Eats by E Filipino Taco Tuesday Recap

Full disclosure: I was invited to attend Filipino Taco Tuesday with Chef Eric Pascual in Berekley, California. I was offered two tickets to the dinner in exchange for my opinion. These opinions are my own and do not represent Chef Eric Pascual or any affiliates.

Taco Tuesday is one of my favorite food celebrations that has been popularized in the 21st century. You might have a rough Monday and there are still a few days to go until the weekend and then Taco Tuesday comes in to save the week. Tacos, margaritas, and beer is always nice in my book.

Chef Eric Pascual and I have been connected online for a few years since he spent time in Tampa Bay in the past and followed me on social media. I actively watched the Filipino Food Movement in California and New York for years from Florida and saw him as a part of that movement.

Recently, Chef Eric Pascual relocated over to Berkeley to host his regular pop-ups and is starting over in a new part of California. He invited me to come check out one of his dinners for an article and I was more than happy to attend. The Filipino Taco Tuesday presents an appetizer, salad, numerous Filipino-inspired tacos, and dessert. His pop-ups are BYOW (Bring-Your-Own-Wine) for those who want to bring their own libations.

The evening started with lumpia. Both chicken and veggie were available and made well with a slightly spicy vinegar dip. The lumpia rolls were served on sharing platters for guests as a warm-up to the tacos.

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I enjoyed my lumpia with a Modelo beer which was a nice pairing.

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When it comes to lumpia, I judge a roll based on how packed the rolls are and how crispy the outside of the lumpia is without being too fried. Sometimes the problem with lumpia is dirty oil at restaurants that is being reused. Not the case at this dinner.

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The ingredients inside should be quality or you will most certainly taste it in every bite due to the wrapper not being as thick as an eggroll. I was happy with these lumpia rolls and felt like it was a good starter.

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Between courses a salad was prepared with organic greens, radishes, calamansi/sesame viaigrette, coconut/garlic croutons. Plenty of arugula greens were in the salad, which I enjoyed.

The Tacos

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The first taco was a Salmon Belly Sisig Taco. Sisig is one of my favorite Filipino foods and is usually made of pieces of pig ear on a sizzling platter, sometimes with an egg on-top. The Salmon Belly version took some elements of sisig and swapped it out for a salmon interpretation with tomato salsa, diced onions, peppers, and cilantro.

There was so many things going on in this taco that I couldn’t fully appreciate the salmon belly itself. In a way it reminded me a little of salmon sinigang. The taco was enjoyable, but not what I expected when reading the name of the taco on the menu.

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Next up was the Chicken Adobo Taco. Chicken Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and there are probably over 10,000+ recipes on how to prepare the dish since there are so many islands and tribes in the Philippines. It is one of the most difficult dishes to please a diner with due to all the variations.

This taco features vinegar, Tamari, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro. I expected a more soy-sauce heavy taste in this taco that was actually not too apparent here, maybe due to the Tamari use for gluten-free diners instead of soy sauce.  It reminded me more of a home-cooked chicken that my guest and I could both relate too. Delicious, but not what I expected.

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The third taco was a Veggie Taco with roasted tofu and mushrooms topped off with roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro. This taco was really interesting and a nice middle of the way dish. I really liked the mushrooms, and am a huge fan of mushrooms in general.

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After the veggie taco the Braised Bistek Taco came out and this taco was truly the star taco of the night. The taste of Filipino Bistek was very apparent and the meat was very tender and flavorful with plenty of calamansi, garlic, tamari, black pepper, sauteed onions, tomato salsa, and cilantro.

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I would order this taco all night long. It was my favorite dish of the evening until a surprise dish was added to the menu.

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Chef Eric added a Kare-Kare Tostada to the menu made with organic peanut butter, bagoong shrimp paste, and 5-hour braised oxtail cooked in chicken stock. This was by far my favorite dish of the night and should certainly be added to the regular line-up of Chef Eric’s dinners.

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The taste of the Kare-Kare is so bold and the organic peanut butter does seem to really enhance the meat. Every time the meat touches your tongue, you get a nice feeling of flavor on the back. It isn’t traditional per se, but it is incredibly delicious. Between this and the Bistek Taco, I could eat Chef Eric’s food all night long.

