On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I met up with two coworkers, Melissa and Robert, for some late lunch. Robert, Melissa, and I have met up quite frequently over the past few months for lunches and walks and I always look forward to it. For this meet up, Robert suggested the California Taco Shop and I was obviously okay with that choice.
California Taco Shop is located at 890 Butler St in Etna. After lunch, I had plans to attend a Labor Day Picnic in New Kensington so this was a convenient stop for me right off Route 28. The shop does not have a big store front sign yet so it can easily be missed. Robert made sure to text me as soon as I zoomed right passed it.
After a phone call to Melissa, I finally found the two of them outside of the restaurant. Inside, there were a few tables to the left and a counter to order on the right. This is a good place for a small group of people or to just order takeout. We took our time at the counter looking over many options including combination platters, quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, and tacos. Taco options here included ground beef, shredded chicken, veggie, fish, al pastor, pollo asado, carnitas, chorizo, carne asada, and shrimp. I ordered the pollo asado and al pastor tacos. Melissa ordered the shredded chicken taco. Robert branched off from the tacos and ordered the grilled chicken burrito.
While waiting for our lunch, we split some chips and guacamole. The guac was vibrant and fresh and was served with flaky homemade chips. A very simple, yet addictive appetizer. So far we were very impressed.
If I see pollo asado taco on a menu, 80% of the time I will order that taco. I love a good chicken marinated with citrus and spice. This taco was very messy and all those flavors were definitely there, but dripping out of the taco at a constant rate into the homemade corn shell. The chicken was a little salty, but the pico and sour cream balanced out some of that salt. I would give this taco a 3, close to 4, out of 5 as it was definitely worth eating this taco despite the salt.
Next, I tried the al pastor taco. This taco had such great flavor stemming from the meat, but it was a little too fatty for me. You know you have good flavor though when a taco is covered in chopped onions and cilantro, but all you can taste is the combination of the fatty crispy meat, toppings, and homemade corn shell in unison. Overall, I would give the al pastor a 2 out of 5 because of the fatty cut.
As for my coworkers, Melissa thoroughly enjoyed her shredded chicken taco with lettuce, cheese, and tomato. Robert was quite happy with his burrito and actually said it is the BEST burrito he has ever had! He said it was because of the chicken. It had that grilled and charred flavor and the burrito was stuffed full. He loved the homemade salsa roja and all the diced and sliced up toppings. Service was fast and the burrito was well prepared.
I usually fail to pay attention to the drink portion on menus; I read somewhere after the visit that their horchata is amazing. Based on my first experience at California Taco Shop, I should have known that this place would have horchata. Get ready to see me cruising down 28 and zipping on horchata with some shades and a smile on sometime soon.
Price: $3.50 per taco, except the shrimp $3.75, and ground beef or shredded chicken hard shell tacos $2.25