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Monday, February 27, 2017

West Coast Vibin’ at The Crack Shack: Where Gov’t Taco Research meets Fried Chicken

by Aimee Tortorich

In January I had the pleasure of heading back to San Diego after over 4 years being away.  The reason? Taco research. With the upcoming opening of Gov’t Taco, I wanted to check out what the West Coast was up to in the food scene. Let me tell you, they still got it going on!

We tried everything from traditional Mexican to modern American tacos, but eating tacos for 16 straight meals gets a little monotonous, so we headed to a few different restaurants for inspiration.

One of the coolest places we went was The Crack Shack, Richard Blais’s new restaurant known for their chicken and eggs. Free-range and local fried chicken and eggs are served in a fast casual restaurant with a true Southern California laid-back vibe. Surrounded by bocce and frequented by any and all, including happy dogs, it was a nice start to a great research trip.

We arrived the morning around 9 am on a weekday, so we never had to wait in line. (Word of caution, if going on the weekend, be prepared to wait for this crack.)
After discussing the menu options, which are located on the wall next to the ordering counter, we decided to try an assortment of delectable offerings.


Chicken Lollipops


Togarashi and Lemon
Togarashi and Lemon

Perfectly fried and whimsical to the eye, these beauties were laced with a little Japanese spice mixture known as tōgarashi, which added a nice heat and citrus flavor.  Definitely a winner on my list, I would go back for more all day, everyday.


Border Slaw


Papaya, Mango, Jicama, Coconut, Chili, Pineapple
Papaya, Mango, Jicama, Coconut, Chili, Pineapple

The border slaw was a nice variation of traditional southern slaw. The freshness of the fruit mixed with the textual crunch of the elements didn’t disappoint. Good as a palate cleanser or an option for the health-conscious, this slaw would definitely go great on any seafood taco.


Mini Biscuits


Miso-Maple Butter
Miso-Maple Butter

These little beauties were top of the line in the biscuit world. Delicate, buttery and served with miso maple butter, I had my fair share and “maybe” overindulged. Chicken and biscuit taco anyone????


Chicken Oysters


Pickle Brine, Meyer Lemon, Mustard Seed Tartar
Pickle Brine, Meyer Lemon, Mustard Seed Tartar

Any chef will tell you that the best part of a chicken is the chicken oyster. These tiny dark meat jewels come right off the backbone at the thigh and are super tender and juicy.  It’s no surprise that Richard Blais would put these prized bits on the menu. Pickle brined, fried and served with fried kale and mustard seed tartar, these were a great appetizer and made for a great chicken biscuit!


The Condiments

From bottom left to right: Baja Hot Sauce, Cracksup, Kimchi BBQ, Vadouvan Mustard, Chimichurri and Ranch
From bottom left to right: Baja Hot Sauce, Cracksup, Kimchi BBQ, Vadouvan Mustard, Chimichurri and Ranch

These house-made sauces were definitely a huge inspiration for Gov’t Taco. Offering 6 different options, these sauces hit all the notes from sweet to spicy to tangy. My favorite was the mustard, which was sweet and had notes of curry. It was a great dipping sauce and would be an interesting component for tacos.