La Torre Taqueria

On this installment of “John Eats at a Place, Takes Pictures of it and Writes About it On the Interwebs”, I’m going to teach you a lesson.  There is no charge for this lesson.  All I ask is you continue to read my stuff and share it on your favorite social network.  Ready? OK, let’s go.

Say you’re driving down the road looking for a Mexican restaurant and you’re going to pick it only by the way they present themselves.  This would be a weird way to find something to eat.  Let’s change that.  Imagine you’re a Yelp reviewer and you’re looking for someplace that you can critique and really act like you know what you’re talking about based on years of culinary experience and education.  Since your mission in life is to write about restaurants and guide the owners to culinary greatness, you need to find a place that really really needs your help.  Say you drive by a Mexican joint that looks like this:

tios-mexican-cafe

The appropriate action is to continue driving.  The more appropriate action is to speed up so you pass it faster.  The most appropriate action is to give this restaurant the middle finger for confusing people about Mexican food, speed up and drive right by.  The only reason places like this should exist is to give you an example when talking about how much better a good Mexican restaurant is.   Side note, I can never be too mad at Tios Mexican Cafe because they have served bullshit food to the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor for years and also provided me with a ton of material to write about.  Its newest contribution to absolutely destroying Mexican food is “Chili Queso Fries”.

o

Ladies and gentleman, that is an absolute disgrace.  The fact that someone actually prepared that and though it would be a good idea to trade it for money terrifies me.  BUT ANYWAYS, there is a point to all of this madness.  This isn’t just another post where John rants about how shitty Tios Mexican Cafe is.  There actually is a lesson here.  Imagine you’re driving down that same street.  You’ve slowed down and you’re looking for a more appropriate place to eat than Tios Mexican Cafe.  You come across the following sign:

IMG_20170418_141328

This all but guarantees you a quality Mexican dining experience. Ignore the fact that it’s surrounded by a liquor store and an adult novelties shop.  Between those two businesses resides an authentic family owned restaurant that is simply trying to provide you a quality meal for an affordable price.  It’s been a long road to get here (if you actually are reading this), but I give you.. La Torre Taqueria.

When you walk in you are greeted by a man and a woman who I can only assume are the owners.  They are incredibly friendly and make a point to welcome every customer that walks in the door.  You are faced with a large chalkboard menu above a counter that takes carry out orders and five or six tables for eating in.  There is one small cooking area that is in plain view so you can watch the owners grill your food, heat up the tortillas and prepare everything right in front of you.  Not only is this a fun experience, but you can see the simple processes that make Mexican food so great.

IMG_20170418_135609-01

You are given two sauces after you order.  I’m not saying these are life changing but I want to completely change my life after eating them.  I would drink this stuff.  They are incredible.  After my meal, I could taste the green sauce during my entire 45 minute drive home.  I literally started looking up verde hot sauce recipes while I was in the restaurant with the dream of recreating it.

Their tacos are also borderline life changing.  The Pastor is pretty standard – marinated pork with a little fruityness that cuts the spice.  The Carnitas are on another level — not quite as crispy as I’m used to but the flavor is crazy.  The cilantro and onion were so fresh and flavorful that they hung out right with the pork flavor and made the taco complete. When you add the hot sauce, you’re looking at one of the better start to finish taco experiences I have had.

IMG_20170418_135842-02

The summary of this lesson is always judge a book by its cover when it comes to Mexican food. If you see a Mexican “cafe” or anything named something that white people associate with Mexican culture – sombreros, mariachis, ect – stay away.  If you see a no bullshit sign out front with the word “taqueria” in the name, get in there.

The most important thing — La Torre Taqueria is delicious.  Go there.  it’s on 1525 Washtenaw Ave in Ypsilanti.

Ma Lou’s Fried Chicken

Last year Frank Fejeran posted something on his Instagram about buying an old Chinese restaurant and opening up a chicken joint.  I’ve been interested in his food moves since he up and quit the Raven’s Club and wrote a Jerry McGuire-like manifesto before doing so.  First was opening a Pacific Island Style BBQ truck in Ricewood BBQ.  Think of it as wood smoked meats topped with a spicy soy sauce and vinegar based sauce all on top of rice.  His next challenge turned out to be turning the old yellow chop suey joint on Michigan Ave into a little joint specializing in fried chicken of the hot variety.  The menu is simple with three different levels of heat that ranges from Southern style to Spicy as fuck.  All of the chickens come with pickles and bread.  Sides are simple as well with coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans being my usual suspects.  To drink, which you’ll need if you choose anything above Southern Style, you have sweet tea, Faygo and horchata.

wp-image-1113690477jpg.jpg

Here is where I stop acting like a food reviewer and just tell you how good this place is.  If you’re not familiar with hot or Nashville Style chicken, Wikipedia has more than enough information to run you through it.  I’m not going to do that. I went with half a chicken with medium spicy for $11 and potato salad for an extra $3.  The medium spice was almost the perfect level of spice for me – just enough to make me tear up a bit but not enough to make me regret it in the morning.  Seriously some of the better fried chicken I’ve had in the area, right in competition with Seoul Street.  The potato salad was mayo based which cooled down the burn a bit.  By the end of the meal my fingers were stained red with Cayenne, I had gone through about 7 napkins and I had eaten enough to get me through both lunch and dinner.  If you’re not a fatass like me, you can likely survive with a breast or leg or even a sandwich.

I don’t do letter grades or stars here.  I leave that to the turds on Yelp.  I will simply leave it this…

Do you like fried chicken?  Do you like hot chicken?  Are you unsure if you like hot chicken?  Are you hungry?  Do you need a new place to eat?  If the answer to any of these questions is YES go to Ma Lou’s right now.  Seriously, get off your phone and go.  Stop wasting time.  It’s that fucking good.

Hopefully in the future they can offer a cheep beer or three with my meal.  That would have made it absolutely perfect.

Website
15 W. Michigan Ave – Ypsilanti