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Tortilla Triumph | Colonia Taco Lounge

Taco guru Ricardo Diaz opens shop in La Puente
Colonia Taco Lounge
Tacos at Colonia Taco Lounge

Ricardo Diaz, the chef behind Whittier's Bizarra Capital and founding partner at Boyle Height's Guisados, has a habit of opening shop in far-flung neighborhoods.

Good thing we'll pursue his soulful Mexican cooking just about anywhere.

Diaz's latest project, Colonia Taco Lounge, is located on a blue-collar stretch of Valley Boulevard in way-out-there La Puente. With a glowing street sign that reads "Guisados & Beer," the stripped-down restaurant and bar announces its business with no pretense.

The chalkboard menu is composed of dozen or so tacos, split into two categories of fillings: guisados, long-braised stews such as chayote succotash ($2.50), spicy pollo tesmole ($3) or braised lamb barbacoa ($4); and caseros, home-style proteins that Diaz roughly describes as "Mexican bachelor food."

A casero taco, for instance, can be made with crispy fried cauliflower ($2.50) slathered in creamy salsa veracruz and lemon vinaigrette, seared queso fresco with bacon and hatch chiles ($3), or smoky Sonora-style skirt steak dressed with raw tomatillo salsa and folded into a flour tortilla imported from Mexicali ($4).

What wonderful variety.

Chile-rimmed Michelada

Behind the bar, Diaz expounds his love of craft beer with a sizable list from local and imported breweries, though cocktails shouldn't be overlooked: Try the #18 ($9), a bracing summer beverage made with gin, cucumber, dill, lime and a splash of soda.

In the land of a thousand tacos, Colonia's ambitious yet traditional bundles are miles ahead of the competition. Can you think of a better excuse to hop in the car?

Colonia Taco Lounge 13030 E. Valley Blvd. La Puente CA 91746 626-363-4691

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