Apparently it's the original? I'm just surprised they spelled it right. Oh, and look! Raiders fans eat there! Wassup ese!
The morning after Christmas, Jason and I (hungover) decided to go get some tacos before the ladies arose from their drunken slumber. Down the street from our house and across from Glendale High is a little taco shack called “Taco Azteca.” All of our taco-eating friends agree, Taco Azteca is the shit. It was a complete surprise the first time we went. “Good tacos in Glendale?” Then, it had only a piece of plywood nailed to the outside of the building with the words “Taco Azteca” in messy black spray paint. The houseplants that hung around the dirty, rickety tables were for sale. And no dogs were “alowd. Sorry.” At least they were sorry.
They’ve since put on some new paint and given the place a general face lift. The houseplants are gone. And all the handwritten, misspelled “specials” have been replaced with actual signs in English, if only somewhat broken English. The menu board now offers English translations. But the food hasn’t changed: it’s still Mexican amazing.
The morning Jason and I visited, we ordered some carne asada and carnitas tacos, and a couple of carne asada burritos. After we sat down to wait for our food, a pair of white fellows arrived. One of them looked a little like David Cross, the other was on a cell phone talking to whomever they were getting food for. He had that annoying quality of speaking perfect English with no accent, except when he came to a Spanish word in a sentence and all of a sudden he was a Mexican. It was as if the word had been marinating in some sort of pungent Mexican accent sauce in the back of his throat for years just waiting to jump out of his mouth and say, “I SPEAK MEXICAN!” You know who else does it a lot? Giada on the Food Network. She probably spent a summer in Italy when she was in college, but now suddenly she’s Italian and can’t say any Italian word without letting you know that she knows how to say it the Italian way, “…so then you want to take about a pound of SPUH-GEE-TEEEEEE and put it into the pot…” It’s just fucking spaghetti lady, say it like a normal person. She needs a kick in the taco.
Nom, nom nom! How do you say "all of it" in Spanish?
“Do you want anything to drink?” The Translator asked into his phone. “Like a HORRRRRCHATA? Or a JARRRRRITOS?” Big, huge rolling Rs. Totally over exaggerated Spanish. So once he got the order over the phone down, it was time to get David Cross’ order. He made it clear in no uncertain terms that he would handle everything. He didn’t say it directly, but his body language said, “Look, these people can’t understand you, but I can converse with them. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”
“Would you like a BURRITO?” The Translator said to David like he was a child. And in a normal American accent, incidentally. Because if he said “burrito” in Spanish, David wouldn’t have understood him? David did want a burrito. “Okay, would you like chicken or beef?” (Still in baby talk.) David wanted chicken. “Okay,” he said, and turned to the dude at the window. And in a flurry of Spanish, he placed an order. Oh, but there were questions, and thank god David had his translator. “Do you want onions?” No, no, David did not want onions. “Sin cebolla.” Phew, that was a close one. “Good thing I was here to speak Spanish for you!” he beamed.
The dude was a total tool. We decided we would have liked him if he had taken David’s order and just totally fucked it up. Like ordered him tongue, or some shit. “You’d like a chicken burrito? Okay,” turning to the window, “Uno burrito con lengua, por favor. Lengua adicional.” We giggled our asses off thinking about it all the way home. David would surely eat his lengua burrito and not even know the difference. The Translator—our version of the translator anyway—would then turn to David throughout the rest of the day and randomly stick his tongue out and go, “LALALALALAAAAAAA!” After a few times, David would begin to find it rather unsettling. “Why do you keep doing that with your tongue?” he’d surely ask. Our stupid imaginary joke distracted us from our hangovers for at least an hour.
I’ve actually never ordered any other taco from Taco Azteca other than carne asada and carnitas. The latter of which is all I order now. But I’m interested in trying the lengua, the buche, and the cabeza. Especially the tongue, which I just had in Napa the night after the French Laundry.
