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La Fiesta Taqueria
7951 Greenback Lane
Citrus Heights, CA
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11/17/02

I must be honest with you, reader-eaters. In the interest of full disclosure, you must know that I love the Taqueria La Fiesta, and I have for some time now. This review is based not on a single visit, but on a lengthy patronage. In fact, this taqueria currently occupies the coveted position of my favorite taqueria of all time. Yes folks, that includes the Mission district, and it would include Mexico, except that Mexican taquerias cannot really be compared to California taquerias. It's apples and oranges, or perhaps jalapenos y poblanos.

Anyway, here's the evidence:

Coctel!Exhibit A) The coctel de camarones (see photo). It is the perfect lunch for three reasons: super tasty and special-feeling (shrimp, after all!), protein-based so you are actually able to stay awake after you eat it, and really rather good for you. But the greatest of these is the super tasty part. Loaded with nice fat shrimp in a light tomato water, which, if it doesn't sound appetizing, is because you've never had it. Generously topped with diced avocado. Highly customizable: for a cocktail sauce effect, add ketchup and el tapatio hot sauce. Or, like me, add one of the freshly made salsas from the salsa bar. A squeeze of lime juice and you are all set. It's muy autentico, nearly identical to what you might have in a café in, say, Manzanillo, except I've never gotten sick from the La Fiesta version. You can also get the coctel with pulpo (octopus for you non spanglish speakers), which is a favorite of my dad's (the cephalopod thing kind of runs in the family). A bargain at 7 bucks.

Exhibit B) The chili verde. The litmus test of taquerias. There are many pitfalls, and this one doesn't fall into any of them. Tangy from the tomatillos, savory from the well-seasoned pork, and not too fatty. My brother, who has seen his share of chile verdes, rates this one very highly, as do I.

Exhibit C) It's constantly busy. I've been there a lot. Always busy. Always! The place buzzes industriously, and everyone seems to be in a good mood. Many families turn out in full, but you've also got groups of younger people and suited businessmen. I am very pleased to see the Latino population of Citrus Heights present and accounted for. The soccer-jersey clad staff add to the atmosphere: they personify the word "hustle," bringing out orders, whisking away empty plates, and circulating among the tables, asking, " How is everything?" (Has that ever happened at a Mission district taqueria?). Given its location in a shopping center not generally considered a dining destination, the amount of traffic is a testimonial.

Dig in.Exhibit D) The salsa bar. All the classics are represented: salsa verde, salsa cruda (that's the chunky one with chopped up fresh tomatoes, onions, chilies, and cilantro), salsa that looks so hot that I've never tried it (all red, lots of seeds) and my fave, the one made with roasted chilies. A bit smoky, it has perhaps passed through a blender at some point. Also, many pickled veg to choose from, such as onions, carrots and jalapenos. My dad consumes these with great relish.

Exhibit E) It's super clean. Now, mind you, I am not obsessed with cleanliness. In fact, at my former favorite taqueria of all-time (name withheld), I once witnessed an intrepid roach exit a basket of chips and crawl up a friend's arm, and I still patronized the place after that. However, I certainly don't have anything against a sanitary establishment, and it's a nice change to go to a taqueria and not feel that
stickiness. You know what I mean: the stickiness on the floor, the table, the forks.

Exhibit F) Carrot juice, extracted from live carrots right before your eyes. My dad often gets it, which I encourage, since a glass of this magic potion ensures good health and long life.

If you go in November or December, and ask politely, you may be presented with a free calendar featuring epic artwork, as I was during my last visit. It went straight up on the wall, all the better to schedule the next coctel de camarones fiesta.

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Contact Magistrate Louise at lasqueeze777@yahoo.com

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