Essential T: Colonia Taco Lounge Is Back with New Digs and New Tacos

A first look at chef Ricardo Diaz’s top taco destination in its new Whittier Location

I knew a while back that the Colonia Taco Lounge would likely close. Even for people like us that will drive for great tacos, La Puente is a difficult destination to get to and it’s hard to justify spending $6 on gas when you’re spending the same amount on dinner. But for those that follow the taco life, the one hour round trip creates our version of the fancy three-hour meal. So, when I saw chef Ricardo Diaz post on his Instagram that Colonia Tacos Guisados (the former Colonia Taco Lounge) would be open for lunch this past weekend at their new location just east of the 605 on Whittier Boulevard, I set my GPS for tacos.

Once again, Diaz has flipped a former 7 Mares (The Mexican seafood chain owned by the Diaz family), and this one comes with  drive-thru, which will be activated soon, and a picnic area at the back of the parking lot. For now there’s no beer, but once Diaz opens his own brewery next summer, Whittier Brewing, he’ll give it some thought. The location is a taco lover’s paradise: you can enjoy Diaz’s own brand of Alta California (or contemporary Pocho-syle) tacos on a patio overlooking the street, or get them through the drive-thru and enjoy tacos in the comfort of your ride, or even hold a taco picnic in the back with your crew. It’s brilliant.

On opening day I saw some of the tacos I recalled from my last trip to Colonia Taco Lounge, like the cauliflower and tesmole (a mole from Veracruz), and the doraditos (crispy potato tacos), but settled on beef tongue, mahi-mahi, and duck carnitas, all set on thick, yellow corn tortillas. Tender cubes of tongue come dressed in sriracha mayo, the tempura-battered mahi-mahi in a bacon aioli. Both had a pleasant balance of sweet and savory notes that require no additional salsa, except for maybe Diaz’s dry salsa of seeds and chile de árbol, just like Antojitos Carmen used to make. The duck carnitas come with guacamole, pickled vegetables and a smoky chile morita salsa—the classic condiments of traditional pork carnitas.

It had been a while since I’d had these excellent tacos, which, I thought, was partly due to distance. And then I realized I’ve only gained a one-mile advantage with the move to Whittier. Oh well, the easy freeway access and new drive-thru now make Colonia Tacos Guisados approachable enough to be a regular stop on the taco route.

Colonia Tacos Guisados, 11114 Whittier Bl., Whittier