Take a bite: Arturo’s Puffy Taco
All photos by Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES
Unless you are eating tacos from one of Kogi’s trucks or at a farm-to-fork restaurant ripe with hipsters, foodies and hipster foodies, the taco is a simple food. Between the many Mexican restaurants and taco stands in the general La Mirada and Whittier areas, tacos are reliably delicious, but fairly uniform. Yet the puffy taco from Arturo’s Puffy Taco off of Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Leffingwell Road in Whittier trumps the rest in its proud, deep-fried triumph.
DEEP-FRIED TACO TRIUMPH
The standard staples — meat, cheese, lettuce and salsa — still show up on the tacos at Arturo's, though the meat and salsa are above average. Spicier than most pico de gallos, the chunky red salsa poured over the top of each puffy taco adds a fresh, tomato-ey kick to each bite. A salsa bar in the indoor seating area offers additional green and red — mild and hot respectively — salsas as well. While the salsa that comes with the taco is satisfactory, it tasted a little too close to Pace salsa. I preferred the green salsa from the salsa bar instead.
There are five types of taco fillings to choose from: carne asada, carnitas, pollo, picadillo and carne guisada. The seasoning on the pollo and carne asada is simple, probably just salt and maybe pepper, but it allows the pure flavor of the grilled meat to shine through. While these things alone make a good taco, they are not what makes Arturo's puffy tacos great.
Who knew that a deep fried taco shell could lift up the taco to such gastronomic heights? Do not mistake the puffy taco shell for the standard hard taco shells at most Mexican taco shops. Those crunchy shells are but thin, stale pieces of cardboard next to the magnificence of the puffy shell. The puffy taco is, well, puffy. Soft inside with a satisfying crunch on the outer shell, the puffy shell becomes almost like a thin version of the outside of a tamale. The corn tortilla is no longer just a way to deliver the taco filling to your mouth, but an important contribution to the experience.
QUALITY FOOD FOR A REASONABLE PRICE
Not only will the tacos blow you away, but the prices at Arturo's won't blast a hole in your wallet. Each taco ranges between $2.25 - $2.70, depending on your meat choice. Grabbing a cold horchata to balance out the spicy salsa on your taco only costs $1.75 - $2.55. The rest of the menu, which includes burritos, tostadas, taquitos, enchiladas, quesadillas and burgers, is similarly reasonably priced under $9.
Although one always orders at the outdoor window, Arturo's offers seating indoors as well as at the tables that line the outside of the building. The clean tables provide the perfect spot to enjoy a couple puffy tacos with your friends. Just don't forget to bring cash — Arturo's doesn't take credit or debit cards — or you will be denied the puffy goodness that is Arturo's Puffy Taco.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Food/drink: Mexican food; burgers; horchata; soda
Prices: $3 - $10; Cash only
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
15693 Leffingwell Rd
Whittier, CA 90604