Tacos Baja Ensenada ~ 5385 Whittier Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022 ~ (323) 887-1980
If you looooove tacos, you’ve surely hit this small spot on Whittier Blvd. or have been planning to. Tacos Baja Ensenada has a well-deserved rep on our city’s streets for the sublime fish and shrimp tacos that they sling. True to the word, these friendly guys know seafood and surely have a way with tacos. Baja Ensenada started when owner Martin showed his skills making free fish tacos for the neighborhood. It wasn’t long before entire blocks clamored for him to open up his own shop. That same love is evident in everything this place serves, from our beloved tacos to the soups, cocktails, and plentiful other available options.
A small buffet of fresh abalone, octopus, wee clams and other bivalves sits daily awaiting the cocktail treatment, next to a smattering of goodies like limon, radish and salt-dusted deep-fried peppers. The tacos are large and covered in the works, a hot mess of sour cream and hot sauce, plus lettuce, onion, cilantro and cabbage. Four tacos each easily filled even the biggest bellies at our table.
Showing up conveniently on Wednesdays (or Wed-senadas as we like to call them) finds you getting a deep discount: fish tacos for 99 cents, shrimp tacos for $1.50, when usually they come at $2.50 each. The mostly neighborhood crowd is still very sparse at dinner despite the slashed prices, ensuring seats for you and your motley crue (there are no umlauts on this keyboard). Lunch is another story, however, with crowds willingly waiting a while to get theirs’.
The fish comes fried in significant long strips, with a thickish, but light shell of batter that barely seems to touch the meat. It really just floats there, waiting to melt in your mouth, followed by the pescado, which does the same. The fish tacos are so light and fluffy, they are barely even noticeable in taste, just subtle hints of freshness reaching out through that soft crunch. The addition of crema infiltrates the fish, providing extra substance and gooey flavor. Baja Ensenada gets HUGE points for their homemade, fat, yet soft tortillas, which put the tacos into the A+ category.
Even better are the shrimp tacos, which are gathered individually in a gang of fried critters that pop with every chew. The shrimp seem to take on extra flavor than most shrimp tacos, exploding with intricate tastes as each meets its fate under a blanket of sauce, shell, and secrets. I’m not sure what the geniuses at Baja Ensenada do to them, but it works. The batter again is super-light and airy, making everything go down as if the tacos are made of the same substance as the clouds. They are mouth-wateringly delicious, and the freshness of everything is discernible with each bite. $5 makes for a fantastic, unforgettable feast.
We strayed from Pacific waters just a second for a very juicy, buttery shredded chicken taco and some okay asada action. TACO counsel G. Lemmons Esq. really seemed to enjoy sippin’ on his horchata. Everything on the menu is solid, but skip those hard meats for the shrimp and fish specialties. They will surely bring you back to Tacos Baja Ensenada, no matter the day of week.