Corrales is a two-stand mini-chain on the artery of Thompson Boulevard in Ventura, California, serving such Mexican favorites as tacos and burritos. Here, too, you find the uniquely Venturan specialty, corn burritos, which are an icon of Cali-Mex fast food.
Corn burritos are basically bean taquitos. Traditionally they are served smothered with hot sauce and cheese. At first, bean taquitos might not sound that exciting, but the genius of the dish is that they’re basically nachos that eat less sloppily and deliver perfect bean to crunchy tortilla ratio in every bite. The cheese melts more evenly over taquitos than it does over a haphazard pile of tortilla triangles. Ventura loves corn burritos; most fast food restaurants and taquerias here serve them. Even the Ventura location of the frosty chain, Foster’s Freeze, serves them.
We like the corn burritos at Corrales because they are covered with warm enchilada sauce. This turns the taquitos into something like a plate of deep fried bean enchiladas. If you eat them quickly, while they’re still crunchy, they make one of our favorite Mexican snacks in the state. If you take them down the road, we get suggest getting the sauce on the side for dipping instead.
Besides being a stalwart fryer of corn burritos, Corrales makes quality normal burritos in both breakfast and lunch varieties. The breakfast burritos boast fluffy pan cooked eggs and bacon so well rendered that it has a chicharones crunch. If ordering potatoes, you get little cubes, which don’t have the crunch and binding advantages of hash browns. Overall the breakfast burritos at Corrales are good enough to satisfy cravings, even if not the best we’ve had.
Our favorite non-corn burrito is the chile colorado. It features pork that has been stewed until it’s completely broken down into threads with a thick red chile sauce. The stew is spicy and doesn’t add much liquid to the burritos. All burritos (even the corn ones) go really well with Corrales salsa, which is a thick, spicy, well-chilled puree of tomatoes and chiles. It really hugs the burrito as you bite it.
If you prefer tacos, you won’t be let down at Corrales. Crunchy tacos are true examples of the pre-Taco Bell hard shell style popular across Southern California. This means a garnish of lots of shredded cheddar, a fistful of shredded iceberg lettuce, and a single slice of tomato. Corrales does a good job keeping the moisture in the peppery tender chicken meat so the taco structure doesn’t weaken from the juices.
Soft tacos are done like street tacos, but with zesty pico de gallo instead of the traditional onion and cilantro garnish. Carne asada is very tender and tastes like Lawry’s seasoning salt. We like them in spite of their lack of adherence to taco flavor norms.