The first time I ever heard about Cacao Mexicatessen was from reading an article somewhere about their duck carnitas tacos. Those tacos sounded so delicious that I filed the name of the restaurant in the back of my mind as a place to hit up when I got a chance. A year later, I finally got a taste of those Duck Carnitas Tacos (duck confit, avocado, vinegar, onion, radishes and chile oil) at the 2010 East LA Meets Napa Event and in the process also sampled their Wild Boar Chorizo Verde Taco (ground boar, Mexican spices, avocado and pico de gallo) as well. Wow! They were absolutely delicious and I loved the thickness of the handmade tortillas. I can’t believe I waited a year to try their food.
A month later, I finally made a trip Cacao Mexicatessen’s actual restaurant in Eagle Rock and in fact, I went there 3 times within a month and a half. That’s pretty unusual for me because generally, it’ll take me months before I re-visit a restaurant, let alone weeks. Walking into Cacao, I could see it really was also a working deli. Available for purchase were prepared foods, cheeses, tortillas and various other Mexican foods.
Ordering at Cacao means perusing a menu near the counter before placing your order. Since I already tried the duck carnitas and wild boar tacos, I opted to order 3 other tacos from their menu along with a couple of other items. One of those items was a Cucumber Agua Fresca. It was just a tad sweet, but still very refreshing and I loved the added touch of the fresh cucumber slices added to the drink.
The other item was their Mexican Corn on the Cob (grilled white corn, queso cotija, lime aioli and powdered chili). The sweetness of the corn and the tart, spicy, salty flavors of the condiments really made this corn sing on my palate. If you’re planning on eating the whole corn, I’d limit myself to just one or two tacos because it’s quite filling.
Now let’s talk tacos. The three I ordered all came on one plate. I took a bite out of the Tocino en Chocolatado Taco first. Made with house cured bacon, salsa de cacao, creme, bean puree and Serrano chilies, I thought these ingredients made this a more unique taco. The salsa de cacao had a slight bitter and sweet taste to it which went well with a little bit of heat from the Serrano chilies, but then the creme did a good job of softening all the flavors together.
Second to receive my undivided attention was the Chicarron de Pato (fried duck skin, cabbage, radish, onion, cilantro and salsa verde). The funny thing about this taco is that if I hadn’t known ahead of time, I may not necessarily have identified the skin as fried duck skin. The skin didn’t taste “ducky” per se, but regardless, crunchy skin, crunchy cabbage, radish and everything else made for a delicious taco.
Third but not least was the Venison a la Yucateca (shredded venison, achiote, habanero, red onion and cilantro) The ingredients were quite complimentary to the venison with the achiote providing a hint of earthiness, the habanero with a bit of heat, the cilantro adding some pepperiness and finally, the red onion with just a hint of sweetness.