Sibling Rivalry: City Tacos’ Little Sister
City Tacos has a sister!!
The proud papa and owner, Gerry Torres, was present as usual, cleaning and working as hard as everyone else, in his (and chef/ partner Eduardo Baeza's) newly opened ceviche bar, Tostadas.
Walking inside felt like crossing the threshold into vacation and evoked the sense of a savory, ice cream parlor - gleaming white with swirls of green and pink; the signature, seahorse symbol scattered here and there. Sunlight streamed from floor to ceiling windows, bouncing up to the rafter’s exposed, raw beams before drawing the eye to succulents sprouting from wooden pallets hanging as living art just a few inches below. A communal table's log-like structure was planted in the center of the dining room and a few four-tops were scattered along the side (also some sidewalk seating).
Shelves of produce were set up behind the counter like a miniature market, reminding me of grade school where you could make believe you were visiting the post office or grocery store while still in the classroom. Not only was it playful and clever, but fresh and functional in the best possible way.
Auqachile: large Mexican shrimp, lemon juice, red onion, chile serrano, cilantro, cucumber, garlic ($6)
The tostada’s shell strained like a professional weightlifter under the massive shrimp that lay on top in abundance. So much shrimp! The nearly raw, butterflied shellfish was woven between noodles of cucumber, the subtle heat of chile serrano, and chopped leaves of cilantro. This summed up summer in one, crisp bite – so fresh and so clean.
La de Pato: duck meat, red onions, carrots, pear, green olives, habanero chile strawberry sauce ($5)
|"La de Pato" pictured without the strawberry/habanero sauce|
I was a little worried when ordering the duck in a fish place, but I couldn’t resist the combination of flavors! And it didn’t disappoint. First of all, there were about six slices of perfectly cooked duck breast on my crispy, corn wheel (aka, the wheel of fortune). Pear punched crunchy and sweet, as did the carrot, so I was a little worried that the strawberry sauce would be too much, but the berry was balanced so well with the spice of habanero, in what looked like a vinaigrette, that I ended up asking for extra. They originally forgot to add the sauce and I realized later that they forgot the olives too, but I didn’t mind. I knew they were still working out a few kinks and I would order this again in a heartbeat.
Caramon: shrimp, olive oil, sesame seeds, red onion, parsley, tomato, clam, orange and lemon juices, cilantro mayo ($6)
This would be skipped on my next visit. Besides seeming somewhat run of the mill with its pico de gallo-like flare, it had a strong bitterness that lingered. I’m not sure if it was the sesame and orange combo, but either way it wasn’t my favorite.
"To Do" Tostadas
Plus, I’d spotted two other tostadas I was dying to try -
1) Sandia: ahi tuna, watermelon, red onion, jimaca, apples, cucumber, mango, peanuts, soy, lemon juice, orange chipotle mayonnaise ($6)
2) Snapper: Red snapper fish, cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, serrano chile & clamato ($3.50)
The best part was that you could pick a few items to sample and it still only cost around $20.
Tugos (16 oz) $3.95
Tugos were fresh fruit and veggie smoothies made to order. We went for Tropical Rainbow (pineapple, papaya, peaches, strawberry, raspberry, mango, yogurt, and honey) and the Clockwork Orange (pineapple and papaya). They were still frothy from the juicer; velvety, pink and orange waves of euphoria. I couldn’t think of a better pairing for summer, seafood, or the ninety degree heat.
Just the Tip of the Tostada
They were working on getting an alcohol permit, as well as planning a fresh fish/ceviche market for to-go items. Tostadas more than measured up to its sibling, City Tacos, in every way – quality, price, cleanliness and creativity. The real triumph of both restaurants was the number of ingredients on each dish - usually around eight to ten components.
The plethora of toppings almost seemed nonsensical at first, like some wild crap shoot, as if the chef was some twisted, ingredient hoarder and the kitchen sink was about to be thrown in next, but then you took a bite and it all made sense. Everything was there for a reason; a well thought out plan of genius amongst the chaos.