In the north end of Orange County lies the beautiful city of Fullerton. While this opinion may be slightly skewed since I’ve lived here for more than half my life, Fullerton really is pretty. This time of year the Jacarandas are in full bloom so Downtown Fullerton looks extra gorgeous with all the purple trees against the old historic buildings. Slidebar is one of those buildings and is filled with musical history from OC. Memorabilia from tons of huge rock bands pepper the walls and give the place a cool vibe.
122 E Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832
I was lucky to get invited to a tasting of Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce and Slidebar’s Cali Bandito Taco. Quick music/history lesson which will tie this all together: Slidebar is owned by Lit guitarist Jeremy Popoff (Fullerton native) and Gringo Bandito was started by Dexter Holland, lead singer from Huntington Beach’s own The Offspring. This taco and hot sauce event was the ultimate alt rock collaboration!
As a millennial myself, I am guilty of having blasted Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” many times during my junior high years. YouTube it, the memories will come to you too. Now that you understand how these two came together let me discuss what you came here for: TACOS. Delicious, tasty, juicy tacos. Don’t let the hot sauce scare you, I struggle to consume Hot Cheetos due to their taste, but this particular red hot sauce was just amazing. Add this hot sauce to the gem that is a taco and well, you’ve got a great little party in your mouth. This taco is a new take on a California burrito with some of Gringo Bandito Original Red Sauce.
During the tasting Slidebar paired the tacos with Modern Times’ Booming Rollers IPA. This beer was light and hoppy with tons of summery citrusy flavors, perfect for the spicy bites!
My taco was a special one since I do not consume meat. Upon looking at my taco, a few people around me were giving my taco some extremely longing looks. It’s like they never knew they could want a veggie taco so bad in their life, but yet here they were… wanting one desperately. When Chef Brandon LaGrone came over to the table and explained the veggie substitution of Portobello mushrooms rather than tofu, I felt I was in good hands (Allstate style).
Here’s the part where I geek-out like crazy, being a taco lover: I know the texture of ingredients can make or break a taco. Choosing the mushrooms over tofu changes the overall feel and stays true to the origins of the California burrito. Given that there are potatoes in the taco, the tofu would’ve just been another smooshy ingredient, but the hot sauce braised Portobello mushrooms and the fries inside worked perfectly. Caramelized onions, fresh avocado and a light sour cream joined the veggies inside fresh warm handmade tortilla hug.
The tortilla honestly deserves an article of its own. I’m personally more of a flour tortilla kind of gal but these maize babies really were something else. As I tried to eat my tacos in a non-scarffing manner, a deep thought did go through my head: if the veggie option was so tasty and juicy, it’s very reasonable to believe the meat option being just as good (if you’re into the whole beef thing, I guess).
Multiple grunts from my Cali Bandito Tacos eating photographer added legitimacy to my thought. He tried both tacos and was having a complete Sophie’s Choice kind of moment when I asked him to pick between the carne asada and the veggie option. But, just to show the power of the veggie: all four people at my table requested a veggie taco after seeing mine and the joy it brought me!
Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce came from a rockstar’s love of hot sauce and you can tell by the firey flavor. I look forward to strolling through Downtown Fullerton to get myself more of these tacos.