We wanted to eat at Ad Hoc on our second night to make it a total Keller weekend, but all of his restaurants were closed on Sunday for his annual employee Holiday party. “Damn you Keller!” Tania said, shaking her fist in the air. But it was okay because there is another excellent restaurant in Yountville called Bistro Jeanty http://www.bistrojeanty.com/. We ate there the year before with Tom, Denise, and the Nieratkos. There was a lot of drinking on that first visit, so I suggested we try it again. Seeing as I basically hadn’t even been there before.
Sometimes I want something normal, and sometimes I want the weirdest shit on the menu. The night we went to Bistro Jeanty I wanted the weird. The “Langue D’Agneau” (warm lamb tongue and potato salad), for instance, sounded good. “How’s the lamb tongue salad?” I asked our waiter. LALALALALAAAAA!
They said it was tongue. It kind of looks like ball sack, though, huh?
“Uh, it’s good,” he said hesitantly. “It has kind of a hotdog consistency, which some people really like.” He wasn’t really selling me on it. He pointed at some other choices that he was more enthusiastic about. The pork belly also sounded good. But I didn’t really like our waiter that much, so I ordered the lamb tongue because I could tell he didn’t really like it. Showed him. (You ever do that?) Tania ordered the “Crème de Tomate en Croute.” Tomato soup in a puff pastry is one of their signature items. We ended up both winning. The tomato soup was tasty and silky, and the lamb tongue was actually pretty good, albeit a little unusual. The tongue was indeed the consistency of hotdog, but it kind of tasted a little gamey and a little iron-y. Do lambs lick their buttholes? I assume they do. They probably lick each other’s buttholes too. Mmmm, lamb tongue. LALALAAA! Oh and the German-style potato salad the sliced tongue came on was delicious. I ate the whole thing.
The puff pastry is gone. It looked like a space ship. What if you could eat aliens? Everyone is all scared of aliens. Fuck those dudes. Let's eat 'em. "ET Burgers!"
While we were enjoying our appetizers, we were forced to watch the table across from us against the wall. It contained three, loud, drunk ladies who were obviously having a “ladies night out.” They were done eating when we arrived, but they lingered for almost our entire meal. My guess was that they spent the day wine tasting, and ended up in Yountville for dinner. One of the ladies, the frailest of the three, was very drunk. She obviously wasn’t using a spit cup at the wineries. The other two convinced her to drink coffee, but it was too late. She was practically falling out of her chair. At one point I looked up from my plate and found her staring at me. Although I don’t think she was looking at me because there was no one home in her eyes. Lights out. I stared back. She suddenly caught my gaze and flicker of recognition caused her to retreat back to the safety of her cell phone where, aside from the occasional drunken outburst, she spent the rest of the evening. She provided the entertainment to our meal.
"Derrrrr, Uhm tefting my ex bouey fend. THUTUP!"
For our mains, I got the cassoulet again. Besides being totally awesome, it’s one of those dishes you almost have to order if it’s on a menu. Which it rarely is. Steak frites? I love it, but I can also make that at home. I don’t often get a chance to savor a cassoulet. Especially a proper one. The last time I had it was when Caleb brought a can of it back from France. Their house in France is in the region where the dish reputedly originated. Apparently there’s a bit of a debate on the subject? Anyway, I fell in love with it and I order it every time I see it. Which has been exactly twice. Both times were at Bistro Jeanty. Duck confit, sausage, bacon, beans, oh man, it’s heaven. As a bonus, it makes me fart like crazy. It’s so rich, that I boxed up my leftovers, brought it back to LA where it was enough to make two lunches. More farting.
Bowl of farts.
Tomatoes are one of Tania’s favorite things in the world, but before tomatoes, before anything else, Tania’s favorite food is cheese. So naturally she ordered the quiche. The quiche turned out to be nothing more than a giant plate of melted cheese. I think there was a salad in there somewhere, and there might have been some ham and leeks in the quiche, but mostly it was cheese. Tania was all smiles.
This is what Tania wanted to marry. A plate of cheese. But apparently that would have destroyed families. Her ONLY choice was a MAN! So she got stuck with me. Domage fromage.
If you ever plan a trip to Napa, and you can’t get into the French Laundry, or one of His other restaurants, try Bistro Jeanty. It’s a casual, cozy little place with excellent French food. And drunk old ladies. LALALALALAA!