Tirsa’s, located just outside the sprawl of downtown, is a casual Mexican restaurant with personality. Note, this isn’t that charming-fixer-upper-for-sale personality, it’s a little more like custard-stuffed-Churro personality. I’ll always defend my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants; homestyle cuisine at a low price is a penchant for any food lover. Tirsa’s elevates that notion with a menu that nails the comfort foods and humbly expands upon them.
In case you were wondering about those churros… As Teri Hatcher said in Seinfeld, they’re real, and they’re spectacular.
Coming up on their 1 year celebration, Tirsa’s is a short walk from my office across the 101 freeway. Papel picado banners adorn the ceiling, and a cheerful mural of a waitress with a plateful of tacos is flanked by multicolored roses. The eclectic decor is punctuated with a paper word cutout, appropriately stating: “Let’s Fiesta Bitches.” I can’t decide if the sentence is more basic or hilarious.
My first choice was the fajita burrito, which was sadly sold out at the time, surely begging the inevitable question of which part of it was sold out. The staff was very patient and accommodating and so I did not feel crude enough to ask. I hurriedly identified the fish tacos as my backup order, and later understood perhaps why my original order was sold out: homestyle food means homestyle portions.
Food: Two “Baja T” fish tacos ($3.50 each or 2/$5 for very similar on Wednesdays) were surprisingly filling. As I was explicitly warned by the cashier, the tacos were on the large side with a full fish filet on each taco. Given my last order here, which was the heroic, full plate serving of their carne asada fries (“LA Fryz”, $10) as well as the thicker-cut chips, this serving was perfect. The filet was not overly oily, not overly fishy, and not overly saucy. A splash of lime juice with the sour cream and fresh onion and tomato was offset texturally by the crunch of the fish, which was a decent size itself without an excess of meat. The omission of tartar sauce should also be a standard for a decent fish taco; like A1 on steak, you really shouldn’t need it. The Baja T serves as a reminder of how exceptional the fish taco can be, and why it exists in the first place. It’s enough to set you on a binge, thinking to yourself, “why don’t I do this more often?” as you inexplicably order every fish taco you can find for the next few weeks. If you do, I’m confident this one will measure up.
Appreciation: the playful diner-feel logo and colorful decor, the burst of flavor in the first bite and audible crunch of the fish, and the churros, which are every bit as tasty as you can imagine.