Cabazon is a travelers’ oasis for all sorts of reasons, including date shakes at Hadley Fruit Orchards and the goofy Cabazon Dinosaurs seen in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” It’s also the site of the gargantuan Morongo outlets and casino buffets that brashly cry for attention with billboard offers. Tucked away near the Morongo Reservation is Crazy Coyote Tacos — reason enough to pull off the Cabazon exit of I-10 into what is actually a city called Banning.
The thing to order is the giant taco, which is a large soft one built on a fresh corn tortilla filled with the meat of your choice, jack cheese, onions, cilantro, salsa, and creamy guacamole. All the ingredients are well executed, but it’s the taco’s construction that makes it special. The tortilla is boldly thick but remains pliable and the cheese is melted on like a quesadilla before the taco is assembled.
These giant tacos aren’t anything like a typical or authentic Mexican Californian taco, but they are mighty tasty. We advise getting one as part of a plate, which includes good rice and beans that are aggressively seasoned. The rice is especially noteworthy. It is bright orange and has the resistant texture that well cooked rice needs. The beans are spicy and taste faintly of tropical fruit.
Salsas here are not for beginners. Mild is full-force jalapeño; hot is Jamaican- strength habanero. We really love hot stuff, so we always get a side of extra hot ghost chili salsa. This dark potion is simply one of the best hot sauces we’ve tasted: slightly smoked and rich with ghost pepper flavor. It bites hard, though. If you’re not experienced with ghost peppers, be warned: they go right for the back of your throat.
Burritos at Crazy Coyote Tacos are worth trying too. The humble bean and cheese gets a big lift from the complexity of their fruity, spicy beans. Strangely, meat burritos come standard with rice rather than beans. You can substitute or add beans, but after trying the chile verde burrito their way, with only orange rice, cheese, sour cream and fiery salsa, we decided that they know best. The rice-based burrito absorbs the chile verde liquid nicely, so the burrito eats clean.
Audacious choices and bold flavors reflect cooking that is more concerned with making what is good than making what is correct. This is a family stand with integrity. When we were running through our usual order, we decided to try something new and asked about the taquitos. The person shrugged and said, “You should get something else, to be honest. They’re only thing we don’t make here from scratch.”