Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This is the end, beautiful friend.

Well my friends, I’m throwing in the tortilla. It was fun and it was new and it was all that. But I’ve realized for some time now that I don’t have it in me anymore. Taco blogging is a young man’s game. The taco scene has been changing so fast in LA and I no longer have my pulse on it (if I ever did). And I don’t have it in me for a third-act.

I was driving around LA the other night and I realized it. I was looking for a taco truck I think. Or maybe I was looking for something else. On the radio was The Beatles “Oh! Darling”, and I was in East LA; a city I have grown to love and a city that has grown to love me. We have grown to love you El Bandini? Ha! How preposterous! The city does not love. The city is just like that lightning bolt that came from the sky the other night that destroyed that poor woman’s roof. The city is indifferent to love. The city is just the new wilderness.

Well, I was in this new wilderness, and I found myself unable to get out of my car. I just drove and drove and I passed taco truck after taco truck. I wanted to get out of my car, pull out my camera, and get back into the game, but I couldn’t. I got an eerie feeling and I felt strange and lonely. I had lost my taco mojo.I felt uneasy about the darkness and the shapes that formed the city. It was as if the city had finally figured me out. I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. I left El Bandini at the corner of City Terrace and Pomeroy St and drove home.

This was several months ago. I thought the mojo might come back, but it hasn’t. So rather than just go quiet, I thought it was best to tell anyone who still reads the blog that there will be no more updates.

So, thanks to everyone who read the blog over the years. Thanks to my friend Shelby Lewis. And most of all thanks to all the taco truck workers and taqueros out there that work so hard.

Oh, and one more thing – fuck you Taco Bell!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Taco of the Year- Mariscos Jalisco Shrimp Taco


My taco reporting has been less than prolific this year. So, when thinking about naming the 2012 Taco of the Year, I had to look to the past. And the shrimp taco at Mariscos Jalisco immediately came to mind. On a recent trip to the legendary East LA truck I devoured a plate of shrimp tacos and was amazed at how consistently great they have been over the years.

The taco hails from the Jalisco town of San Juan de Los Lagos, but it’s a secret recipe. There are some other mariscos trucks in East LA that sell a version of it, but they don’t match up to Mariscos Jalisco.

The taco is comprised of a deep fried taco shell filled with shrimp, topped with slices of avocado and then dunked into a delicious tomato broth. It’s hard to explain how good this taco is.

Mariscos Jalisco’s shrimp taco is the 2012 Taco of the Year!

Mariscos Jalisco 3040 East Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90023 $1.75n per taco

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Henry's Tacos to Close for Good

photo: LA Observed

Well this is bad news. It looks like Henry's Tacos will shutter this month for good. A taco stand loved by locals and non-locals alike, Henry's has been serving some of the best "gringo" style tacos in LA for over 50 years. The googie architecture taco stand has been a fixture at the corner of Tujunga and Moorpark for half a century, yet efforts to get the building declared a historical site fell short.Now, inexplicably their landlord is threatening not to renew the lease.

From Henry's Tacos Facebook:

I am very sorry to have to announce to everyone that it looks like Henry's will be closing for good on December 31. As some of you know, Henry's is just too much for me as a single, childless woman approaching 60 with no family within 1700 miles. I have had several prospective buyers committed to continuing the tradition, but all have been turned down by the landlord. The current prospective buyers have agreed to all the landlord's terms, but he has ceased communicating with them. Therefore, I have given my notice and it has been accepted by the landlord. I believe this all goes back to my unwittingly angering the landlord by nominating Henry's for Historic Cultural Monument status. As Councilmember Krekorian put a stop to that, the landlord may want to bulldoze Henry's and build something else. I am hoping to get some media coverage in the next few days. Needless to say I am heartsick that after 51 years, Henry's may end for no good reason. Thanks to you all for your support.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Five Favorite Taco Trucks at the Moment


It’s been a couple months since I’ve posted so I thought I would get back into the swing of things with a list of my top five favorite taco trucks at the moment. This list is always evolving so bear with me. And if you have your own list feel free to share it in the comments.

