My Cheap, Cheating, Taco-Eating Heart

benito's taco shop
When you start an evening with incredible Latin food that isn’t quite cheap (Spanish tapas at Cobras and Matadors), then the only way to end the evening is with food that isn’t quite Latin, but incredibly cheap – it was another mad, (long past) midnight stop at Benito’s Taco Shop.

benito's fiery red salsa
salsa with a burn you’ll feel for days

I must admit, that even with their amazing array of choices on Benito’s menu, I have never ordered anything else but nachos. Sure, I’ve had a taste of someone else’s torta, a bite of a burrito. But I can’t seem to get away from the perfectly square, pristine white, styrofoam tray of glossy tortilla chips, weighted down by not one, but two kinds of cheese that don’t even melt, but separate into yellow and white dairy solids that stick to the chips and an oil that slips down and soaks the food-grade paper underneath from white to translucent. Doused with miniature ladle after miniature ladle of both the fire red and fresh green salsas, it’s instant gratification as I feel the burn all the way down, and a lingering satisfaction, since I’ll definitely feel that burn for a few days after.

But he challenged me to break out of my routine, and since I was drunk, since I didn’t completely have my (nit) wits about me, I conceded. And besides, there’s a bit of price gouging going on at Benito’s. The nachos aren’t $1.79 anymore – they’ve increased by their prices by a whopping $0.50 to $2.29! The nerve.

benito's tres rolled tacos
they’re really just taquitos
carne asada burrito
in a drunken stupor, a lovely mosaic

Tres rolled tacos are really a way to charge $0.50 more for three taquitos. They were huddled together in that same styrofoam tray blanketed by guacamole and a sprinkle of…two cheeses, yellow and white. *sigh* As if the styrofoam tray wasn’t a painful reminder enough of my beloved nachos. Los tacos were okay, but I’m quite certain that without that heavy dose of guacamole, they’d be dreadfully dry.

The carne asada burrito was next, cut right down the center with a little plastic knife to share. In my drunken haze, I investigated the contents, and thought, “What a lovely mosaic.” Vodka goggles. Arroz, frijoles, sarne acada (yes, that is how I pronounced it – 3 am, for fox ache!), tomatoes, and guacamole. I took a timid bite. The inside was gooey. A mushy melange of indistinguishable flavors, with only a stringy, chewy fiber of beef every now and then to confuse the fusion. And each bite, if not taken carefully enough to snap through a tortilla that was basically an opaque, flour-y version of Saran wrap, would send the squishy filling to a globby, blobular demise on a barely sanitary table top.

I ate every last focking bite.

But I am sober now, and looking back, I regret my choices. *sigh* Even with that preposterous price-hike, I will never, no not ever, cheat on my nachos again.

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  • hermz

    Yeah, forget the tortas… nachos all the way!

  • Xericx

    Hmmm…i used to eat here all the time for the rolled tacos. College thing….I ate here a few weeks ago at the one in West LA, it was not good.

    I usually get 5 rolled tacos….they were way overcooked….I like them not as crunchy.

    the rest of their food isn’t that great either. But it is open I suppose.

  • Xericx

    I will try the nachos though next time.

  • Anonymous

    Benitos is quite possible THE WORST food ever to be cooked on the planet. BUT, DAMN it tastes good when your wasted!

  • sarah

    the nachos are the best value at only $2.29. they used to be $1.79, so even with tax, they were still under $2! – but focking inflation! basically, i think i just get it so i can use the chips as a vehicle for the salsa – lol! sooooo horrible, and yet so focking incredible. dayam, i’m nasteee!

  • Xericx

    Their salsa is horrible. The ones in the little containers…red or green?

  • sarah

    loooool!

    are you just rapidly losing all respect for my taste or what, xericx?!?!

    i looooove the salsas. they are basically just garlic and pepper juice! i swear i must pour about a half cup of EACH on my nachos, along with a whole handful of those ridiculous jalapenos and carrots that taste like plastic. loool!

  • Xericx

    You’re not talking about the little 1/4 oz cups of salsa are you? The red one is super spicy…..I dunno….not my cup of tea.

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