Some like it tepid
At many Mexican restaurants, you anticipate the moment when your food arrives with the warning, “Be careful. It’s a very hot plate.” Then there’s Taqueria La Michoacana, where everything from nachos to enchiladas is served just above room temperature.
A combination of 24-hour access and affordability makes this a perfect choice for hungry party animals on an all-night bender. I’d advise choosing take-out, as the policy on bussing tables appears to be, “Wait until 80 percent of the tables are covered in trash before cleaning.”
The menu includes all the usual suspects, with large screens displaying photos of available dishes. Our order arrived from the kitchen really fast. So fast, I wondered if any actual cooking had occurred in that time span. It isn’t uncommon for Mexican food to be prepared in advance, then assembled and placed in a broiler to melt the cheese and heat everything—including the plate—to piping hot perfection. But based on our experience, it’s more likely that a microwave oven was involved.
Our shared plate of carnitas nachos ($5.95) featured round—clearly store-bought—tortilla chips covered with an ample supply of tasty pork, sour cream, pico de gallo, and room-temperature nacho cheese that must have been poured straight from a can. The flavors were actually quite good. We ate the whole thing, but I can’t recall ever being served cold nachos. It was essentially a dressed-up version of 7-11 chips and cheese, sans the heat of a convenience store cheese dispenser.
Despite my best instincts, I ordered chiles rellenos ($6.99) with sauce on the side to see if the poblano peppers were fried crispy before being soaked. The result was just as mushy as most I’ve seen in town, further confirming my suspicion that the chiles are being fried and refrigerated in advance, then microwaved and dunked in sauce to hide the crime. It was extra disappointing in this instance, considering the sauce was not your average mess of tomato puree. It was smooth, spicy, full of onion and good enough to make me enjoy the dish despite the lack of fresh-fried texture.
The chicken in my wife’s enchiladas ($6.99) was very dry. The fact that the topping of shredded cheese went from melty on the plate’s outside edge, to completely unmelted in the center, only furthered my suspicions on the use of high-frequency radio waves as a heat source. On both dinner plates, the rice and beans were par for the course.
Keeping the urgent care number on speed dial, I went ahead and tried a room-temp ceviche tostada ($2.49). Despite my concerns, the fish appeared to be reasonably fresh and was combined with a great mix of veg and plenty of cilantro—actually quite good. Sadly, the cabeza sope ($1.99) I ordered was so gnarly I couldn’t finish it. Piled high with lettuce, cheese and meat, it looked promising on the plate. But the thick-fried masa was very difficult to bite through, possessing mostly the flavor of old, burned oil.
Similarly, an order of tacos al pastor ($1.25 each) tasted overcooked and a tad burned, with tiny pebbles of meat that—while still edible—didn’t have a hint of spice or pineapple.
Perhaps the most successful dish was caldo camaron ($9.49), a soup of shrimp and vegetables. The shrimp wasn’t overcooked, and the broth was spicy without being overkill. Oddly, the veggies were cut in very large pieces, with carrots and squash the length of my fingers, and several whole red potatoes. Odd, but not a deal breaker. The soup wasn’t served as hot as I’d like, but it was the warmest dish we were served.