 I’m very particular about what I like in a taco. First, I need a good chile salsa and it has to be spicy. If it’s not spicy there at least needs to be a freshly grilled jalapeno on my plate.The meat has to be up to par as well. Some gristle is okay, but if I have to do a meat inspection after my first taco that’s not a good sign. I think the least important part of the taco is the tortilla. I like tortillas hecha a mano as much as the next taco lover, but I’ve had plenty of very good tacos with regular store bought tortillas. The tortillas have to be prepared right however. This means properly oiled,hot on the plate,and not burned.

 5. El Taquito Mexicano (510 S. Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena)


I love these kinds of tacos. Right off the grill, topped with onions, cilantro, and a spicy chile salsa. Try the al pastor, which is more like seasoned carnitas. The asada is very good too. There’s nothing ground breaking here; just some great LA tacos. Though on a recent night, after a good session in Old Town, they were especially delicious.

4. La Isla Bonita (4th and Rose, Venice)


 This is my local taco truck on the weekends. My usual order is a shrimp tostada and three tacos (asada, carnitas). The tacos come garnished with onions, cilantro, pinto beans, and a flavorful medium spiced salsa. If your lucky your plate comes topped with grilled onions and a grilled jalapeno. Some may be surprised by this inclusion since La Isla Bonita doesn’t usually get name checked among LA’s taco truck elite. But I’ve been eating here for years and it never disappoints.

3. El Matador (Western and Lexington, East Hollywood)


 There is a lot to like about El Matador. The taquero is friendly, the service is quick, and the salsa roja is blistering. The meat is quality too but for me its all about the salsa here. You don’t pay until your done eating so don’t worry if the taquero hands you your plate of tacos and then ignores you. Just settle up your bill in the end. Try the asada, al pastor, and longaniza (sausage).

2. Tacos Leo (La Brea and Venice)

I remember the first time I tried the al pastor at Tacos Leo. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell the Internet. These days it’s hard not to notice the bedlam at the corner of La Brea and Venice. If it’s a Friday night it looks like a party atmosphere with half the neighborhood converging around a spinning wheel of pork, hungry and willing to wait for as long as it takes. However long it is, it’s always worth it.

1. El Chato (La Brea and Olympic Blvd)

You would dance too if you were about to eat at El Chato


Well what more is there to say about El Chato? This is one of the most popular trucks in LA. I always order six tacos evenly split between al pastor and carne asada. Sometimes I’ll sub a chorizo for asada. The tacos come piping hot on your plate with a delicious and spicy salsa roja. They are the size of your palm and can go down in one bite. The lines can get long but the crew inside the truck is very efficient and professional. When I have friends visiting from out of town this is the first truck I take them to.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Gringo Taco Showdown - Rick's Drive In vs Alberto's


As far as gringo tacos go it’s hard to beat Rick’s in Pasadena. Only, now it’s called Bobby’s Place. But the food is the same: the spuderito, the beef and bean with hot, and of course the crunchy ground beef tacos, are all still ridiculously delicious. This hybrid taco-burger stand is legendary.


The taco comes with ground beef, lettuce, tomato slice, cheese, and hot sauce. The shell is pre-fabricated and has a good crunch to it. I’m not sure what the secret is with these tacos but they are some of my favorite gringos.


About a mile east of Bobby’s, across from Pasadena City College, is an Alberto’s Mexican Restaurant. Alberto’s is a chain that is mostly in the San Gabriel Valley but I’ve seen them all over the place. I’ve only ever ordered a bean and cheese burrito at Alberto’s and depending on how generous they are with the cheese they can range from being great to just barely edible.


The beef taco at Alberto’s was just okay. For gringo tacos I prefer pre-fabricated shells and ground beef. Alberto’s has a sturdier taco shell and they use shredded beef. The beef is fried together with the shell so there is a lot of oil that gets trapped inside the taco. There was plenty of cheese but the taco was so oily and greasy that it was hard to find much flavor.

The gringo taco at Rick’s wins this challenge hands down. The taco from Alberto’s did nothing for me. For those that have yet to try Rick’s I suggest you head out to Pasadena. When you get there order couple of beef tacos, a beef and bean spudderito w/ hot, and a large root beer. You’ll thank me later.

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