to spend in Walla Walla, Washington and no agenda to pursue, I’m happy to solicit and accept spontaneous suggestions. These leads come primarily from two winery servers, who are sharp as tacks and more than willing to be impromptu tour guides. Continue reading

Angling for Good, Cheap Mexican Food in Walla Walla

Dora's Deli has a unique combination: Mexcian food and fishing worms

Dora’s Deli has a unique combination: Mexcian food and fishing worms

How can you not like a place that sells Mexican food and worms? Especially when the tortillas for the substantial tacos are hand pressed and the choice of toppings includes lengua (tongue). Continue reading

Guerilla Tacos Elevates Food Truck Fare to Spectacular

Los Angeles's Guerilla Tacos elevates the Mexican pocket food to spectacular

Los Angeles’s Guerilla Tacos elevates the Mexican pocket food to spectacular

Guerilla tactics include keeping on the move so folks don’t always know where you are. As a food truck, Guerilla Tacos certainly accomplishes that, setting up outside various Los Angeles-area coffee shop locations (such as Blue Bottle and Blacktop) each week.

But it throws me a curve when the truck is at a special event some six miles from where I’m expecting it to be. Still, I can be persistent in pursuit of search of good road food and soon track this roaming restaurant down.

Another guerrilla strategy is throwing people for a loop. And owner/”professional cocinero” Wes Avila definitely achieves this with taco takes on his daily menu you won’t find anywhere else—a blend of influences from his travels to places like France, Spain, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Guerilla Tacos sets up outside various Los Angeles coffee shops

Guerilla Tacos sets up outside various Los Angeles coffee shops

Take my steaming hot delicacy of thinly sliced summer squash with runny guajillo chile, cashews, queso (Mexican cheese) and herbs. It’s a strange combination that works spectacularly well. Other wide-eyed customers are tackling a cauliflower taco with Medjool dates ($5) or, get this, blue crab and potato with sun gold tomato. For larger appetites, there’s a cheese and tomatillo torta ($11) and a sirloin burrito ($10).

What guerrilla manoeuvre will mad chef Wes spring on his unsuspecting followers next?

Guerilla Tacos
Check the website for daily locations in and around Los Angeles
Daily 10 am-2 pm

Sampling a Flight of Tantalizing Tacos at Guisados in Los Angeles

A feast for the eyes, and tastebuds: A sampler plate of tacos at Guisados in Los Angeles

A feast for the eyes, and tastebuds: A sampler plate of tacos at Guisados in Los Angeles

I’m looking down a long list of tacos at Guisados, a gleaming corner joint on a colourful, noisy Latino street in Boyle Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles. There are 15 choices in all, many featuring Guisados’ signature braised meats.

I ask the server a bunch of questions, essentially dithering, till she suggests the sampler, featuring six mini tacos. Perfect. In one fell swoop, I can try nearly half the menu, without breaking the bank or bursting my stomach lining.

Time to dig in

Time to dig in

The braising in various sauces results in rich, flavourful mouthfuls of chicken, pork and beef goodness. They’re all served on handmade corn tortillas, made from fresh-ground masa.

My highlights are a chicken mole poblano and a Cochinta Pibil—shredded pork in a red achiote sauce with black beans and habanero chile. Noting the written warning, on the latter, to “proceed with caution”, I wisely dial down the heat rating to five out of 10. A house-made horchata is the perfect cool down for this little furnace blast.

Guisados
2100 East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue (three other Los Angeles locations)
Monday to Saturday 10:30 am-8 pm, Sunday 9 am-5 pm
323-264-7201

La Azteca Tortilleria: The Best Burrito in America?

Siblings Chris and Cynthia Villa help run the family show at Los Angeles's renowned La Azteca Tortilleria

Siblings Chris and Cynthia Villa help run the family show at Los Angeles’s renowned La Azteca Tortilleria

East L.A. It’s a phrase that awakens a voice in my head: “Don’t let your car break down here.” But such stereotypes often just keep one from experiencing colourful, unpretentious neighbourhoods. That’s certainly the case when I venture to *La Azteca Tortilleria, on a Latino commercial street that certainly seems safe enough, at least at mid-day.

As you may have read in one of my recent San Francisco posts, a Mission District Mexican joint was voted as having America’s best burrito, beating out, among others, perennial top pick La Azteca. I had to find out for myself and, sorry, it’s no contest.

It's hole-in-the-wall cheap for food this outstanding

It’s hole-in-the-wall cheap for food this outstanding

La Azteca’s chile relleno burrito with asada meat (about $7) may well be the best burrito I’ve ever eaten. Longtime owners the Villa family start each day by grinding the corn for their fresh tortillas. You can certainly taste the quality in this lightly toasted wrap.

But that’s just the warm-up for what’s inside—a smoking hot mix of good steak, beans and the kicker, a whole chile relleno dipped in egg and then fried. I can’t fathom why this isn’t a more widespread practice, though Villa daughter Cynthia admits she couldn’t bring herself to eat a relleno burrito till late adolescence.

I pour on some house-made pico de gallo to heat things up a little more. Then I launch into this big, bad boy, living dangerously by eating it in the front seat of my car. It’s so good, I’m nearly halfway through before I remember to grab my camera.

My hands are trembling too much to get a sharp photo of this bad boy, but you get the idea

My hands are trembling too much to get a sharp photo of this bad boy, but you get the idea

La Azteca Tortilleria (they don’t bother with things like a website or Facebook page)
4538 East Cesar East Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles
Tuesday to Sunday 6 am-3:30 pm. Closed Monday