Dessert

 

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Dinner ended with a Bibingka Churro Donuts. I love all three of these things so I was not surprised that it was amazing. I’ve only had bibingka once in the past with Chef Eric and it was flawless that time as well.

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The addition of a churro flavoring with cinnamon and sugar is genius. The strawberries on the side are a nice touch. The only thing I would add is maybe a dip on the side with chocolate, ube, or both. Either way still a great dish that I enjoyed.

Thus, the evening came to a filling and happy end. I asked Chef Eric to shoot a quick video with me so he could explain his background and why he does what he does. It can’t be easy to work as a pop-up chef, but Chef Eric has done this for years now and is very passionate about his craft. Hopefully he will find an audience in Berkeley that appreciates him and will support his food creations. I know I want to go back in the future for another dinner or happy hour.

If you want to check out Eats by E and the dinners by Chef Eric Pascual you can visit him online at eatsbye.com.

Follow Eats by E on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EatsByE/

Follow Eats by E on Feastly: http://eatfeastly.com/eatsbye/

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Monthly Filipino-inspired Taco Tuesday with Eats by E in Berkeley March 5th

Looking for a different kind of Taco Tuesday? Eats by E Chef Eric Pascual is hosting his monthly Filipino Taco Tuesday pop-up on March 5th, 2019. The event is happening at 2940 Seventh Street Berkeley, California 94710 with Feastly from 7PM to 8:30PM and tickets are now available.

Chef Pascual has hosted Feastly pop-up dinners for the last few years. He recently did a round of funding for his new spot in Berkeley. Feastly seeks to help connect passionate chefs to diners by offering chefs a platform to host private dinners.

Yours truly at an Eats by E dinner a few years ago. Delicious.

Chef Pascual is an active member of the Filipino community in the San Francisco Bay Area and hosts a number of Filipino-themed dinners and kamayans regularly mixed with Hawaiian and Peruvian influences from his upbringing.

Eats by E holds a 5-star rating on Feastly with nearly 3,500 reviews.

On the menu:

  • Vegetable Lumpia – Filipino-style egg roll with diced vegetables. Served with a spiced vinegar dipping sauce.
  • Salad – Mix greens, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, radishes. Calamansi vinaigrette. Coconut/garlic croutons.
  • Braised Beef Taco – Beef slow-cooked in garlic, calamansi, Tamari, lemongrass, ginger, Roli Roti beef bone broth, and spices with a roasted tomato salsa diced onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Chicken Adobo Taco – Chicken stewed in vinegar, Tamari (gluten-free) soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, black peppercorns. Topped with a roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Veggie Taco – Roasted Mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic, peppers with a roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Shrimp and Avocado Poke Taco – Poached shrimp, avocado, sesame, Tamari, Adoboloco Hawaiian chili pepper sauce. Topped with a roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Bibingka Churro Donuts – Fried pastry made with rice flour and coconut milk. Coated with cinnamon and sugar.

Tickets cost $35 and can be bought online: http://eatfeastly.com/meals/d/191615028/a-filipino-inspired-taco-tuesday-4/

Taco Traveler delivers world class eats

I stopped by The Taco Traveler food truck today for Taco Tuesday at C. 1949 Florida Beer Garden. The two have teamed up for a weekly Taco Tuesday event as of late. It was my first time visiting either business.

The Taco Traveler is a local food truck that started last year serving tacos inspired from around the world.

To be honest, I’m surprised there are not more taco trucks in Tampa Bay considering how popular Mexican food is and how easy you can blend it with other cuisines. In world history, Mexico was an important connection between the Eastern and Western worlds and many flavors and spices traveled through Mexico to other nations.

Let me mention also that The Taco Traveler isn’t trying to play towards traditional Mexican cuisine, but the dishes it puts out do capture the flavors I want in my food.

The Taco Traveler has a few standard menu items and rotating specials.

On the list were the Korean BBQ Taco, Banh Mi Taco, Tex Mex Taco…to name a few. I went with the Tex Mex Taco which was the Taco Tuesday special ($2) and the Korean BBQ Taco ($4.50 with tax). Both surpassed my expectations and impressed me.

They offer a choice of flour or corn tortillas and the correct answer to that question is always corn tortillas.

The sad part about corn tortillas is when they rip – but that’s what forks are for!

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The Tex Mex Taco comes with your choice of beef or chicken, cheese, shredded lettuce, house-made salsa, sour cream, and green onions. What impressed me about it was the quality of the beef I ordered and the seasonings of it – it was excellent down to every last bite.

