Taqueria Zamora – Tacos
3121 S Main St · Santa Ana, CA 92707
A mustached accordion player strolls around the tables, singing in tune with the notes. Traditional music booms from the speakers. A wide area dining hall with flat screens proudly showing recent Canelo victories. Served almost immediately – complimentary fried tortilla chips, as golden as the surrounding walls, paired with a plate of refried beans topped with salty, crumbly Cotija. Small bowls of chile de arbol and roasted salsa verde offer an alternative for dipping, completing the dynamic duo of chips and salsa. All this happens before you even take a glance at the menu.
Zamora does not boast about their tortillas. The menu barely mentions them, other than being hand-made. So it comes as a surprise when you actually see them with your own eyes. A true gem awaits when you order one of Zamora’s tacos. They are larger than any you probably have held in your lifetime!
Pliable, floppy, and as large as pita bread, nearing the size of a burrito, the maize tortillas are as thick as a tablet. The stench of the masa bounces off the walls, reverberating in the room with its inescapable, incomparable aroma. There is absolutely nothing that equals a homemade tortilla, the extra step involved in making the dough and forming it in a press shows dedication and effort. Warmed up softly and toasted lightly, the tortillas wrap around the meat like a blanket cuddling up a newborn child.
Classics like carne asada, pork carnitas, and pollo are listed. There are also taqueria standards like pastor, chorizo, and lengua. Additionally, Zamora features birria as well as pollo asado diablo on their taco team. All tacos are automatically topped with a bunch of chopped cilantro and diced onions and served with fresh lime wedges and sliced raw radishes.
Carnitas are the absolute best. Slick and juicy, the shredded pork is salted just right and is the perfect match for the tortilla. Al Pastor rocks it as well, the spices penetrating the meat perfectly and coming through with every bite. Each piece has excellent char and makes you wanting more. Zamora’s version omits any pineapple bits, so the piquant from the chilies is more apparent. And you can’t go wrong with carne asada beef.
Birria is a slow-cooked dish not commonly found everywhere. The goat gets seasoned in adobo spices and stewed for hours, resulting in tender meat. The goat’s robustness is evident in the birria. Unfortunately on this visit there were still bones hidden among the chunks of meat, a ghastly feeling biting into a taco expecting nothing but protein. Looking past the inconvenience, the birria is still worth a try.
Browsing the menu at first, 2.45 per taco might seem a tad pricey; pollo asado a la diabla (devil style chicken) tacos are a bit more at 3.20. But once you see how huge these handheld buddies are, you will see the true value in them. Bigger than nearly all street tacos out there, Zamora’s tacos are legit and on-point. Packed with a serious serving of meat that matches the gargantuan size of the tortilla, these tacos are filling and more than worth the cost. Three of these babies is more than enough for a hearty, homemade meal.
Santa Ana is a hotbed for traditional, authentic Mexican food and Taqueria Zamora makes it right, from the chips to the beans, the salsa to the tacos. The spiciness from the salsa and meats lingers around, dancing on your taste buds long after the meal, like a little devil hanging around long after the fiesta is over.