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This Hidden Taquería Inside a Liquor Store Parking Lot in Fullerton Offers Killer Pambazos and Chiapas-style Enchiladas

3:01 PM PST on November 11, 2021

    As you navigate yourself and survive in Sur Califas’s day-to-day grind, very few things have the power to nourish you and also be a gateway to an unforgettable, unique experience like tacos do. In Fullerton, a taco vortex behind a convenience store leads you to a hidden cenaduría-type setup where savory pambazos and cheesy enchiladas are served out of a liquor store’s side door. 

    You might miss the spot if you look too hard at your perpetually dwindling gas gauge on your dashboard while driving down Orangethorpe Boulevard in Fullerton, but you’ll find a white Dodge van parked underneath a liquor store sign. “Paco’s Tacos” is painted on the side of the van, and sitting on top of it is another sign with a picture of a flaming trompo captioned “Pacos Tacos, Estilo D.F.” Across the driveway, in the same parking lot, are several U-Haul Trucks waiting to be rented. Such items lining up together—a liquor, a U-haul, and tacos on the same lot—is the kind of stuff that may very well be a sign from the TACO gods that you’ve arrived. 

    Inside the liquor store, you’ll find a small kitchen next to the register. Remy Singh owns the market and tells L.A. TACO, “I bought this six years ago. It used to be a market.” Singh converted the market into a liquor store and rented out the kitchen to a local working-class taquero, Abram Espinoza, and he and his family has been there ever since. You can order from inside the store or go out and find the side gate dressed with a Mexican Flag and covered with a makeshift tarp with two tacos drawn on it. Taquería Paco’s Tacos is painted above it, and instructions for Doordash drivers are written in large red letters. 

    Outside Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Outside Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Outside Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Outside Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

    Once through the gate, you’ll walk into a tent and past boxes stored in the corner. Arrive at a table propped across a small door that’s opened to the kitchen. This is how you find yourself ready to order from the menu. 

    The tacos are the Cali-classic two-bite sized tortillas and dressed with the standard complement of minced onions, cilantro, and your choice of salsas. The asada and al pastor were my favorite carnes, chopped thoroughly and cooked till the ends were nice and crispy. The same can be said of their chicken, and the lengua was a bit dry but still enjoyable. 

    Inside the liquor store next to Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Inside the liquor store next to Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO. 
    The low key hidden entrance to Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    The low key hidden entrance to Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

    The quesadillas are the longer, almost mini-machete-shaped ones in style typical to Chiapas, Mexico, where the working taquería family is from. They are prepared, shamelessly, with fresh-made Maseca, as was evident by the 50-pound bag of Maseca resting at a table outside the kitchen doorway. Order one with Flor de Calabaza (squash blossoms) if a quesadilla is what you decide to order. The generously sized huaraches and the gorditas are also prepared with the same Maseca. They’re thoroughly enjoyable, but I recommend you dig deeper into the menu. 

    Order the pambazo and the enchiladas. Both are prepared with the same flavorful red chile sauce without heat. The pambazos are prepared with meaty neon red chorizo and chopped potato with lettuce, crema, tomato, and cotija. For the enchiladas, you can order any protein, and it’s prepared with cheese. Instead of rolling up the enchiladas, they are served like tacos making them almost mistakable in appearance for a taco de canasta. The melted cheese, with your meat of choice, in that tortilla stained red with the sauce it’s cooked with, it’s a fantastic surprise to find this hidden gem. It also happens to be the perfect spot to pig out while waiting out the 5 freeway’s highly punishing rush hour.  

    Quesadiilas at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Quesadiila at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

    Carlos, an older nephew of Espinoza, tells L.A. TACO that he’s helping out his uncle who owns the shop while he’s out buying inventory. According to Carlos, the family’s matriarch was lost to COVID last year, and the family is stepping in to help out the taquería and keep her flavors alive. 

    If you go to support, please be mindful that they, like all businesses, are struggling with help. But patience will be rewarded with a bomb pambazos that are the next best thing to booking a flight to Mexico City and three cheese-rich enchiladas. In hindsight, I should have grabbed a beer from the store and ordered the enchiladas with chorizo and papas, but hey, there’s always the next time.

    Pambazo at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Pambazo at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Enchiladas at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
    Enchiladas at Taquería Paco's Tacos. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

    1860 W Orangethorpe Ave

    Fullerton, CA  92833

    United States 

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