Culver City’s Baja-inspired Loqui is the only place in town where I can get a carne asada taco cooked on mesquite, sip a glass of wine from the Valle de Guadalupe’s Emevé vineyard, and get Ensenada’s Wendlandt craft beer on tap. I’m in heaven, but then, I’m a Mexican food expert. For the rest of the world, Loqui and its menu terminology have proved more than a little confusing. So, here’s my guide to getting what you want at L.A.’s coolest new taqueria.
“Is this a taco shop?” asks a woman with a strained expression. Her answer is a five-minute explanation of the Loqui menu. All you need to know is that tacos here are called primos, and they’re outstanding. Plan on ordering a pair of tacos per person and come back for more if you’re still hungry. The tacos themselves have a construction that’s a dead ringer for the famous Tacos El Yaqui in Rosarito: a flour tortilla (I’ll get to that) with melted cheese, pot beans, guacamole, a salsa of chile guajillo and chile de arbol, onions and cilantro. The filling options are few, but plenty: chopped steak, barbecued chicken in an adobo marinade, and mushroom.
I witnessed the following exchange more than once: “Do you have that chips, salsa and guacamole thing?” “Yes, they are the totopos” “Okay, I’ll have the to-to, yeah, the chips, guac thing.” So, for the record, totopos are chips. Got it?
I inquired about the molcajete, which in Mexico is either a raw seafood preparation in a mortar and pestle made from vesicular basalt, or a mix of meats, vegetables and cheese cooked in the mortar and pestle. Loqui’s molcajete is a recyclable bowl filled with rice, beans, your choice of meat, guacamole, salsa, and a sprinkle of cilantro and dry cheese—so not really a molcajete. It’s a bowl.
You can get corn tortillas here, but you should go for flour. Co-chef-owner Cameron Wallace, an alumnus of Tartine Bakery, hand rolls the sourdough-based flour tortillas constantly and cooks them to order. They’re amazing.
Forget the menu and just focus on the protein: carne asada, chicken, and mushrooms, and put it in a taco or bowl. All that’s left are quesadillas (you got this) and then damn all convention and just ask for chips, salsa and guacamole and feel the weight of the world lifted off of your shoulders. It’s just dinner, after all.
Loqui, 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City