"hey bandini...try the taco truck on 11th st next to the salvation army, I'm scared to"
"I'm scared to also" I wrote back.
"You're the taco hunter not me!" she replied.
I don't generally report on mariscos trucks. As much as I love mariscos the trucks that specialize in them don't always make the greatest meat tacos and I don't want to give a bad review to a mariscos truck based on their tacos. It's not what they do. But I see this truck all the time and I was interested if they made a decent taco.
El Hameca is the trucks name. It parks in front of a building supply warehouse between Olympic and Colorado on 11th St in Santa Monica and caters almost exclusively to the day laborers that hang about the area. There's no menu on the truck so I asked what kind of tacos they had and was told "beef and pork".
I asked for one of each (carnitas, carne asada) and with a bottle of coke the total came to $5.50. Ouch. It's obvious I was profiled as an outsider, a taco novice, a desperate gabacho that would be willing to pay anything.
Sadly on this taco journey I have experienced this before. If there is no menu and no prices on the truck sometimes the truck operator/cook/cashier will charge you whatever they feel like. Of course they can't do this to the day laborers that congregate in the area but someone that looks like an outsider..why not? They probably won't be back anyway and your business depends on the empty belly of the migrant labor worker not the taco whims of some office worker that took a wrong turn and only has 10 minutes to grab lunch or in this case an anonymous taco reporter.
So how were the tacos? Hopeless on every level. From the canned liked quality of the salsa roja to the wilted cold corn tortillas. The carnitas was decent but the carne asada was fatty and had all the flavor boiled out of it. For every bit of edible beef there was a fatty glob of gristle that stuck to the back of my teeth.Getting through the whole taco was an exercise in endurance and idiocy but I kept going and as my stomach started to churn and as more and more chunks of gristle slid down my throat I finished the taco and immediately chomped on the jalapeno to rinse the vileness of the flabby beef out of mouth and mind.
But I can't complain. I still live in Los Angeles, the taco capitol of the country and it's not as if I have no recourse. I get to blog about how I was profiled and overcharged.This is why Al Gore invented the internets.
1658 11th St