Alambron Tacos y Guisados: My Dad & Tijuana Airport Food (Live-Blogging)

I never really realized but my father, little sister and I have kept an unofficial tradition of going back to Mexico City every summer for the last four years. The reason? To persuade my dad’s friend Don Aurelio to maintain the remnants of his lost empire for yet another year, a couple of dingy apartment structures in the ghetto Ahuizotla region of town. And although I can’t really get past even a single conversation with him without blowing his dynamite short temper, he always decides to bring me back with him for some reason. In his defense, he is 70 years old and is always right anyways.

Anyways, so this year is the first that we flew out from an airport other than L.A.X. Tijuana International Airport to be exact. Oh, how exciting! A bonus round of delicious authentic Mexican food! After all, we all know that Tijuana is no joke when it comes to good food and drinks thanks to the relentless documentation of it that Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA has done recently. Well, yeah…but not so much when you come with an overly paranoid father who deems it absolutely necessary to check in no later than noon for a flight that takes off at seven in the afternoon.

My poker-head brother has been rubbing off on me. The guy plays online poker for entire days sometimes. Although I’m not as addicted as he is, I did find myself killing a fair amount of time on pokerblog.com, this new internet café that is pretty cool.

We took the first “Crucero” bus (8 AM) out of L.A and way sooner than later we found ourselves at the airport and hungry for some lunch. My mind was lucid with suggestions for lunch, perhaps some Aguachile de Callos de Hacha (raw scallops in a green spicy sauce) from Mariscos Ruben? Maybe a quick torta to go from the famous Tortas “WashMobile” that I’ve read so much about? With six hot and humid hours to kill, in true parent fashion…my dad would say otherwise.

menu signange

My sister and I walked up and down the tiny Tijuana airport terminal desperately. Anything that wasn’t cold and refrigerated between two pieces of soggy bread would suffice. We eventually went with the only place that had any aroma at all coming out of it, Alambron Tacos Y Guisados.

salsa bar

Alambron ambiance

A display counter filled with a golden brown taco strata and a huge sign bearing “Barra de Salsas” couldn’t be wrong, right? Score! And there it was on the menu, the Tijuana exclusive, highly elusive Tacos De Marlin.

tacos de marlin

The one food that I miss most from our local frontera town is smoked marlin. The meaty big fish is smoked, sold in chunks then usually rehashed with tomatoes, onions and spices. You can’t really get it in the U.S unless you smuggle it in yourself but in Tijuana it is an just another average taco filling. Lucky!

The order here came with three griddled, grease-slicked beauties and a delicate salad of chopped iceberg lettuce, peeled cucumber and a zesty creamy aderezo (dressing). Combined with the all-you-can-suffer salsa bar’s accoutrements of chunky green, red salsas and the brined purple onion-habanero slaw…like my compa chuy would say “amanos chikiadoooo!” The tacos were bomb as expected, imagine a peppery bacon if it was made of fish.

An honorable mention goes out to my dad’s Lengua en Salsa Verde guisado dish, probably the best tongue dish I’ve had thus far in my life when I think about it. It was as tender as braised short rib. My little sister’s Tortitas de Carne con Nopales were not bad either. The tiny, egg cakes whipped with shredded beef were meaty, stewed with sour cactus strips and a surprisingly delicious red chile concoction it was downright impressive. The overall excellence of the meal was aided by the tall stack of steaming tortillas, al-dente rice and wonderfully seasoned paste of beans that come with every plate, “aqui si te dan tortillas a llenar, no como en Los Angeles que no mas te dan hay lo que sea”. Yeah dad I can tell you liked it; you finished my sister’s plate too!

Tortitas de Carne at Alambron
Tortitas De Carne con Nopales at Alambron
lengua en chile verde
The Lengua Plate is Killer at Alambron Too

The only downside is that this little place is at an airport; the food for all three of us came out to nearly thirty bucks! Leave it to a random restaurant at the Tijuana airport to show up most Los Angeles Mexican food as a whole and to prove to me yet again that my dad is always right.

pops
The Pops

Tijuana International Airport
Carretera Internacional
Tijuana Baja California
Zip code 22300

Tonight! My O.G-Eastside Graffiti Older Brother Featured in “No Biters Allowed” at Crewest Gallery

wb.NBA.FRONT

So apparently, alternative forms of artistry runs in my family. My older brother, Rojelio Cabral, will have some of his work featured in tonight’s show called “No Biter’s Allowed” at Crewest Gallery. My brother is credited with being one of the first writers to hit up in the “heavens” back in 1985, that is, the freeway overpasses along San Gabriel Valley and all of Eastern Los Angeles. He is the founding member of FB and one of the founding members of UTI.


He also pretty much shaped who I am now, basically being the raw benefactor responsible for my blog through out the early years (2006-2008).

His work exhibited tonight was directly inspired by the late Chicago 80’s Hardcore band “Life Sentence” and the angst of growing up between the graffiti and punk-rock worlds during that influential phase of Los Angeles graffiti.

