Dining

Nacho Average Nachos

Amor y Tacos Cantina gets playful with Mexican-American bar food
Amor y Tacos
Oaxacan molé with chicken | Taquitos (Photos: Amor y Tacos)

Oaxacan molé tater tots. Doritos chilaquiles. Mexican Coke-glazed pork belly.

At Amor y Tacos, chef Thomas Ortega isn't restrained by tradition.

Located in suburban strip mall near Cerritos, an area whose culinary options are often split between strip mall dives and chain restaurants, Ortega's hip luchadore-themed cantina offers something decidedly different.

Like most Mexican restaurants, your meal might begin with chips, salsa and a margarita--but that's where the similarities end.

As with Ortega's popular Redondo Beach restaurant, Ortega 120, Amor y Tacos jumps deftly between cultures, serving the type of elevated Mexican-American drinking food that could only exist in SoCal: an oversized "Doyer Dog" ($11) stuffed with short rib chile colorado and curls of chicharon, a two-fisted burger ($14) topped with fried chile relleño and tomato-onion jam and cabbage-covered fried fish tacos ($13) made with Modelo-spiked batter and fresh tortillas.

Chef Ortega plating tacos (Photos: Amor y Tacos)
Don't neglect the humble "Elote Man" corn ($7) prepared in the classic street-cart style: We stripped the charred ears rubbed with mayo, cotija, chile powder and cilantro for every last kernel.

As for those zesty Doritos chilaquiles ($12)--topped with a fried egg and sour cream--they're the most popular item on the menu, which bodes well for Ortega's offbeat creativity.

Paired with a chile-rimmed Michelada, it's the hangover brunch of our dreams.

Amor y Tacos 13333 South St. Cerritos CA 90703 562-860-2667

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