From México with love
Taqueria Hecho en Mexico
Taqueria Hecho en Mexico6036 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95824
Do you have that friend who does everything well? She’s a great cook who throws perfect dinner parties, an involved mom with adorable kids and a glamorous career woman? Taqueria Hecho en Mexico is kind of like that friend, but with carnitas, tortas and ceviche.
Hecho is part of a small chain, all located in Central Valley cities, and it has the efficiency of a chain, but with homey touches. It has handmade corn tortillas for some dishes, and enthusiastic handwritten signs touting the daily specials and new additions. ("We now have champurrado!—its thick, cinnamon-laced version is perfect on a cold day.)
The menu is large and encompasses everything from seafood (entrée plates both cooked and raw), breakfast, soups and the usual tacos, tortas and enchiladas, as well as some unique specials.
On one visit, Tacos de Seso ($1.99) are on order and even though the chalky, wobbly texture of beef brains is challenging to some, those who grew up eating them will likely be happy to encounter this somewhat rare dish.
Even rarer than brains on local menus is the Chamorro de Puerco, or pork shank plate ($12.99). The dramatic, bone-in presentation is equaled by the surprising, tart-tang of the red sauce. Flake some tender flesh off the bone, scoop up some sauce and make a taco with a rustic corn tortilla for one of the best dishes at any Mexican restaurant in Sacramento.
Hecho has a way with pork; its very crispy carnitas are second only to those available by-the-pound at La Esperanza. The carnitas can be had in a soft taco ($1.99), which comes heaped on a store-bought tortilla, or in a huge crispy taco, which comes encased in a blistered fresh-made corn tortilla dusted with Parmesan and oozing with melted white cheese ($2.50). Any meat or seafood is good in the crispy tacos, but carnitas is the best. Another good choice is the plump and soft Carnitas Enchiladas ($9.99 a plate with two enchiladas, rice and beans).
Not down with swine? The Shrimp Ceviche ($5.99) is composed of whole pink shrimp rather than chopped up bits and has a light sweetness. The shrimp is mixed with diced cucumbers and onions that both have a pickled tartness.
A few soups are on offer, including Menudo and Birria de Chivo (goat) on weekends. The Pozole ($9.99) is a light and clean-tasting version with a strong flavor of bay leaf.
I’m surprised to be asked if I want mayo on the Torta Milanesa ($7.99), but it doesn’t mean that they have a heavy hand with it. The condiment mix on the torta is excellent, with moisture provided mostly by refried beans and guacamole rather than mayo. The only thing lacking is a spicy salsa, which brings me to the weak point of this taqueria.
Hecho isn’t perfect. The weakness is its salsas, both at the salsa bar and on the tacos and other dishes. All the salsas are watery and banal, with not much detectable heat. The chips are best described as “movie theater nacho rounds” and lack heft and oil. The salsa bar has fun extras such as marinated nopales, sautéed onions and a potato, cauliflower and jalapeno mixture, so you can load your chips up with those, or you can skip it entirely and just order more food, much of which will be perfect—or close. Ω