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Los Tapatios

Creative Mexican dishes hidden in a mini strip mall are a must-find

The Chile Relleno Authentico -- a creamy, cheesy delight. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: Where area diners have traditionally avoided strip mall eateries, Los Tapatios is doing its part to change that perception. Creative Mexican dishes are served up seven days a week in a tiny strip mall on the edge of Fircrest, and the locals are pouring in. This week, Jackie and Dutch head out to check it out.

JACKIE: Admittedly, I haven't cruised down Orchard for some time now, and the last time I was here I was disappointed that this sweet little strip mall was near empty. So, I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely the space has fleshed out. As soon as you enter Los Tapatios' doors, you're smacked in the face with tasty aromas. I was excited to dig in. I started with the Meat Nachos. Crisp tortilla chips are layered with REAL cheese (always a plus in my book) and a sprinkling of carne asada, jalapenos, a drizzle of sour cream and ample dollop of guacamole. The nachos themselves are pretty straight forward; scoop some salsa onto each bite and you're in business. The salsa has a nice heat that builds. I preferred it to each of the hot sauces provided but that's just a matter of personal preference.

DUTCH: I jumped on the Carne Asada Fries. Crispy fries are loaded with plenty of carne asada, a mixture of cheddar and Monterey Jack (also REAL cheese), fresh guacamole and a drizzling of sour cream. There is plenty here for two people, and if you devour them like we did, then you don't need to worry about them getting soft and mushy.

JACKIE: The burrito was pretty standard, as well. A warmed tortilla is packed with your choice of meat, refried beans, and rice with a side of fresh lettuce, pico de gallo and sprinkling of cheese. The burrito was more beans than meat, and floppier than I would have liked, but satisfied all the same.

DUTCH: The Tacos de Alambre are a must-try here. Onions and green peppers are grilled before being combined with savory carne asada, bacon, and topped with melted Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. I opted for the flour tortillas, but corn is also available if that is your go-to. A side of lettuce, tomatoes and more cheddar offers an additional textual component to the already flavorful dish. Three tacos are enough to be filling, but the added small servings of refried beans and rice are a nice touch. As a final touch, I added the house hot sauce to the tacos, beans, and even the rice for a little kick.

JACKIE: Finally, the Chile Relleno Authentico. A poblano pepper is toasted, filled with Monterey Jack cheese then breaded and fried, added to that is a generous dousing of roasted pepper crema sauce, drizzle of sour cream and a side of refried beans and rice. The result is a creamy, cheesy concoction. My plan of attack was to add a dollop of that delicious salsa and get a bit of each component onto my fork before shoveling it into my face.

LOS TAPATIOS, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sunday-Monday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, 4040 S Orchard St., Fircrest

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