Let’s “Taco” about Brunch….Chicas Tacos Review : Los Angeles
By Jennifer Lopez
Imagine a vast landscape of rolling hills that dip down into a valley laden with rows of grape-bearing vines. This place, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, is where the seed was planted in Chris Blanchard and his brother, Jon, that would eventually grow into a passion for farm-to-table style Mexican cuisine.
“In my youth, my brother and I traveled to Ensenada with our church to build homes and we really had a deep affinity for the food and for the culture.” That’s Chris Blanchard talking to my friends and I as we feasted on breakfast tacos and Mama’s Style dishes from Chicas Tacos brunch menu, created by James Beard Foundation nominated chef, Eduardo Ruiz.
Chicas Tacos, owned by Chris and Jon Blanchard along with their friend and business partner, Nico Rusconi, is located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. The 700-square-foot eatery sits proudly among historic landmarks, swanky lofts and towering skyscrapers. But even with its prime location, dining here makes one feel right at home, especially due to the authenticity of each dish featuring flavors that echo abuela’s home cooking.
My personal favorite was the Mama’s Style pork—a three-layered dish that could be best described as a Mexican lasagna. It features a base layer of homemade corn tortillas, followed by a secret blend of three cheeses, eight-hour braised pork, two more layers of tortilla, cheese, and pork, topped off with more cheese, two sunny-side-up eggs, chicharron crumbles and chile verde.
You might be wondering how a trip to Mexico fits into the genesis of Chicas Tacos. During that faithful trip, the brothers had a chance encounter what would later be recognized as the beginning of their affinity for food made with fresh, organic ingredients.
“As it turns out, there’s a wine region in Baja California called Valle de Guadalupe,” said Chris, as he poured champagne over cucumber mint and watermelon juice to make mimosas for the Gals and I.
“One day while wine tasting, [Jon and I] met a woman who took us back to her family farm. Her name was Carmela and it was there that we discovered the most amazing food, all grown fresh on their farm.”
Carmela prepared fish tacos for the brothers, with same-day caught fish that her father brought home from his afternoon on the water.
“It just blew our minds that there was something of that magnitude of healthy eating and farm-fresh food that was missing in LA. Flash forward [my brother and I] decided to re-group with our buddies, Nico Rusconi and Chef Eddie, and put Chicas Tacos on the map in LA.”
With such a rich history leading to the development of Chicas Tacos, it is no wonder why the food, atmosphere and spirit of the restaurant reverberate good-vibes along with its health-conscious menu.
Oh, and by the way—fun fact! The nickname of Carmela growing up was Chica, thus the name Chicas Tacos.