“Because it was there”…That might be the answer to why George Mallory decided to scale Mt. Everest, and it was also the reason I indulged in Taqueria Franc at 2 AM. My stomach clearly didn’t need more food after gut-busting feasts at La Palmera and Sonora Mia. Mallory never conquered Everest, but my stomach outlasted a particularly popular Tijuana taqueria.
For the past 11 years, Francisco “Franc” Javier has owned the perpetually packed open-air restaurant that resides down the street from Mercado Hidalgo. Order from a wall-hanging menu, with most items costing between 15 and 30 pesos, a pittance for high-quality tacos, mulitas or quesadillas. Skillful taqueros man multiple stations, and no matter what you prefer, expect expedited full-service.
Franc specializes in adobada, spit-roasted pork seasoned with achiote and chile de arbol, to name just two ingredients. Unlike pastor, there’s no sweet element like pineapple in adobada, so you should expect more chile heat.
The adobada taco features a grease-griddled corn tortilla, shawarma-like pork shavings, a spicy chile-rich salsa, diced onions, cilantro and cooling guacamole. Getting your taco “con todo” pretty much drowns out the flavor of the spice-soaked pork, but it makes for a fairly well balanced taco experience.
Carne asada is another Taqueria Franc specialty, but the mix of chopped cow parts wasn’t as well spiced or dynamic as the adobada. It was also much fattier.
The adobada indicated that Taqueria Franc warrants a return visit in broad daylight, before my stomach is bursting at the seams from pescado sarandeado and arrachera.