It isn’t often I will drive to LA County for lunch, but I make an exception this time. Technically, I didn’t drive, my friend did. I had heard about Amor Y Tacos from Gayot food writer, Rich Manning and since then have heard from various others about how incredible the food is. So, when I mention this to another food-loving friend (okay, ALL my friends love food), she offers to drive us to Cerritos to try them out.
The restaurant is tucked within a strip mall, but once inside, is bustling with energy and rustic decor. Our server Melissa is a bundle of energy and an absolute delight.
The house-made tortilla chips are incredibly addicting. Pair that with the stunning salsa and you’ll end up eating more than you should. I suggest saving some room for the delicious fare that follows.
We begin with Mole Tots ($8.50), a decadent bowl of crispy potato tots topped with a 21-ingredient house made Amor mole sauce. If that’s not enough, queso fresco, cilantro, red onion and sour cream accompany. If you have been following me for a while, you’ll know I’m not a big mole fan. However, I’m not a fan of badly made mole sauce. The one here is impressive without any of the bitterness or overly sweet finish I dislike about mole.
Those of you who complain about this cultivar need to just stop. When it is prepared well, I can’t get enough of it. Charred Brussels Sprouts ($9) is a must order, as it is perfectly cooked with a sprinkling of cotija and squeeze of lime juice. I didn’t need any of the accompanying roasted garlic aioli, even though it was very tasty. Instead, we dip the tortilla chips into the aioli and eat it this way.
Ahi Poke Taco ($12) appears on so many menus these days, but we want to try these to see how they compare to the rest. The size makes them easy to bite into, and the combination of roasted corn chimichurri , guacamole, wasabi crema come together in perfect harmony. I would have liked a tad less sesame oil in the vinaigrette, but still very delicious.
The first thing I see on the menu is Elote Man Corn ($7) and you all know how much I love corn on the cob. If you only order one thing at Amor Y Tacos, make it the elote. The quintessential Mexican street food, the roasted corn on the cob is slathered with mayo, then topped with cotija, chile powder and cilantro. Ask for some lime to squeeze over for that salty tart I so love.
Of course, Chile Limon Chapulines ($5) factor in to my meal when I see it. My friend is squeamish about the grasshoppers, but I was munching on the crispy goodness one after another. I insist my friend try one, but she is afraid to pick one up, so I tell her to close her eyes and open her mouth. Yes, I threw one into her gaping mouth. These are better than the ones at La Guelaguetza in LA — so much flavor and not overly salted.
If you are a taco fan, you must try the ones here. For $10, you get three good-sized street tacos. While I am not a big fan of Short Rib, it is good. My friend relished this with delight. The flavors are complex, with burnt habanero crema adding a little heat, a hint of sweetness from the carmelized onions and some tartness from the pickled radishes.
I, on the other hand, prefer Al Pastor over the short rib. The pork is juicy, tender and the whole thing is succulent and packed with flavor. The charred pineapple adds a touch of sweetness and the avocado salsa, a level of richness.
For a different take on a burger, check out Amor Chile Relleno Burger ($13.50) using a pattie of a special blend of ground Angus, short rib, brisket and sirloin. Topped with chile relleno de queso, red leaf lettuce, tomato, onion jam, garlic mayo on a brioche bun. It is decadent and totally worth it if you love burgers.
Rich Manning is spot on when he gushes over Amor Y Tacos — and rightfully so! The menu is stellar and reflects Mexican food at its best, with modern flair that does not intrude on the authenticity of the ingredients or taste. Indeed a highly respectable find!
Amor Y Tacos
13333 South Street
Cerritos, CA 90703