Catch a Wave to Taco Surf for Big Mexican Fare

So let me get this straight: A restaurant that serves plates filled to the brim with authentic Mexican food at an average cost of $5 per entree, and the place is less than block from the beach? I'm there.

The prices and location are what first lures most people to Taco Surf on Main Street in Seal Beach, but the food is what keeps them coming back for more.

"Nothing we serve comes out of a can," manager Debbie Garren said, adding that the food is prepared by two women from Guadalajara who use their traditional family recipes.

This place never bought into the nouvelle cuisine craze; the portion sizes are big, big, big. The pillow-size burritos have the rice and beans rolled up inside the flour tortilla and not served on the side. The Alamo is a particular favorite, since it allows diners to choose two fillings from a menu of shredded beef, ground beef, chicken, pork or fish.

And the chicken tostada--served in a fried flour tortilla basket--is so large it practically spills off the plate. It is filled with the requisite lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers and cheese, a fair amount of chicken and lots of guacamole and sour cream. The guacamole is made from real avocados and is chunky, not watery.

Baskets and bowls of complimentary hot homemade tortilla chips and salsa are constantly refilled. Beer and wine is available, but no mixed drinks.

There is only one potential downside to Taco Surf: the absence of a no-smoking section. The air never fills with smoke to the point of a bingo hall, but diners should be aware that there is no refuge.

The restaurant is small, with about 15 tables and eight counter stools. The crowd out front begins to build about 4:30 p.m. or so, as peak tanning hours wane. To avoid the 20- to 45-minute waits, come for lunch or on Sunday afternoons. Or phone ahead and order your meal to go.

Taco Surf, 115 Main St., Seal Beach. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday till 10 p.m. (213) 594-0600.

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