This is truly an exciting time in Old Towne Orange. We have some new restaurants, a new parking structure and some other construction projects happening at the plaza. The newest addition to the OTO community is The Taco Stand. It is located in the same building as Snooze an A.M. Eatery. They are working on putting up their sign and without it, I almost missed it.
As you enter, you can tell that this is an inviting space. The exposed brick wall provides a great backdrop for all your food blogging needs while reminding you that you are still in Old Towne Orange. The menu is straightforward and divided into 3 sections. You have your choice of Tacos, Burritos, and Extras. What are the extras you ask? Extras include things like fries with various toppings, corn on the cob, quesadillas, churros, chips, and others.
What I love about this place is that I can order a variety of different tacos without breaking the bank. No more “should I go with Baja or carne asada,” the answer is “get both.” Most tacos are under $4 per taco, trust me, get a few.
Ok so far so good. I am greeted with a very friendly cashier that knows exactly what to suggest for all the newbies. There are a few people ahead of me so while I wait I get mesmerized by the guy that calls himself “The Churro Guy.” Have you ever seen churros made in front of you? I had not, so this was a nice distraction while I waited in line.
Another thing I notice right away is that I can see everything. I mean, everything. The kitchen is right there in front of you, not in some back room far away from the customers they serve. I am only separated by a clear glass where I see the employee turning out taco shells, someone else grilling tomatoes and line cooks attending to the grilling of the meat. Ohh, and I almost forgot the most important thing they have, a vertical roaster, where meat is cooked while spinning in a circle with a pineapple on top. I had only seen these at gyro places. I knew I had to try that!
Following the cashiers’ suggestions, I ordered an al pastor taco and carne asada fries. While waiting for my order, I found a table and headed over to the salsa/sauce bar. So many options! Who doesn’t love free stuff? My first impulse is to take all the sauces and try them all but then I evaluate and get my faves like pico de gallo, chipotle and pickled onions.
Once I received my food I was pleasantly surprised with the portion sizes and generosity of toppings. The carne asada fries came with the guac on top and they did not skimp. The fries were crispy but soft inside, perfect for dipping into the guac and cheese. The fries are big enough so they can easily be shared between 2 very hungry adults. Lol. There is a saying that it is impossible to eat just one chip. Well, these fries are the same. So addictive! Next thing you know they were all gone.
Now the moment I had been waiting for, the al pastor taco. The size is what I would expect to be at any restaurant serving tacos. The serving was generous but not over the top. I like the fact that I can handle the taco without spilling the ingredients all over the place or my lap. The first bite is great and I can tell that this is something special. It’s so good, fresh, fragrant and delicious! No toppings needed, seriously. You can taste the tender meat and the subtle sweetness of the pineapple. The ingredients complement each other and give you that perfect bite.
I wish there was something I didn’t like about this place because now I want to go there every day! If you are looking for a casual eatery that delivers on freshness and taste while staying on a budget, this is it. A big plus for all the night owls…The Taco Stand is open till 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday through Thursday they are open from 10 AM – 10 PM.