No. 90, Toothpick Tacos at Mexico Supermarket


Forget the Korean taco, Seabirds' avocado taco, even the Choco Taco: the most interesting taco in Orange County right now are the suckers above, which come directly to you from the late 1940s, when the crispy taco ruled America but taco fryers had yet to become popular and thus cooks fried them by closing them with toothpicks. They're literally a trip into time: when was the last time ANYONE in Southern California had taco sauce, that vinegary, sugary pretender to salsa?

The makers of these toothpick tacos are the Chinese immigrants who run Mexico Supermarket, a claustrophobic mercado in Old Town Placentia that somehow survives with a Northgate Gonzalez Supermarket nearby. It could be because they fry fish on request and stock products from Puebla and Oaxaca for their regular; it could also be their limited Chinese menu--you know, because Mexicans LOVE Chinese food.

Or it's these tacos, five of them for two bucks, freshly fried, with almost a stir-fry inside of ground beef, jalapeños, and onions within the crunchy, greasy tortilla, ordered by almost everyone who eats here, people who stand around waiting for the plate to come as if it was the announcement of their first child. I personally prefer soft tacos to crispy ones, but everyone should give these a shot, if only to marvel at what was the taco--it's like biting into an edible Encyclopedia Britannica.

Mexico Supermarket, 134 W. Santa Fe Ave., Placentia, (714) 528-6829.

The list so far:

91. Hoppin' John at Memphis at the Santora
92. Free Beans and Chips at Taqueria Zamora
93. Pig in a Blanket Waffle with Gringo Bandito at Cafe Calacas
94. "Pork Hash" at Huong Giang
95. Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla At Kogi
96. Licuados at Mil Jugos
97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
98. Takoyaki at Takoyaki Tanota
99. Fiesta Noodles at Jollibee
100. Chilaquiles Verdes Con Huevos Estrellados at La Tablita California

Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2010!
Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2011!

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Location Info


Mexico Supermarket

134 W. Santa Fe Ave., Placentia, CA

Category: General

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Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

They sort of run the gamut from pocho remembrances of somebody else's abuelita's food to relatively recent arrivals, but there isn't much that's great, and there isn't much that's horrible. This may be the worst damning with faint praise ever.

Rayann Castro
Rayann Castro

This is too awesome! This is how my grandpa taught us to make tacos as well. "Bring me more toothpicks - hurry up!" he would yell haha. Nice picks so far, Gustavo! Keep the list coming! :)

Cunning Stunts
Cunning Stunts

 Clarification : Lost of Mexican Restaruants NEAR Mexico Supermarket

Cunning Stunts
Cunning Stunts

 There were a ton of Mexican restaurants and "Taco shops" (not to be confused with Taqueria's) Are these places any good (forgot the names, but noticed a ton of them)?

Cunning Stunts
Cunning Stunts

I really like the top 100 this year. There are very unique food items this go around. We went and tried these tacos. It has the texture of egg roll filling but mexican flavors. It was really good. It forced me to go to Placentai. I have live in OC for 42 years and have never been to Placentia! The area is in is really interesting . Its like 1/2 a ghost town. A real weird vibe. A Hispanic market on just about every corner to this . You can feel this "Hispanic Vibe" but there were mostly Caucasian people walking around and in the numerous Mexican restaurants close to this market. Thank you for really unique write ups like this. It got me off my lazy ass to explore more of OC and I would not have done so if this article was not written! Last years top 100 seemed like it repeated a lot of they year before. This year seems to introduce lots of new stuff.


Upon second reading of your post, I saw that the owners are Chinese.  My family calls the toothpick tacos "Grampa's tacos" (my father in law is Filipino/Chinese, born in SF in the 1930's), and Grampa has been making those for many decades.  So is there a California/Asian origin to those?  We make those several dozen at a time for family gatherings (you know how those Filipinos can eat). 


I make a friggen great ground beef, onion, jalapeno, and garlic toothpick taco, all fried up in veg oil.  They look just like that.  The salsa is homemade, though...

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