Taqueria Los Lagos is a smaller, family-owned and operated Mexican restaurant, located in Antelope, CA in a suburban shopping center, dominated by west coast giant Winco Foods. The restaurant is staffed by mostly family members, serves delicious Mexican cuisine, and is open every day of the week. A true bonus is on weekends, the restaurant opens early and serves menudo, along with birria. Muy sabroso!
As with all reviews I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: It's "noonish" on Saturday, June 05, 2010, and I've arrived at Taqueria Los Lagos to enjoy lunch. I was surprised to find the restaurant signed as "Taqueria Guadalajara" but when I asked the staff about the conflicting name, I was told that was left over from the previous owner.
Taqueria Los Lagos is located in a 1990's-era shopping center on Elverta Rd, in Antelope, CA, just across from the west coast food giant Winco Foods.
The restaurant dishes out authentic Mexican cuisine in the style of Guadalajara, so the former name seems appropriate. I should have asked where the name "Los Lagos" came from, as the restaurant is many miles from any lake, let along "lakes."
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, you'll be treated to the main dining room, with booths against the wall and tables next to a low partition that separates the dining from the kitchen/order area, and a couple of tables that seem mostly to be used for customers waiting for their "to go" orders to be ready. The floor is tiled, and the one of the walls is painted a rich vermilion red, while the back wall is lined with "faux" bricks. Real acoustic guitars decorate the painted walls, and decorative pennants hang from ceiling. There are also a few potted "faux" cactus plants, to give the dining room a "faux" desert atmosphere. Mexican popular music was playing in the background.
I sat at a booth, since I was by myself and didn't want to take up a table. Actually, I sat at multiple booths and each one had the same problem... when you'd sit down, you'd sink. The vinyl booth are tired and worn out, and need to be replaced. I ended up a booth by the entry door which was slightly firmer - evidently diners prefer not to sit by the entry door - but it was near the window, which provided better light for photography.
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, look to your left and you'll find the order counter. The Coca-Cola cooler is stocked with Mexican Coke and other similar products. The low partition separates the main dining room from the order counter, soda fountain and chips/salsa bar.
Photo: Like many taquerias, Taqueria Los Lagos operates on what I refer to as the "taqueria format." There are no printed menus, as the menu is posted above the order counter and the window to the kitchen. You make your selection from the posted menu, pay for it at the cash register and in return, you're given a number. Then you seat yourself at the table or booth or your choosing, and when your order is ready, it will be brought to your table with a smile.
Photo: On the "other side" of the partition, looking toward the order counter, and the many customers lining up to place their orders on this busy early Saturday afternoon. The self-serve soda fountain is to the right, in case you prefer domestic Coke products, rather than Mexican Coke products, offered in the cooler.
There used to be four tables set up on this side for dining, but a couple have been upended to adhere for "social distancing," and are mostly used as a sitting place for folks waiting for "to go" orders. The gentleman at the nearest table is actually dining in-house, and enjoying a bowl of birria at his table.
Photo: Now that all of the virus thing is mostly in the rear view mirror, Taqueria Los Lagos has opened their chi;s and salsa bar for business again. There are several varieties of salsa offered, including salsa verde, fresh salsa, guacamole, salsa picante, salsa roja, and crema, which is a somewhat unusual, but welcome offering. Not shown in the photo but to the left are little containers for salsa "to go" or to bring back to your table, and silverware that is "serve yourself" style.
The chips were good, but nothing spectacular, as they were simply crunchy tortilla chips kept warm under a heat lamp. They didn't taste fresh, but they didn't taste stale, but they made a good "platform" for the salsa, and something to munch on as I waited for my lunch to arrive.
The counter to the right of the chips/salsa bar contains bowls of diced white onion, diced fresh cilantro, along with Mexican oregano and small, dried chili peppers, most likely "chili de arbol" which I won't touch, as they're WAY to hot for my taste!
Photo: From my table, I peek over the partition and photo cashier/hostess Stephanie taking a customer's order. The "Daily Specials" menu, in blue, is posted directly above the order counter, with the main menu to the right. Today was Saturday, and I quickly noticed menudo was on the "Daily Special" menu, so I barely glanced at anything else.
