Back in August of 2016, I wrote one of my first taco reviews and it was on Bakersfield tacos (link here). I cannot believe that I am coming up on my 5 year anniversary of the creation of my taco website. I looked back at my Bakersfield post and boy, was I a newb at describing tacos! At that time, I did not have a taco ranking system and I only took one photo of just one of the three tacos I ordered. Tisk tisk! However, I did follow through with my blog notes to order a short rib taco and a margarita for my follow up review of Bakersfield.
On a sunny and humid Wednesday afternoon, I went on a bike ride to the gym. I cycled a few more miles afterwards to check out the Pittsburgh Art’s Festival. It was hard to see the artwork at first with the sweat rolling down my forehead, but I couldn’t pass up admiring some local art. After major gawking, I continued down the bike line in the Cultural District until I reached Bakersfield.
After I locked up my bicycle, I went inside Bakersfield to wash my hands and face in the bathroom. After cooling down, I parked myself at the bar. It was SO good to be back at the bar. The bartenders here are enthusiastic, excellent, and knowledgeable which made me remember how much I missed this experience. I helped myself to a nice glass of water and as a promise to myself, a watermelon margarita. As for tacos, I ordered the top three tacos the bartender recommended which were the Huitlacoche, Baja Shrimp, and Short Rib tacos.
I forgot how delicious the corn shells are at Bakersfield. And despite the tiny 4.5 inch shell, the tacos are fully loaded. This is where little tacos take over the world. Little, but mighty in flavor. Each taco had toppings arranged with care and presented in an elegant fashion.
The first taco I went 100 percent in on was the Huitlacoche. Now, several of the bartenders and I could not figure out how in the world to pronounce Huitlacoche. After many tries, we heard it was pronounced weet-la-COH-cheh. I thought this taco was just a fancy taco with corn and peppers. I had no idea until writing this post that Huitlacoche is a corn fungus, aka corn smut, Mexican truffle, corn truffle. It is a gray-black mushroom that grows on ears of corn around the kernels in puffy, gray clouds. Actually looks like river rock. This fungus is a delicacy in Mexican cuisine. It has an earthy mushroom-like flavor with sweetness stemming from the corn cobs on which the fungus grows.
So without further wait, let’s taco ’bout the corn fungus taco! The baby corn kernels were mixed in the corn truffle and spicy roasted poblano peppers, creating a sweet heat. The onions were subtle and the cotija cheese and cilantro made the perfect topping pair. Eating this taco is the equivalent experience to sitting in a hot tub on a snow fall night. I thoroughly enjoyed this taco and rank it a solid 4 out of 5 on my scale.
My second favorite taco, but equally ranked at a 4 out of 5 was the short rib taco. The braised short rib was juicy and tender. The meat would make an excellent filling in a quesadilla. The short rib was accompanied with queso fresco, crema, pickled white onion, radish, and cilantro. The radish definitely added a nice crunch to the tender meat. I would have preferred the white onion to not be pickled and could have gone for some red cabbage to amplify the radish crunch.
My third favorite taco was the Baja crispy shrimp taco with chipotle lime crema, gauc, red cabbage, pickled fresno, and chive. While typing this taco description, I had to look up the definition of fresno. Fresno is a type of chili pepper that packs a little more heat than a jalapeno pepper. Its name comes from the city it was first cultivated in- Fresno, California. Fresno has a smokier and fruiter taste than a jalapeno pepper. I picked up on this while eating this taco as well as some tang. So much shrimp on such a little taco. I think all the ingredients need to mesh a little bit better, but so far, it is my favorite shrimp taco in the Burgh and it ranks a 3 out of 5 on my scale.
I ended up ordering a fourth taco last minute because I was still hungry after all the bicycling. I went with the al pastor taco. I think my second margarita of the evening (the pineapple marg) influenced my decision to pick the al pastor taco as my final taco. The chile marinated pork came with pineapple, pickled white onion, and cilantro. Despite being a very messy and runny taco, the pork itself was pretty dry. The marinade was overly tangy and the pineapple was not super fresh. I was not impressed with this taco and it comes in at a 2 out of 5.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the corn truffle, short rib, and Baja shrimp tacos here at Bakersfield. These three tacos stand out with their unique flare and interesting ingredients. You can’t go wrong with any of their margaritas here either. The watermelon margarita tasted like a Jolly Rancher and paired well with all the tacos I had until the very last sip. I can’t wait to return to the bar at Bakersfield with its awesome atmosphere and delicious dishes.
Price: $4 per taco, except the Portobello taco is $3.