The Texas BBQ Civil Rights Heritage Tour: Day 2, Claremont to Phoenix

Frank Sinatra is the last person I’d expect to find in a modest grave on the outskirts of Palm Springs.

DSC01011But there he is in a field of other flat, inconspicuous grave markers in a cemetery blocks away from the interstate.  The pilgrim tokens left there were remarkably understated: a golf ball and the cap from a beer (?) bottle that reads “High Life.” The setting really takes the bounce out of his epitaph, “The best is yet to come.”

Good tacos at El Taco Asado on the corner of El Cielo and Ramon Roads.

108 degrees in Phoenix. Tomorrow, the chile capital of the United States, Hatch, NM.

Sacramento: Chandos Tacos

Chandos Tacos, 863 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA, 916-641-TACO

I’ll drive a long ways for a good taco. Fortunately, I don’t have to drive far in northern California. Plenty of tacquerias and taco trucks put together some very tasty samples. But a really good taco is hard to find. At the moment, I’m in the frustrating position of having found a tacqueria that has mastered the meat but not the sauce and another tacqueria that has really good sauce but only adequate meat. A little taco-matchmaking is called for.

Chandos Tacos, owned and operated by the Madrigal family under the leadership of young Chandos Madrigal, really knows how to grill meat. They threw themselves a richly deserved first birthday party this weekend. I went with some friends to sample the $1 tacos (usually $1.75). We found a big crowd of other tacquistas already in line. To my everlasting shame, I ate seven tacos: 1 carnitas, 1 birria, 1 carne asada, 1 adobado, 1 tongue, and 2 fish tacos. The meat in all of them were what they should have been: crispy carnitas, tender tongue, smoky birria. My favorite, however, was the fish and the carnitas.

  My two reservations are the sauce they make and use and the seasoning. The sauce could be hotter; the meat could be better seasoned. Just a tad more salt, Chandos, please. Would you consult with whoever it is at La Favorita on Florin who makes the salsas? Other than those nitpicks, I love the tacos here.