Dining Out - Three Men and a Taco

by Luke Baumgarten, Joel Smith and Josh Smith & r & & r & CORONA VILLAGE & r & 1810 Second St., Cheney * 559-5422 & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & e like long, slender food joints where the food's cooked right in front of us, assembled right in front of us, nothing separating us from the food but that narrow little sneeze guard. We like places you can't really sit down in. Rather, we like places that are so packed into such little space and so filled with people that you can never find a place to sit. Those places are vital, living, breathing establishments. Look for such places, my friends, for therein you'll find great food. Corona Village in Cheney is a place like that. It's a no-nonsense taco-slinger's delight. --Joel S.

Luke, Fish Tacos ($6.95) & r & Fish tacos rock, right? Word. It's like: "Yeah, I'll go to Cabo. Yeah, I'll eat some fish tacos." I don't care about the trots, I'll risk Montezuma's revenge. I don't care, I'm crazy. My buddy Skeet's like, "Dude, you need to chill on those tacos, brah." But I'm like, "Nah, I'm good." Because I am good. And now I've found the straight dopest (read: one of the only) place(s) in Spokane to get them. They're simple little birds -- just some fish, some Pico de Gallo and a little lettuce -- but they've got more moxie than that sailfish Skeet I tried to wrestle into his Range Rover. (That thing was still alive!) Add a little of the house tomatillo salsa and you're set.

Joel, Tacos de Barbacoa ($7.50) & r & I really wanted to like this taco more. I mean, barbecue tacos? Come on. Plus, it looked pretty delicious in the Styrofoam box. The tortilla was fried to a deep gold, smeared in sauce and garnished with cilantro and onions, surrounded by seasoned rice and refried beans. But the grilled beef tasted too much like, well, beef. It was mooshy and overly rich, and not nearly as spicy and flavorful as the menu made it sound. Meat in a burrito ought to be a vehicle for the flavors it carries, not the flavor itself. Nonetheless, I dipped chip after crispy chip into the various salsas (the standard red one, though light on heat, is very good) and easily polished off the ultra-creamy, lardalicious refrieds.

Josh, Fajita Tacos ($6.50) & r & These are definitely no-frill tacos. No mucking around with sides of beans or rice, just three soft tortillas stuffed with marinated steak, along with peppers, onions, lettuce and jack cheese. My Styrofoam to-go container was also accompanied with a greasy bag of tasty chips, some salsa and a heart-stopping dollop of sour cream. The steak is perfect in texture, resistant but not too tough or chewy, and the marinade mixes well with the peppers and onions. The Corona Salsa Picosa, their hottest salsa, initially has a fresh and minty but unidentifiable taste. Of course, a full-bore fire starts burning throughout your mouth soon after (though it doesn't last excessively long). Definitely worth a trip back to Cheney.

TACOS TUMBRAS & r & 5601 E. Sprague (in front of Costco) * 701-1205 & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & "T & lt;/span & acos tumbras" means something like "your everyday tacos," or "the tacos you're used to." And after our first trip to their big mobile location on East Sprague (there's another on North Division), we gotta say that we certainly wouldn't mind making their little meat-filled delights our everyday tacos. Though they're only about the size of a CD when laid flat, they're packed with flavor and taste like the real deal. Because they're so small and cheap ($1.25 each), we each decided to review two of them. Though in truth we each ate four, sitting in the back of Josh's pickup truck (there's no seating anywhere here), watching the cars whiz past on Sprague and wiping the hot sauce from the corners of our mouths. -- Joel S.

Luke, Mexicano, Chorizo ($2.50) & r & Another way Mexico does things way better than America: chorizo. Damn, that junk's fly. So much flavor (and fat and cholesterol) in such a little space. Don't doll it up, just give it to me straight. Like they do at Tacos Tumbras, were their chorizo taco is probably the simplest thing on the menu. It's just chorizo, a little onion and some cilantro. The ingredients work but keep the flava of the sausage in the forefront. Another zazzy, simple taco -- the Mexicano -- is filled with steak, onions, tomatoes and topped with a wedge of Serrano pepper. That junk is hot, kid (twice that of a jalapeno), so beware. It adds a quick straight punch of heat that subsides pretty quickly. Both tacos were incredibly tasty and incredibly cheap.

Joel, Tongue, Chicken ($2.50) & r & I'll admit that while I've always regarded the presence of tongue, brains or menudo on the menu of a Mexican eatery as a good omen for its authenticity, I've never had the guts (sorry) to actually try them. No longer. I got the tongue taco, and I loved it. Considerably softer than I expected, it was packed with flavor. I'll go back for that one. The chicken taco was also good, though it suffered from the same problem that afflicted all the tacos -- it was a little dry. That wouldn't have been a problem, except that their red salsa was insipid (though hot) and their tomatillo was just so-so. Still, that's no reason to discount this place. The stuff was delicious.

Josh, Steak, Walla Walla Sweet ($2.50) & r & The steak and pork tacos are all right. Nothing particularly stunning or anything but more than simply edible. Each small taco is covered in a good layer of meat and then some diced onions and cilantro. Going back for another (for they truly are Tacos Habitual), I am compelled to try the Walla Sweet taco. An onion taco? What is this madness? Apparently it's grilled steak and Walla Walla sweet onions equaling an oniony-fruity explosion of flavor in my mouth. These are the best things ever. My only complaint is the red salsa has a good medium heat to it but not much in the way of flavor enhancers. Order the Walla Walla sweet taco, though, and you won't need any more flavor.

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