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Taco-n-Tento ~ Ramona Blvd. & Durfee Ave. ~ El Monte

The 605 freeway carries you across the desert of industry towards the towering Sierra Madres. Before you reach the tunnel under the mountain through the Mines of Moria, an unlikely off-ramp at Ramona Blvd. will lead you into the taco oasis of El Monte. Tacos-N-Tento, as in- you will be muy contento if you eat here, anchors a small glacier of local businesses including a liquor store and laundry-mat. With friends like these, Tacos-N-Tento is guaranteed a steady stream of colorful customers who choose from a broad menu specializing in seafood and fish tacos. The 2x1 fish taco signage could refer to the 4x4 action at the nearby Irwindale Speedway. The fish tacos, estilo Ensenada, are sabroso and made with the signature style of the good people at Tacos-N-Tento. But why stop at that. The menu ranges from jugos naturales to slippery oysters on the half shell.

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Pictured here is a plate of 2x1 fish tacos and an order of potato tacos. I skipped the red salsa and opted for incremental bites of the seared red chile to fire up my digestive engine. These potato tacos are something like Italian bruschetta. Three thin, fried potato pouches are topped with a fresh salad of tomato, cilantro, lettuce and crumbled queso blanco. I'm not used to eating tacos sideways, gravity permitting, but it's the best way to eat these crispy, salad covered tacos with your hands. One, two, three- tasty! The fish taco is made with a golden briquette of fish, chopped cabbage, tomato, and a tangy, light cream sauce. Take another bite of your red chile for full effect.

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Tuesday's special is Pollo con Mole. The rich tar color of the mole is promising. The chef explains that all the drumsticks have been eaten; we love pechuga. The dish is served with Tacos-N-Tento's in-house tortillas which carry the weight. Use your rice to mop up every last drop of this chocolaty flood of mole flavor.

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This locals spot is crowded with wood tables, chairs, a killer juke-box and barrels of ingredients. The decor sports a giant crab, a Sailfish, a wall of Mexican prints depicting Aztec mythology/history, and a spectacularly detailed map of Mexico. If you eat here on Sunday, the place can be busy with patrons of the laundry mat next door. Like any good cantina, however, the crowd only amplifies the good vibes at Tacos-N-Tento. ¡Buen provecho!

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