Jonathan Gold: A soulful cauliflower taco in a league of its own
There are many reasons to visit Colonia Taco Lounge out in La Puente. There is a nice selection of beers on tap for the eastern part of the county, including Cucapa from Mexicali and the elusive 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head. The chile-zapped micheladas are good, and the capirinhas are made as carefully as the margaritas.
The owner is Eastside taco master Ricardo Diaz, whom you may know from Cooks Tortas, Guisados or his Whittier restaurant Bizarra Capital. As you might expect, the tacos of braised lamb barbacoa; stewed pork belly with jalapeno oil; seared queso fresco with bacon; spicy scrambled eggs with herbs; and carnitas with pumpkin are considerable. The “nachostada,” a fried tortilla heaped with melted cheese, chorizo sausage and juicy tomato salsa, would be enough to make the reputation of any food truck in town.
But we are here to praise the tacos made with florets of fried cauliflower that somehow manage to taste even better than the tacos made with Oaxacan estofado -- crunchy, soft and then crunchy again; the sulfurous funkiness of the vegetable mellowed, made soulful, by the sharpness of the capers in the salsa and the merest touch of cream. You always hear about the great vegetable tacos you can find in central Mexico, but the ones you find here are rarely in this league.
To Westsiders, La Puente seems like the ends of the earth, but Colonia is a few yards from the 605 near the 10, just five minutes past San Gabriel. 13030 E. Valley Blvd, La Puente, (626) 363-4691.
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