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15 Catt. 3: In re La Tingeria

2012 December 19
Opinion of JUSTICE CATTLEYA, in chambers.

I granted cartiorari to La Tingeria, the maker of authentic Mexican fare, including tingas, sopes, and tacos. I’ll start with my conclusion in this case: La Tingeria has become one of my favorite food trucks. It might even be my favorite. Simple, delicious food that fills you up. No unnecessary frills or gourmet gimmicks. Affordable. No, more than affordable — it’s a downright steal. And — although I’m usually the type to want to try something new over going back for seconds of something I’ve already had — I want to go back to La Tingeria again and again. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ve already been back for more.

La Tingeria

The operation of La Tingeria isn’t perfect. On my first visit, the guys in the truck — who were very pleasant and friendly — seemed to be working out mix-ups with orders. But, as our regular reader should know by now, this tribunal is not the kind to give out one star to a restaurant that serves good food but makes you wait ten minutes for a glass of water. Food is king around here. (Hmm, wait, we don’t give out any stars. And we don’t review restaurants, not the brick-and-mortar variety anyway.) The point is, when the food is as good as La Tingeria’s, I’m more than happy to deal with some service bumps, especially ones as minor as these.

Before I can get to the food, I must pause for a moment to say that La Tingeria’s offering are true “street food” — i.e., “the kind[] . . . that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011); see also In re El Chilango, 12 Catt. 2 (2012) (finding that tacos, cousin to tingas, sopes, etc., are street food).  As true street food, according to our precedents, I must affirm La Tingeria’s offerings unless I prove that there is something seriously wrong with them. See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012).  I already tipped my hat on this point: there is not.

La Tingeria’s menu follows a pretty basic rule: you pick a meat, then you pick a vehicle to contain it. When I visited, the “vehicle” options were: tinga; sope; taco; and quesadilla. And the meats: braised beef brisket or shredded chicken for the tingas; and chorizo, beef, or chicken for everything else. Each item was $2.50. La Tingeria also served elotes locos for $2 each. At other times there have been flautas, tamales, and soup on the menu.

Beef Tinga, Chorizo Quesadilla & Elote Loco

Here’s what I’ve had (so far):

Beef Tinga. The tinga was basically an open-faced tostada: fried tortilla + beef brisket + lettuce + queso fresco. The beef brisket was marinated in a caramelized onion and chipotle sauce. It was the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. The spiciness was neither instant nor overwhelming. It slowly built in the back of my mouth. The cheese and chopped lettuce tempered down the heat and added some smoothness (the cheese) and a slight crunch (the lettuce). The tostada miraculously stood up to the weight of the saucy meat, lettuce, and cheese and didn’t get soggy. Even the very last bite was met with the sound of teeth breaking into deep-fried goodness.

Chorizo Quesadilla. The quesadilla was like none I had ever seen before in a Tex-Mex restaurant. It was more like a deep-fried taco (corn flour tortilla, of course) stuffed to the brink with mozzarella and chorizo, and then topped off with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. The deep-fried casing was wonderfully doughy and crispy at the same time. And how could I not love the large chunks of greasy, flavorful ground chorizo? It was indulgence at its very best. My only complaint was that the cheese at the bottom didn’t intermingle with the meat and toppings above it, so sometimes I felt like I was eating a cheese quesadilla and sometimes a chorizo quesadilla.

Elote Loco. When I think of street food from now on, I will think of this: Steamed corn on the cob, smothered in a mayo sauce, topped off with crumbled Mexican cheese, chili powder, and a squish of lime, and then served on a skewer. The corn was sweet, the toppings were creamy and decadent. I knew that much mayo was bad for me, but I didn’t care.

Now, about portion sizes. I originally thought I’d need at least three items to make a meal. But La Tingeria’s dishes are the stick-to-your-ribs kind that keep you satisfied for hours and hours. One or two should suffice for lunch. And this is coming from a gal who once was told she ate enough for a football team.

And to answer the question in the reader’s mind, yes, La Tingeria’s eat-with-your-hands food makes for messy eating, but the devouring of good grub is worth it. Besides, that’s why we have napkins . . . and fellow Justices who aren’t afraid to tell you when you have something stuck in your teeth.

I conclude with a very important note. Soon after this opinion comes out, La Tingeria plans to stop serving sopes, quesadillas, and elotes loco. It will be unveiling a new menu — it’s keeping the tingas and tacos and adding tortas. Personally, I don’t think La Tingeria needed a menu change, but I look forward to trying whatever this sublime food truck has to offer.

AFFIRMED. It is so ordered.
One Response
  1. david pena permalink
    February 28, 2013

    Thank you for your wonderful coments la tingeria will keep doing its best to keep people happy and full

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