Mondos Beach Break
377 E. Main St.
One of the best learning beaches for budding surfers is Mondos Beach (between the Solimar and Faria beach colonies). Many surf lessons occur at this strip of beach, and the vibe is always friendly and “chill.” That same laid-back and welcoming attitude also prevails at the newest taco spot on Main Street in downtown Ventura, Mondos Beach Break. This restaurant/emporium offers unique “Surfrider” tacos, burritos, “Beach Munchies” and various other food selections, plus a wide array of surf boards and gear available for purchase.
When I first visited Mondos I was surprised at the fairly small menu: seven specialty tacos, two basic street tacos, five burritos and four unique munchies options; there are also a number of interesting artisanal beer offerings from both Ventura’s Surf Brewery and Poseidon Brewing Company. The location only opened in mid-June, and formally launched on July 4. I know that manager Rex Mason and his two partners have big plans for a vastly larger menu; and the restaurant is not just about food, but also surf gear and companionship.
The two street taco offerings are fairly small: the Little Wave has chicken, steak or pork, and is served with cilantro and onions; at $1.95 this is an easy, inexpensive though not uniquely memorable option. The Big Wave is a little more complex at $3.95 and also includes cabbage (or lettuce) and pico de gallo. As little fillers, these are adequate, but my suggestion is to plunge right in (at $4.25) to the Surfrider tacos (which can be served in a slightly larger handmade corn tortilla or in a lettuce boat or on a bed of lettuce).
The Flying V taco comprises chopped roasted duck, shallots, shredded carrots and is sprinkled with an aromatic hoisin sauce. This is a very unique taste and texture for a street taco, and the earthiness of the duck really gives new meaning to this popular style of quick dining. Along the same lines, one of the crowd favorites (judging by the number of these I’ve seen ordered at other tables) is the barbecue short rib taco, which not only has chopped bits of succulent rib meat but also onion rings, pineapple salsa and Cotija cheese sprinkled on top. Certainly a different kind of taco, but nonetheless a savory, delightful mouthful at each bite.
Some of the other Surfriders tacos I’ve not tried (but that sound interesting) are the “Fire in the Hole”: chicken, stuffed habanero, mango sauce, cilantro, sour cream, cabbage and pico de gallo; “El Dorado”: grilled Mahi Mahi, cabbage, pico de gallo, Cotija cheese and either chipotle or jalapeño crème; “Shrimp Sunrise”: tempura shrimp, spicy mayo, shredded cabbage and avocado.
There are also burrito versions of some of these combinations (called the “Cowabunga”): your taco choice but served as a burrito mixed with cilantro rice. I have tried (and it is delicious) the “Dawn Patrol” burrito: over-easy egg, bacon, cheese, tater tots and pico de gallo. I don’t mind admitting, I have always been a fan of tater tots, and this burrito is a fun and sensationally savory way to prepare a breakfast burrito. Mondos will scramble the eggs if preferred.
The section of the menu called “Beach Munchies” has four very different snacking options. Mondos nachos, which are the specially prepared tortilla chips slathered in melted cheddar, strips of chicken or steak, black olives, guacamole and, of course, pico de gallo and cilantro. This can also be done in a flour tortilla as a quesadilla. There is also the option of “Sexy Rexy Poppers”: jalapeños stuffed with melted cheeses, bacon, a savory sweet spicy mix. For my palate these were not as spicy or bacon-flavored as I might have preferred but they are still a clever and unique variation on the familiar popper theme.
The final item on the “beach munchies” list, and one that sounds interesting but is not necessarily a first-choice order are the PBJ taquitos: peanut butter and jelly spread on corn tortillas, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. An interesting concept, yes, and after the first mouthwatering bite, an item for which you will come back to Mondos. The humorous concept is certainly worthy of a sample; the delectable flavoring is a true culinary smiling face.
Mondos is starting to have specialty nights like Taco Tuesdays (buy one, get one free Little Wave taco), and half-priced tap beers, including Surf Brew Blonde, Poseidon Rye Ale 3, 21 Amendment Hell or High Watermelon, and several others. As previously mentioned the menu is not huge, but is vastly interesting and a different take on the street taco concept. If you, as a surfer, know the welcoming atmosphere at Mondos Beach, you know Mondos Beach Break will satisfy your hunger cravings as well.