“Its not in retaliation to MOCA’s current graffiti show but it is a comment on it” he tells me over a dinner of my mom’s rice and lentejas last night.

wb.NBA.back2

So come down tonight if you can and support another Cabral boy who has made a difference in L.A!

PS. The pho at Blossom restaurant down the street are is actually not that bad and the wine list at Pete’s Cafe (a block away) is even better!

New Beginnings, My Epic Saveur Zacatecas Piece Featured In May Issue & Writing About Food/Punk Rock For OC Weekly

I Am Here

So, it has been an absolutely RELENTLESS last month for me.

To start off, I have recently experienced some pretty antagonistic life realizations lately. Well, I will just say I underestimated the imminent reality of transience in life. Things that once were, will not always be. “Con tiempo…todo se acaba, nada es eterno en el mundo, ni teniendo un corazon, que tanto siente suspira por la vida y el amor” (Antonio Aguilar). But I can not let that stop me in my tracks now, not after all I have accomplished…on my own.

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A Prickly Pear Blossoms No Matter What (photo courtesy of Foto Martien on Flickr)

Like countless rancheras, punk rock anthems, gangster veteranos and Descartes have told me, one must “Conquer yourself, rather than the world [homie]”. Alcabo, “uno viene a este mundo solito, y pues, mejor ser solito que mal acompañado. Asi no me meto en compromisos, ni me dejan mal parados.”

Nonetheless, I am happy to say I am finally taking school seriously again, yup, twelve units of educational hell at Pasadena City College. Finally tackling the general ed. classes that I put off for so long, so if anyone out there wants to tutor me in math, feel free to drop me a line because I need the help. And whatever already, I am majoring in Journalism/Communication and will transfer to USC, there I finally made up my mind.

Also, proud to say I now happily call Gustavo Arellano mi jefe! Yup, the fellow Zacatecano, life mentor, role model who writes “Ask A Mexican” is now my editor. I scored this sweeeet (yes, even if unpaid) Internship at OC Weekly in Costa Mesa. Got my own pinche cubicle and everything! Ahh raaaza! As if it couldn’t get any better, I cover food and punk rock events. Thank you universe for smiling at me. I just finished writing my first print “weekend pick” for their calendar section on the freaking Dickies and Adolescents show next week in Long Beach. I will also be covering shows too, so its going to be nice to write about my first love in life too. I am already covering the Punk Rock Picnic and PUNK ROCK BOWLING FESTIVAL IN VEGAS!).

Here is a rundown of the food pieces I have written for them so far:

Announcing Stick A Fork In It’s First Intern: Javier Cabral, a.k.a. The Glutster!

Free Tickets to Aquarium of the Pacific This Saturday for First 100 People Who Dress ‘Cheesy’

What NOT to Do While Recording a Cable TV Food Show (and How to Score One Yourself!)

‘I Used to Be a Vegan’ by Zion I & the Grouch: Vegan Underground Rap, Yo!

Suffice to say, this new schedule is bad ass, and my energy, passion for it is not going anywhere. Even if I have to drive all the way to Costa Mesa and then back to P.C.C for a night class on the same day, yes that is almost a four hour commute by the way. Umm, unfortunately, I can not say the same for my wallet and ass; $20 a day and numbing.

Also, I am freelancing (unpaid again) for The Alhambra Source, so be on the lookout out for them. Here is an article I have written for them already.

From high school misfit to The Glutster, via Wahib’s

And now for the biggest news! *fast punk rock drumroll with base drum please….

I have finally finished the my epic piece for Saveur Magazine!. The Mijos Journey will be out on newsstands across the world in the last weeks of April and whole month of May! Extremely happy to say that I worked my ass off for a to compile a 4000+ word narrative on visiting the beloved ranchitos of my parents beautiful home state of Zacatecas for the first time. It was a journey of getting to know my roots through food, it comes complete with 20+ family rancho recipes, including, are you ready? My mom’s world famous Menudo (as made famous on the Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern: Los Angeles). All this, within a week and a half.

todd snapping quesadilla
Saveur Executive Food Editor Todd Coleman Snapping Away At My Mom’s Enchiladas

This piece is a huge milestone for not only myself but for my family, to painstakingly distill the ancestral recipes of my deep rancho roots and have them up there with the other great cuisine in the world is a life accomplishment for me. Saveur flew my mother and I out to Zacatecas last year and issued us one of the best food photographers in the world to come along for about a week…it was a turning point. I still can’t still quite fathom everything is actually happening. This will also help to finally show my family better understand what it is exactly that I do in my career, and it is not “just me on the computer.”

la familia
My Mom, My Aunt Marta and My Tia Margarita: Making Cheese in La Yerbabuena

I am planning on having a “Reading Party” somewhere so stay tuned to find out where, thank you all for reading me and inspiring me to keep on going. Salud!