California Tacos

California Tacos is part of my USF Dining Guide.

California Tacos is a true taco stand in every sense of the name. Most people don’t know what to make of the exterior. It looks like it was shipped from Southern California and dropped on Bearss Ave. in Tampa, Florida. The name “California” itself drew me to this place because California is known for quality food and after a few Tampa Yelpers reviewed the location with positive reviews I decided to try it out for myself.

Upon parking I found myself staring at a taco stand with only a few tables and chairs around. This place was going to be a completely different experience then the Taco Bus. I was greeted by a man at the cashier window and he asked me if it was my first time. When I responded yes I was provided some surfer munchies (carrots and various other veggies) while I waited on my order. I decided to order their California Burrito with Carne Asada inside (around $8 or $9 with guacamole and sour cream). The thought of having french fries inside a burrito blew my mind. When I tasted it though I was so impressed.

The taste is completely different from anything you have probably had anywhere else. Nothing like Moes, Chipotle, TJ Flats, or authentic Mexican joints like the Taco Bus. The cheeses are clearly American cheeses (tasted like cheddar), but somehow it was just amazing. The steak wasn’t seasoned like Vallartas or Taco Bus, but man it was still good. The french fries, which had blown my mind actually tasted amazing inside a burrito. It’s like when you put onion rings in your burger for the first time or first dipped french fries in your ice cream…an unknown genius thought.

The Horchata was actually made very well. The perfect amount of sweetness, I think sometimes Taco Bus has too much cinnamon sweet taste, but California Tacos does it just right. The drink size is unfortunately smaller.

Delicious tacos! Too bad they aren’t bigger.

On my next visit I had their Tijuana Tacos (3 for $3), which are like miniature tacos with their pork. They are simply heavenly. The man at the stand wasn’t lying when he said they would leave me wanting more. I ordered two and then still decided to try their Tasty Tostada ($2.79), a huge tostada that maybe I should not have ordered because man I was going to gain some weight eating all this good food. Regardless, I was glad I tried both and after trying them I became confidant that this place deserves attention and love for making all this good food.

Their tostadas are loaded. Full of ingredients and tastes great, but hard to grab because of all the ingredients…make sure you grab a fork!

To rate this restaurant against the Taco Bus or any Mexican restaurant is simply unfair (though comparison works due to some similarities). The meats have the same names, but have different (and interestingly good) tastes. The Southern California style is something I am unfamiliar with as I was a Northern California former resident, but I am impressed with their quality of food and will happily visit California Tacos many times in the future.

California Tacos To Go on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: California Tacos

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 1450 Skipper Rd. Tampa, FL 33613

Neighborhood: USF

Phone Number: (813) 971-8226

Website: http://www.californiatacostogo.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/California-Tacos/75129943307?ref=ts

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Sa Ri One Lunch Box: New Korean To-Go by USF

Note: Sa Ri One Lunch Box has closed down.

About 3 weeks ago Sa Ri One, one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Tampa, opened a new branch called Sa Ri One Lunch Box out by USF. Tuesday my friends and I dined at the original Sa Ri One on Cypress St. (more on that in my next blog). Curious about how this location matches up I decided to grab some dinner at Lunch Box the next night.

Driving down 56th Street it’s really easy to miss Lunch Box. There is a ton of construction around and the plaza you find the little Korean place in is not the best area. However, the location is great in relation to USF and Temple Terrace residents having access to it. One of the employees there told me one of the reasons they opened a new branch was because they wanted to make it easier for people, who normally have to go all the way to Cypress Street by South Dale Mabry, to enjoy a good Korean meal.

Lunch Box is exactly what it sounds like, they have lunch and dinner portions of popular Korean food. You won’t be able to purchase Korean soups, enjoy lots of sides, or specialty items because the concept of Lunch Box is a to-go concept. You come in and select an order from the list of combos, such as Galbi, Bulgogi, Bibimbop, and Kimbob. A few minutes after ordering you have a to-go box in your hand full of vegetables, dumplings, rice, and your choice of meat.

An employee there hinted that they are working on some new concepts and that a snow ice cream will be coming soon to their location.

The place itself is clean and will hopefully keep the modern look it currently has. They also offer wi-fi, which is nice for iPod Touch and laptop users like myself. I decided to try their bulgogi beef since I didn’t order it the night before at the original location (almost all my friends did though).

The bulgogi was excellent. I think it maybe slightly better at the original since it’s on that hot pan when it comes out, but they still served it to me right it was cooked right. There was plenty of flavor, seasoning, and vegetables on it…it did not dry out. The vegetables and dumplings were a nice addition and the white rice (they also have fried rice) made me feel full. The price was affordable only around $9 as well (with a soda can).

Overall, I really like this little spot and will be making many trips back whenever I get the craving for Korean food and am in the USF/Temple Terrace area.

Sa Ri One Lunch Box on Urbanspoon

Name: Sa Ri One Lunch Box

Address: 8892 N. 56th St Temple Terrace, FL 33617

Phone Number: 813-984-2800

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sa-ri-one-lunch-box-tampa