Stephanie was amazing, as she wore several hats, including order taker, cashier, hostess and table busser. She was a busy lady, and seemed to be everywhere all of the time. There was another lady to seemed to be doing mostly clean-up duties, two chefs in the kitchen, and a gentleman who was bringing in deliveries. All of this was going on, on a busy, early Saturday afternoon...
I noticed there were as many "to go" orders as "dine-in" orders, as there was a constant stream of people entering the restaurant to pick up their orders.
Photo: Over the counter, I got a peek into the kitchen and watched one of the chefs warm tortillas on the griddle.
Photo: Met Stephanie, my friendly server, who brought my large bowl of menudo, along with corn tortillas to me behind a masked smile. Stephanie was very friendly, but very busy, as she was not only serving, but she was taking orders, working the register, answering the phone, and bussing tables.
The restaurant was busy on this early Saturday afternoon, and it took over 20 minutes for my order to arrive. No worries, as I'm never in a rush, but I did wonder what was going on, as I would "assume" there would be a big pot of menudo slowly simmering on a back burner.
Photo: Thanks, Stephanie for taking my photo, as I prepare to enjoy my lunch, with a smile. Despite the fact she was very busy, on my request, she found time to snap my photo. Thanks! I left a tip in the "tip jar" at the cash register.
Photo: From the "Daily Specials Sabados y Domingos" menu, posted above the order counter, I went with menudo and corn tortillas, and like birria, it's only offered on weekends. That's very common among Northern California Mexican restaurants, as there is a long preparation time with menu - 8 hours or more - and it's renown as a "hangover cure" which makes this savory stew a perfect fit for weekends. I chose corn tortillas, but flour tortillas are offered.
The serving was very large, and included a generous portion of tender, honeycomb tripe, cut to the perfect size, and lots of hominy. The broth was brick red, savory, flavorful, slightly spicy, but not at all hot. A nice thing was the stew arrived at just the right temperature, as I didn't have to wait for it to cool to enjoy. Perhaps this is the reason it took so long for my lunch to arrive? Whatever the case, Taqueria Los Lagos serves an excellent bowl of menu every weekend!
When I opened the tortilla warmer I was in for a pleasant surprise, as it held a stack of three large, thick, corn tortillas. By looking at the tortilla warmer, you get the idea of the size of the tortillas, as they were the same size as the tortilla warmer! The tortillas were toasted just right, arrived tender and slightly moist, and were THICK... perhaps some of the thickest corn tortillas that I've enjoy during my "foodie" travels in the greater Sacramento area. Such a great side to a bowl of menudo and perfect for dipping! With one tortilla, I took a little cup of fresh salsa - from the chips and salsa bar - poured on a tortilla, rolled it up, and made kind of a "veggie" taquito of sorts, which made for fine dipping into the menudo.
The menudo arrived without any additions, so I made a trip over to the chips/salsa bar and loaded up on diced white onion, cilantro, along with oregano, and dumped it all into my menudo. Now I was ready to enjoy!!!
Great menudo, great chips, great lunch! Weekends are for menudo, and in the Antelope area, Taqueria Los Lagos is menudo, as they serve outstanding menudo! Oh... don't forget the amazing corn tortillas...
Photo: I wasn't all that happy to find a piece of a cow knuckle in my menudo, which seems to happen to me much of the time, so I fished it out, and placed it in an extra empty chip box. I took a trip over the chips/condiment bar and grabbed fresh cilantro, diced white onion, along with Mexican oregano, to enhance the flavor of my delicious bowl of menudo. Muy Sabroso!
Note from the previous trip to the chip/salsa bar, the small box of tortilla chips, runny guacamole, fresh salsa, along with a bottle of Pacifico, which happens to be my favorite Mexican beer.
Photo: Here's the part of the cow knuckle, up-close-and-personal. Although it adds a delicious, "earthy flavor," to the stew, it belongs in the pot, not the bowl, as it takes up valuable space that could be used for more tripe!
The food is delirious, the price is reasonable, the all-you-can-eat chips and condiments bar is great feature, and the staff is friendly. Taqueria Los Laos makes a great choice for your Mexican dining enjoyment, in Antelope, CA.
Taqueria Los Lagos
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