There’s no telling where a high school friendship may go – case in point, Kevin Lee and Eric Doyle, who were best buddies at Orange High, stayed in touch as they went their separate ways, and then reunited to open Tacovation.
They planned to open last July, but many unforeseen glitches (broken furniture, unexpected permits, health department demands) caused delays, and had a serious impact on their financial nest egg. They prevailed, and opened this small eatery at 1948 N. Tustin in October.
Everything here is a la carte: all sauces, cremas, pickled vegetables, beans and so on are created daily in-house. The tacos are street size – eight-inch, but do not come filled with shredded lettuce and a spoonful of unidentifiable meat! They are all complimentary to one’s taste buds and far from “fast food, Mexican.”
Choose from five chef-created tacos, priced from $3 to $6 each.
Fish: chunk of beer-battered cod – pickled red cabbage, citrus crema, peppers;
Tri-tip: grilled shredded tri-tip (very tender), kimchi¸ chipotle crema, cilantro, cheese;
Flank: grilled steak, creamy chimichurri sauce, pickled red onion, cilantro, radish;
Chicken: shredded chicken, pickled red onion, cilantro, salsa, chipotle crema;
Vegetarian: sweet potatoes, black bean mash, pickled cabbage, pickled peppers, salsa on a vegetarian tortilla (made with jicama).
Besides, or as well as, the tacos, a variety of sides is listed on the wall-sized blackboard. Quesadillas (also street size) with cheddar and chipotle sauce are $2, or, with chicken, $4. Carnitas with onions, cilantro and chipotle crema are $4. Grandma’s Spanish rice, black beans, refried beans, chips and salsa, are all $2 each.
The taco fries are definitely worth consideration -- freshly made fries smothered in refried beans, cheese, chipotle crema, pickled red onions and jalapenos. This tasty, generous serving is recommended to share if you order tacos or other items.
The red and white wines were too sweet for my tastebuds, but may easily suit another’s taste. There are eight tap beers at $5-6; sangria and wine is $5; single margaritas are $4, or a double is $7; sodas and jarritos (Mexican sodas) run $1.50.
Kevin grew up with his grandmother, and inherited his joy of cooking in her kitchen. When she died, he moved to Sacramento and spent three years or so making use of these skills on a food truck. When the truck was sold, he decided to fulfill grandma’s wish and attend culinary school, after which he plied his trade at a restaurant in Idaho.
Eric, meanwhile, was honing his business acumen developing boot camps for fitness start-ups. He found the vacant spot on Tustin, called Kevin, and they made the big decision.
Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Tues. – Sat.; Sunday until 4 p.m.; closed on Monday. Phone for carry-out, (714) 600-1404.
A stop at Tacovation may preclude your desire to return to a taco chain ever again. Buen appetite – and tell them the Foothills Sentry sent you!