The Location: Lalo's Restaurant 5063 24th Street Sacramento, CA
The Taco: Chicken, Al Pastor, and Carnitas
The Price: $1.25 per taco
The Verdict: You know you are in for an authentic Mexican experience when all the signage outside the restaurant is in Spanish. We walked into this gem at noon on a Saturday. The place was packed! It's a small venue, in a seemingly undesirable part of town, with about 15 tables, most of which seat 6 comfortably. I was pleasantly relieved to find out our server not only speaks Spanish, but perfect English too.
The first thing to arrive at the table is a gigantic bowl of diced onion and cilantro with plenty of lime wedges. Next come two sides of salsa, a green and a yellow-red. The yellow-red salsa turned out to be my favorite. Neither salsas were over the top spicy, but the yellow-red had a bit more kick.
I ordered 4 tacos; 2 chicken, 1 al pastor, and 1 carnitas. I also added a side of rice, just incase the tacos weren't enough. I was amused that the rice arrived with peas and carrots too. It was standard Mexican rice that you'll find at most taquerias. All the tacos arrived with onions, cilantro and a dab red salsa on top. Everything in this restaurant is clearly freshly prepared.
The chicken tacos were small marinated grilled chunks of chicken. I didn't find them to be exceptionally very flavorful. The al pastor had a nice red sauce, possibly adobo, though I don't consider myself an al pastor aficionado. It was very good. However, la crème de la crème are the carnitas! I could have eaten four of just these carnitas tacos. If only I had known! Topped with the extra salsas and fresh squeezed lime juice, it was near perfection. No overly fatty bits of pork and a perfect juicy pork flavor. You can order the meats by the pound with tortillas on the side. I might have to do just that with the carnitas next time.
As a non-taco aside, my better half ordered the Molcajete, which is impressively served in a steaming hot cauldron with tortillas on the side. It's not every day you get to eat cactus.
Overall, an extremely pleasant experience and definitely worth the trip. I'm only deducting a half star because the service wasn't exceptionally fast, it took a long time to get our bill and our entrees for two came out several minutes apart, not served together.
The Rating: ★★★★ ½ (out of 5)