A “treasure” by denotation is something valuable that is hidden. You can drive through Duarte on Huntington Drive one hundred times and never notice Tacos Ensenada. I did.
It sits by a laundromat in an unfortunately designed strip mall. Blocked from view by curbside ficus trees, if you blink you’ll miss it. Fortunately, I am blessed with friends who introduced me to this gem, and if you’ll be so kind, allow me to do the same for you. The cost of rent is reflected in the food we eat in a variety of ways. A great location will demand a high food price for quality, or a compromise to keep things affordable. Greatness is often found when low rent allows the expense of quality while keeping the price affordable. I’ll skip on the ambience for better food.
The Taco Tuesday concept is not unique, but here the surf is separated from the turf. On Thursday, all tacos are $1, except for the fish. On Tuesday, it’s all about the fish. The line regularly stretches out the door and further for the $1 fish tacos. Don’t let this discourage you, because inside, it’s all hands on deck behind the counter. The crew is organized and efficient in keeping the line moving.
The battered fish is tender and expertly cooked with a pleasant crunch when you bite into it. They garnish the tacos with the requisite cabbage, chopped tomato and crema. The sweetness of fresh corn tortillas completes the package. The two-taco plate comes with its own refried beans, rice, and a drink. I don’t want to know the caloric content of the beans. Suffice to say they are smooth in a way that implies a high fat content. The rice is, well, rice, but the few lima beans mixed in are a nice touch.
While you wait for your order, stop by the pickled vegetable and pepper bar. A posted sign requests restraint in the helping size. It’s difficult, because everything is fresh and crisp. The roasted jalapeños are mild (if you avoid the seeds). Take your pickled delights and sit down. Look around and you will observe a wonderful mosaic of ethnicities and income levels among your fellow patrons. Many boundaries are crossed at the tables in this unassuming little place.
My patient wife and I recently enjoyed an afternoon lunch date here. One fish taco plate, three more fish tacos, an additional side of beans and a large jamaica totaled $12.33, including tax. We ended up with leftovers. They serve more than fish tacos. The shrimp cocktail and ceviche tostada seem very popular. I wouldn’t know; I can’t get past the fish tacos. If you can, let me know.
Tacos Ensenada is located at 2171 E Huntington Dr. in Duarte, CA.