TIJUANA RESTAURANT REVIEW: Tacos Kokopelli
Tacos in Tijuana are, of late, becoming quite popular with travel shows. But not all taco carts are cut from the same cloth. Tacos Kokopelli is at the forefront of a burgeoning new format of gourmet street tacos in Tijuana. Located at the edge of Colonia Cacho on the corner of Blvd. Aguacalientes and Melchor Ocampo, Tacos Kokopelli currently has a lot of buzz with TJ foodies.
The signature ceviche dish at Tacos Kokopelli is called the “Black Harder” which is made with lenguado (sole or flounder) “cooked” in lime juice and squid ink (for color). You rarely see ceviche with large pieces of fresh lenguado. It is the soft texture of the lenguado that makes this dish a standout.
Next I decided to try several different tacos to see the range that this small street stand can muster. The grill is manned by a grillmaster in a chef’s jacket with his assistants assembling the tacos and prepping the fresh ingredients. At any given time on the grill you will see portobello mushrooms and large Anaheim chilies. You can order your taco so that the ingredients are inside the Anaheim chile…or without the chile. The Anaheim version is 20 pesos extra. All orders come with Cucumber flavored “agua” which is slightly sweet and refreshing. The condiments are inventive and diverse: purple onions pickled in habanero, a yellow habanero sauce that is the hottest of the bunch, a pineapple habanero mix, roasted peppers with toasted peanuts in oil and a salsa called “El Robo de Dante” which has a toasty serrano flavor that is very mild.
I started with the “Kraken” taco; grilled octopus in a pesto made with cilantro and various peppers to which I added the El Robo de Dante sauce. The octupus had an appealing mesquite flavor with an earthy poblano touch.
Next was the Portobello taco. The portobello mushroom is marinated in oil, cooked on the grill, then slow cooked in a small pot on the grill. I used the habanero sauce which, predictably – and desirably — was extremely spicy. The mushrooms were moist and delicious in a bed of jack cheese and a couple slices of avocado.
Having to share tacos with my trusty assistant, I ordered two more tacos that were also outstanding. The “gringos en vacaciones” — a taco with good sized shrimp cooked in a red chile adobo – requires no other salsa. It is perfect as is.
Lastly, I chose the Taco Pibil inside an Anaheim chile. It was the dish of the day. The taco comes with smoked marlin that was cooked in orange juice and Yucatan style seasoning. The marlin was the best I had tried in the hundreds of marlin tacos I have consumed over the years. The smoked marlin, toasted anaheim chile, jack cheese and a slight orange flavor made this unique and will be one of the many reasons why I will return to this taco stand many times.
Tacos at this establishment are only 20 pesos a piece and if you prefer not to drink the agua de pepino, you can order a soda for 10 pesos. It is an excellent value.
- Tacos Kokopelli Stand
- Calle Melchor Ocampo by Bl. Agua Caliente
- Tijuana, B.C
Tacos Kokopelli also has a restaurant
- Tacos Kokopelli Restaurant
- Calle Brasil, 9917
- Colonia Cacho
- Tijuana, B.C.
— El Fabio