Henri discovers Teddy Malibu’s $1 tacos— and his inner athlete
Teddy Malibu’s1002 W. Fifth St.
Chico, CA 95928
Except for Iron Chef, Henri has always been rather perplexed by athletic competitions. Particularly bewildering: Racing bicycles through the lovely French countryside when an air-conditioned bus—and a flask of Cognac—is readily available.
S’il vous plaît!
Thus it was more than a bit disconcerting the other day when Henri found himself in an unlikely contest—a veritable battle of the gourmands.
Miss Marilyn and I had been enjoying a spring stroll when we happened upon Teddy Malibu’s, where I had several times before enjoyed fine California-style Mexican food. A hand-painted sign read, “Dollar tacos every day.”
I tucked Miss Marilyn under my arm and hastened inside, where I was greeted by a charming young lady and another sign indicating the daily taco specials. Today, Friday, was steak.
I was just about to order when a couple walked in the door behind me, the bespectacled woman smiling pleasantly, though disturbingly saying something about punk rock.
“Totally sick,” responded her ruddy-complected, bearded companion. A quick check for razor blades and Swastika tattoos revealed none. Regardless, I covered Miss Marilyn’s eyes with my hands and quickly ordered two tacos.
“Two?” the woman said, laughing. “Two tacos?
The man shook his head and shrugged. “Rookie.”
“They’re a friggin’ dollar!” the woman said.
I moved my hand and clamped it down over Miss Marilyn’s ears. “Three,” I said, softly, “and some chips and salsa and an ice water.”
I turned to the salsa bar, filled a couple of cups with pineapple and tomatillo salsa and headed outside to a picnic table, setting Miss Marilyn on the bench beside me. No sooner had I sat down, though, than Mr. and Mrs. Punk Rock joined me. “Four,” the man said, sitting down and grabbing one of my chips. “Her too.”
I was just about to leave without even eating, when our orders—all three—arrived, the tacos lined up in baskets. The man poured some salsa over his. “Want some?”
I was hesitant to point out that it was in fact my salsa.
He reached across the table and poured some over my tacos.
Unexpectedly, Miss Marilyn crawled onto my lap and whimpered.
The woman looked under the table. “Oh, you have a puppy! I love animals.” She drank half her Corona in one gulp.
I nodded and took a bite, the meat, shredded cabbage and feta spilling out of the doubled-up white-corn tortillas.
“See?” the man said. “Pretty good, huh?”
They were good, very good, in fact. I was just finishing my third when the waitress returned.
“How is everything?”
“Delicious,” I said. “In fact, I’ll have another.”
“The record’s 17,” the waitress said.
The man looked at me and narrowed his eyes. “Me too.”
And so it went, for the next hour or so. He’d order, eat; I’d order, eat.
It turns out that they were a delightful pair—though I never did get their names—and having attended the previous evening’s CAMMIES awards, they filled me in on the local music scene, of which, apparently, they were a significant part.
Finally, the man wiped his mouth with a napkin. “I hate to admit it,” he said, “but I’m stuffed.” We had each eaten seven or, as he pointed out, 28 tortillas between us. “Call it a draw?”
I ended up going back every day for the next week to try them all, my favorites being the steak, Sunday’s carnitas, and Monday’s barbacoas (shredded beef). The other daily specials: Tuesday, fish (grilled or fried with cabbage and feta); Wednesday, lengua (tongue, and actually very tender); Thursday, chicken; and Saturday, al pastor. The barbacoa are served on single fried tortillas; every other day they’re served on double grilled tortillas.
In addition to the daily-special tacos (ordinarily $2-$3.75), Teddy Malibu’s also serves burritos ($5.95), quesadillas ($3.95-$5.95), chimichangas ($4.95) and a Caesar salad ($4.95, or $6.95 with chicken or shrimp), as well as fajitas, soups, and other Mexican dishes.