Shrimp taco—hold the burger
Taco Fresco Burgers & Fries
Taco Fresco Burgers & Fries8168 Florin Rd.
Sacramento, CA 95828
Taco Fresco Burgers & Fries (check that multicultural name!) first came on my radar when it was featured in a July post by delicious Instagrammer @southsacramento. Here was a puffy masa shell stuffed with plump, pink shrimp, bathed in the natural light that social media influencers crave. I made a mental note to make a visit.
I panicked a bit once I saw the limited hours—Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.—but I found a free Saturday right before Christmas. I settled in for my long winter’s nap because the food took so darned long to arrive, for good reason though: The place was completely packed, not a spare seat. At least half of the customers had ordered tacos, the tortillas of which are made from fresh masa, adding minutes onto each order.
The wait gave me plenty of time to contemplate the interior, which has natural light in abundance and not much else. It’s a simple rectangle, glassed on three sides with the open grill in the back behind the cash register. You get a clear view of the hustling, sweating crew, whirling and dodging and frying with exemplary efficiency. The vibe is spare edging into stark and does not invite a lingering lunch.
But the tacos ($1.95) are so tasty you won’t need to linger. It’s really all about the made-to-order, steaming tortillas. Of the standard assortment of available meats, the pork-forward, lightly tangy chile verde and the juicy, dark-meat chicken are the standouts. Each taco comes with a light smattering of cilantro and onion, all accompanied by the same tart, mild salsa.
The masa for the fish and shrimp tacos ($2.75) takes a dip in the fryer until puffed fat and larded with a chipotle mayo sauce. They’re rightfully popular and in evidence on almost every table.
Not to be seen anywhere was a burger, despite the name of the joint, which confused me until I ordered one ($4.50) on my third visit and realized that they are served on a bolillo. I had been mistaking them for tortas on multiple tables. I like a simple burger, but there’s simple and then there’s boring, and the thin slab of dry gray meat topped with unmelted American came garnished only with shredded iceberg and orange tomato. It cried out for onion, pickles, sauce or heck, just go with the torta vibe and add a shmear of beans or some salsa.
That same crisp-grilled bolillo was much better when it encased the ultra-crispy steak in the milanesa torta ($7.99). I’ve never had crunch like this on milanesa. It resembled panko in texture and was a pleasing counterpoint to the cheap, gummy hot dog and ham.
For some reason, the tortillas for the mulitas ($2.75) were packaged ones rather than fresh, and the chile verde was overpowered by a blanket of bland cheese. Order the chile verde taco instead.
I’ll confess a made a fourth visit because I was craving the shrimp taco again. Let’s say I was researching the consistency, and now I can say with confidence that they are the bomb.