Tacos El Poblano: How A Band of Taqueros From Izucar de Matamoros, Puebla Changed Baja California

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
Bill Esparza
Tacos El Poblano, Tijuana

Baja California is one of the great surf-and-turf states of northern Mexico, renowned for its unique carne asada; in Mexicali, there's more of a Sonoran influence, and in Tijuana where an original style with a southern touch has spread down the peninsula all the way to Cabo, and has now moved north of the border all the way to LA.  

In the late '50's, Don Guadalupe Zarate began to make carne asada tacos in corn tortillas--the preferred choice of Puebla--using only skilled taqueros from the state of Puebla preparing a blend of thin, local cuts of beef that were chopped into small rectangular bits. In 1968, this street cart operation moved into a permanent spot at Las Ahumaderas, a once popular row of taco stands that has seen better days. In 1974, Don Reynaldo and Don Sebastian Rodriguez opened there formal taqueria in Otay Mesa, where a name was finally given to honor the taqueros that had forged this delicious carne asada tradition: El Poblano.    

Bill Esparza
Carne asada taco, El Poblano, Tijuana

Now, I know what you're saying--"but there's no carne asada in Puebla, is there?" No there isn't, but there is one of the best al pastor practices in Mexico, and that came with the Poblanos, called by its regional name in Baja: adobada. Besides the adobada, the only real thing that's Pueblan about these carne asada tacos is the highly-skilled taqueros themselves. They mostly come from the city of Izucar de Matamoros, Puebla, and the surrounding communities; professional taqueros that have been lured to Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chula Vista, and all the way up to the streets of South Los Angeles by sheer demand for their tasty craft. 

Bill Esparza
El Poblano, Tijuana

The tacos are unmistakable--a savory blend of chopped beef cooked on mesquite is served on a corn tortilla, then topped with onions, cilantro, a tomato based salsa, and a spread of creamy guacamole that's practically pure avocado spooned on by a poblano in rapid fire fashion. The final touch is a conical wrapped taco held together by a small square of butcher paper--this is a dead giveaway that you've come across Tijuana-style carne asada, the Pueblan way. 

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