The salsa was also quite tasty.

Then there was the Korean BBQ Taco which came with pickled red cabbage, Korean BBQ, sriracha aioli, kimchi, queso fresco, and green onions. It was INCREDIBLE and I was truly happy with this taco.

I’m a bit of a Korean food snob having lived in Seoul in the past, but this taco was definitely what I wanted and how I imagine a Korean taco would taste. It made me start thinking about all the other possibilities of what can be done using Korean cuisine when applied to other categories.

Can I also say that more places in Tampa should use queso fresco? It’s such an amazing topping to food dishes and you hardly see it on menus here.

The prices were reasonable considering they are a small trailer food truck. I had two tacos and felt pretty full. I would like to try their nachos in the future.

I will definitely return in the future for more tacos.

C. 1949 was also quite an experience. The bar menu was huge and the staff was friendly. They had a ton of local options and the draft beer and local list was filled with tons of choices and varieties and many new craft beer choices that are just recently hitting the market.

It’s obvious that the management of C. 1949 cares about providing quality craft beer to their customers.

The atmosphere at C. 1949 fits Seminole Heights as a neighborhood and has that hipster vibe down.

The lighting and actual decor is modern and the bar itself is spacious, well air-conditioned, and has plenty of seats. Outdoor seating is nice although it was certainly be more enjoyable when Florida cools down a bit.

The live acoustic musician outside was great and fit the overall vibe. C. 1949 seems to be doing lots of events lately and you can see more about it on their website if you’re interested: http://c1949.com/

Tampa Bay Taco Tuesday Dining Guide

Wondering where to eat for Taco Tuesday in Tampa? No, I’m not talking about your average Tijuana Flats. Taco Tuesday offers deals at many great spots around town and no two taco places are created equal.

Here is my list of go-to spots for Taco Tuesday deals in Tampa Bay and places I’d recommend visiting. There may be more restaurants offering the deal, but that doesn’t mean I recommend them.

  1. La Villa River Hills: I am a Mexican food snob from San Francisco and most places in Tampa are “good for Tampa” and that is about it – they don’t even come close to the quality or ingredients of taquerias on The Mission. La Villa River Hills is the real deal though. Fresh, Mexican cuisine at an affordable price and the quality is apparent in everything from their salsa to their tamales. They offer $2 tacos on Tuesday. The location is near FishHawk and Valrico which is a long drive for many – but well worth it. You might want to call-ahead because the restaurant is small, but this is easily my favorite Mexican place in Tampa Bay right now.
  2. Taco Traveler: This local food truck is delivering tasty non-traditional tacos on Tuesdays at C. 1949 in Seminole Heights. Enjoy $2 taco specials and $1 off select beer inside the building. Live-music is also happening.
  3. Ciccio Cali: One of the best known Taco Tuesday deals in town. Many of the bowls available at Ciccio Cali can be converted into flour tacos for just $2 each during Taco Tuesday. They load them up. My favorite? Hot & Crunchy Tuna. The flavor is there. More places should experiment with sushi tacos in general. Be patient because the crowds can get crazy and my experiences with hostesses have been mixed. It’s located in Brandon, New Tampa, and St. Pete.
  4. TacoSon: The original Taco Bus. TacoSon is where the owners of the original Taco Bus opened shop after their sale and you can tell by the crowds that the original fans have followed them to this location on 56th Street. Avoid the drive-thru unless you’re comfortable with sitting in your car for long periods of time and just go inside. They don’t do Taco Tuesday deals, but on the flip-side tacos there are $2.50 everyday. Real deal. They now have locations in St. Pete and Wesley Chapel as well.
  5. California Tacos To-Go: This local chain has excellent tacos and offers 2 tacos, chips, and a drink for $6.99. A little more expensive than some other spots, but the quality is definitely there. Most recipes hail from SoCal and the loaded fish tacos are truly amazing. Locations in USF, South Tampa, and St. Pete. It’s one of the few places that Guy Fieri recommends that I can agree with.

If a place did not make the list – it is likely that I either do not recommend it, I haven’t visited the place, or I forgot and this list will be regularly updated as well so look for that. If your favorite place isn’t on the list that’s okay too. This is an opinion-based piece and you are entitled to your opinion.