“Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.”
— Walt Kelly
Carniceria Y Taqueria Soto
Some time ago I wrote about this great little restaurant, which I called the most hidden taqueria in the county. It is located at 175-A Placerville Drive in Placerville, right across the street from Raley’s, tucked in behind Placer Title. What is so great about this place is that it is not just a taqueria, it is part of a Mexican market (mercado) and meat market (carniceria).
If you want something for Cinco de Mayo, a fiesta, an authentic Mexican dinner or some other event, this is the place to shop. They have things for sale that I have literally never seen before.
I first talked to the owner and butcher, Beto Soto, who explained all the different cuts of meat they have displayed in the meat case. Most of the beef and pork is in thin cuts with names in Spanish, but he and his wife, Vicky, can explain them to you in perfect English.
“We have cuts of meat not found in most grocery stores,” said Soto. “Even when you do find meat cut for something like carne asada in a regular grocery store, it is often from the wrong part of the beef and it makes a big difference. For instance we use flank steak for our carne asada. Ours is like what you find in Mexico and we keep the prices low so people can try it.”
In addition to the sliced beef and pork, they also have a lot of other meats, including chicken and two kinds of tripe, along with Mexican style cheese, chopped cactus, fajita mix, their own chorizo and more.
“We also sell mesquite charcoal to grill the meat,” added Vicky, “that is the way it should be cooked. Some people even put a bit of olive oil on the coals for added flavor.”
The market portion of the store has the needed produce for Mexican dishes along with row after row of packaged and canned goods, Mexican sodas, locally baked and freshly delivered breads and pastries (pan dulce), piñatas and much more.
Over in one corner is what I came for, the taqueria where you can sit and enjoy, or take home, a large number dishes from the posted menu. I was able to sample a number of them and enjoyed every one.
We started with a taco filled with chorizo, which had lots of good flavor and very little fat. That was followed by something I had asked to taste, the chile verde, one of my favorite dishes. I picked up some in a tortilla and it was tender and delicious.
Then we had a grilled fish taco (basa). It was perfectly cooked, but needed a bit more seasoning, which I did at the table. Next came a carne asada taco, which was also tender and flavorful.
I was pretty well satisfied when Beto cooked up some camarones rancheros, shrimp in a delicious sauce with tomatoes, peppers and onions. I left none of it on my plate.
Well, I was now full, but Beto decided I should have a burrito to take with me. I had admired the marinating adobada in the meat case, so I chose a regular burrito made with that for later. It was very good, full of the tender marinated pork, rice, beans, cheese and salsa, and made a nice dinner. By the way, I slowly warmed it in the microwave on low, so it didn’t get tough.
The menu includes a number of different kinds of tacos, seafood dishes, burritos (regular and super), combination plates and tortas (Mexican sandwiches) in which you can put your choice of nine different meats. There is also quite a list of drinks including horchata, pina (pineapple) and tamarindo, bottled sodas and more.
On Saturday and Sunday there is menudo and birria (a kind of beef stew) available. You can also get my favorite dish, pozole, even though it isn’t on the menu.
They also have reasonably priced lunch specials every day and there is a coupon for a free taco in the Mountain Democrat’s July Crazy Coupon book or online at mtdemocrat.com.
Stop by and check the market and meat market out, and for sure, while you are there enjoy some great Mexican food from the taqueria to eat there or take home. And, if Beto is cooking, I understand he sings when he is cooking.
The market and meat market are open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday. The taqueria is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 9 a.m.
For more information call at 530-295-8121.