Two Tacos in Paradise
Did you know Des Moines is known for its tacos? Ok, maybe it’s not, but this California native has enjoyed some of the best tacos around, right here in the heartland. Among my favorites are the vegan chorizo tacos from Tacopocalypse, El Bait Shop’s fish tacos, Dos Rios’ fish tacos, and the topic of today’s post, fish tacos at Taqueria Sonora.
What? You’ve never heard of Taqueria Sonora? They’ve been around for just over a year at 800 First Street in West Des Moines. I remember reading about it in the Des Moines Register when they opened, but not until a few weeks ago did I finally drag my downtown living tush to West Des Moines for dinner.
But first, the salsa. My lovely wife Lil judges Mexican restaurants solely on salsa. Her favorite Mexican restaurant in the world is Pancho Villa Taqueria in San Francisco, and it is mainly because they have an all you can eat salsa bar. We heard rumors of Taqueria Sonora’s five varieties and were pleased to see six! While Pancho Villa still wins over Lil’s heart and soul, I have to say both do an amazing job. In addition to the five salsas shown in the picture, there is a standard “table salsa” which doesn’t disappoint. All six are homemade, and all six are free with dinner. These salsas run from mild to a heat-filled habanero, so make sure you have the waiter explain each salsa for you.
Beyond the salsa there is of course the food. I ordered two fish tacos (one grilled, one beer-battered), and a cheese chimichanga. Other than these three items, I think I was limited to a veggie burrito and maybe ordering fajitas without meat. The rest of the menu is treif city, with less traditional-by-Iowa-standards parts (tongue, head) and animals (goat) featured. From non-kosher-esque reviews I have read of the place, these items are pretty good. Let’s stick to my order though, going from worst to first.
I was pretty excited to see a cheese chimichanga on the menu. I think the last chimichanga I ate was at Garcia’s, probably celebrating a family birthday 20 or so years ago. Not as good I as I remember, and probably because it’s just a deep fried cheese burrito. I ended up being upset that I ordered this because it was too filling, taking away the possibility of ordering more of what was to come.
I ordered a fish taco in both preparation styles mainly so I could write about both here. I was more in the mood for grilled fish but I took one for the team, I mean blog. The grilled fish was ok. Not spectacular, not really memorable, but better than most. I would order it again. I’d write more, but remember I just said it wasn’t really memorable?
Here’s what was memorable: the beer-battered fried fish taco. Wow! Have you ever sunk your teeth into something that was crisp but not crispy, firm but not too firm, and wrapped in goodness? It was that good. I’m praying that when I go back, my first experience with this taco does not turn out to have been a fluke. How to make this better? Order a side of guacamole like I did and spread a little in the delicate tortilla they server these up in. The next time I go to Taqueria Sonora, you can bet I will be ordering three or four of these, a side of guac, and extra rounds of salsa. Ok, and maybe a margarita.
Where’s the best fish taco you have ever had, and what made it good?