GENERAL COMMENT: In my way of looking at life, there are two kinds of taco joints, authentic and gringo. The best of the authentic ones usually have a regional aspect, and some special feature that draws in the Latino crowd. Benny’s is the other kind — a gringo joint. But that’s not necessarily bad.
WHERE: 427 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, Calif., 90291, (310) 396-8749.
WHEN: Seven days a week, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
BEST DISHES: That’s the interesting thing about Benny’s Tacos. The tacos are excellent because the chicken in them consists of big chunks of delicious fresh rotisserie chicken, instead of the usual shredded “yesterday” chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and other filler in most tacos. In fact the best dish is the rotisserie chicken. But the standout star here is the fresh house-made tortillas. These are definitely not authentic, and are much better than the tortillas in any other taco joint around.
BEST FEATURE: Good parking, super friendly service with the boss right there.
WORST FEATURE: Where’s the hot sauce? This hot sauce is for wimps. And what’s with the chile relleno? It’s stuffed with the wrong kind of cheese that doesn’t melt no matter how hot you cook it.
WHAT TO DRINK: I wanted a beer. But then I always want a beer or two when I’m eating Mexican food. Our overly cautious Coastal Commission is holding up Benny’s license. Everyone should write a letter of protest. So I had a horchata, the Mexican rice-based drink, and it’s really good. In fact there are a lot of tasty and unusual drinks here.
PRICES: Don’t even worry about it. You need a really big appetite to spend $10 here for a meal with drink.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a gringo taco joint with unusually fresh, delicious food that’s the American version of Mexican food. Bring your own hot sauce.
Merv Hecht, the food and wine critic for the Santa Monica Daily Press, is a wine buyer and consultant to a number of national and international food and wine companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org