La Vecindad serves tasty tacos daily

by Alex Noble, Staff Writer

La Vecindad, which translates to “The Neighborhood” in English serves excellent Mexico City-inspired cuisine with a friendly community vibe in the heart of Hillcrest.

Located on 5th Ave., the restaurant features many phrases on the wall, one of my favorite mantras “Tacos before Vatos,” always catches my eye.

Now that I’ve actually dined at La Vecindad, I can testify that these tacos are definitely better than any “vato” I know.

Anyone who dines at this restaurant will feel immediately at home. The staff is both warm and attentive, especially the owners, three brothers who are passionate about great food.

Despite its casual “order then sit” format, La Vecindad is a full restaurant with ample seating, including a bar as well as a small outdoor patio despite its deceiving exterior.

The colorful décor complete with hanging flags, orange high-chairs, tables signed by patrons, fun wall art consisting of movie posters and even games creates a lighthearted atmosphere perfect for both family and groups of friends.

The menu has many more options than the average taco shop.

Appetizers, which are priced between $6 and $14, include ceviche, longapapas, Mexican poke and more.

While there are also dishes such as quesadillas and chicken or steak bowls made with rice, black beans, corn, bell peppers, seasoned onions, lettuce, crema fresca, queso fresco, tomato relish and guacamole, it’s all about the tacos here.

There are twelve different variations of tacos, including al pastor, chile relleno and campechano, each priced at $3.75.

Each taco is served with a homemade corn tortilla. La Vecindad also hosts daily specials, including flautas on Mondays, pambazos on Wednesdays, blackened fish tacos on Thursdays, sopes on Fridays and of course, Taco Tuesdays.

Daily specials range from $5 to $9. La Vecindad also serves sweet treats like flan, churros and ice cream, gelatina con yogurt and jicaleta for $5.

There is also an extensive beverage menu boasting a full bar with a  multitude of beers and fun margaritas, if you are 21 or older.

Undeclared freshman Marissa Veis said she enjoyed the papa taco with a quesadilla during her visit to La Vecindad.

The papa taco is a crispy potato taco made with onions, lettuce, crema fresca and jack and cheddar cheese.

“I was surprised how much the taco tasted like French fries but I really liked it,” she said. “It also had a crispier shell, which I usually don’t like but this one tasted great and the quesadilla was good too.”

While I’ve rarely met a chips and guacamole combo that I didn’t like, La Vecindad’s is especially delicious.

The chips are warm and salty and the guacamole is simple yet fresh and there is nothing better than freshly made chips. Of course, no taco shop is complete without a full salsa bar.

I also loved the pollo asado tacos I ordered, which consist of tasty marinated chicken, tomato relish and a generous dollop of that superb guacamole.

Other popular options include the California Taco, which is made with seasoned steak, French fries, pico de gallo and jack and cheddar cheese and the Costa Azul, which is made with bacon-wrapped shrimp, sliced avocado, chipotle aioli, red cabbage and queso fresco.

The prices are a little high for a taco shop, but the servings are generous and  filling, so it seems that customers get their money’s worth.

Tacos are two for $5 on Taco Tuesdays, so I recommend taking advantage of those as well as the other daily specials.

La Vecindad is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday  from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.