On this episode of Taco Shoppin we hit a neighborhood steeped in Chicano culture, where you can feast your eyes on art and your stomach on legit Mexican food – Barrio Logan.
From the outside, Las Cuatro Milpas looks unassuming, and small. There’s a narrow door with a long line of people stretching out of it, sometimes around the block.
At 11:00 a.m. on a Tuesday there were at least 30 people waiting to satisfy their taco cravings – Policemen, families, ladies lunching, hipsters, construction workers, business people, Las Cuatro Milpas feeds them all.
Tonya warned us that when we got to the counter, we needed to be ready with our order because las abuelas in charge of this cafeteria-style system would boot us to the back of the line if we didn’t have our s**t together.
A mental check list was made as we crossed the threshold into, what turned out to be, a giant multi-room space set up with large steel tables and red, checkered, vinyl tablecloths.
Behind the food counter a row of Mexican women manned giant cauldrons of rice and beans (cooked with chorizo) and plunged metal instruments into bubbling oil to retrieve golden fried rolled tacos, which they stacked in a giant pyramid nearby.
The menu: Only a few items long. The pace: Frantic.
The entire kitchen is open, so you can literally see your food being cooked to order. On the far side of the eating area, large stainless steel tables are positioned and powdered in flour, where more ladies labor over piles of rolled dough shaping tortillas. They roll, pound and stack them right next to the customers who sit there eating them.
This place is open six days a week – Monday through Saturday and their hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (or whenever they run out of food, which we’re told DOES happen.) It’s also a cash only joint, so come prepared.
We ordered tacos de pollo y tacos de cerdo (chicken tacos and pork tacos), a beef tamal, rice and beans and rolled tacos with chicken.
We also had a hoard of hot sauce snagged from the cafeteria line. Sonic put it best when he said, “This hot sauce is hotter than your baby-daddy’s mixtape.” If you like it hot (like we do) then this is your place, if not, use caution and a gently pour.
The beef tamal was definitely the star of this show, with a thick masa casing so moist you could see a layer of sweat on it. It held it’s shape under the weight of a generous amount of beef filling. We will dream about this tamal, tonight.
The chicken and pork tacos were served in a crispy shell and had generous portions. The meat was very tender and well seasoned.
“This tastes like you went next door to your friend Teresa’s house and her nana was in there making you an afternoon snack.” Tonya soliloquized, “It’s bomb.”
Rolled tacos with chicken were dressed with just the right amount of Mexican crema, which is like sour cream, but runnier. They looked amazing stacked on their golden pyramid. They tasted great, crispy, not oily, not drowning in sides. These totally lived up to our expectations.
Watch the video up top and keep an eye out for our next Taco Shoppin Tuesday. AND, if you have any suggestions of where we should go next, hit us up!