Sunday, June 24, 2007

Leo's Tacos

photo from

The hardest working taquero in the taco business can be found every weeknight on Eagle Rock blvd in Eagle Rock. His name is Leo and he has his wife Sonia run Leo's taco truck.

Leo's is a local institution in Eagle Rock and a favorite among local Oxy students. So much so that the Oxy students made a movie about Leo's. Watch it here.

Leo's is down with the digital age also. He has a website and myspace page.

So now that we have all of the PR out of the way how are the tacos?

Pretty darn good. The al pastor is special. The saucy juicy pork swims in flavor .It's the kind of taco you can easily get addicted to which explains the long lines and why I call Leo the hardest working taquero in the business. The man never stops working and his grill stays open from 8pm to 4am every night but Monday. Monday is Leo's day off.

Tacos come with guacamole and salsa verde on the side. You can choose from asada, al pastor, pollo or veggie.


On this night I went with asada, pastor and veggie because I know at least one vegetarian reads this blog.The veggie taco is sloppy but oh so tasty , especially with the salsa verde.

The allure of Leo's aside from the food is the prices. In an age when your average burrito stand wants $5 for a burrito Leo gives us the $3 regular burrito (meat, beans,jack cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo) and the $2.50 veggie burrito. If you're a serious carnivore you can get the $4 all meat burrito.

In eagle rock when it comes to late night street tacos it's either Leo's or Rambo's. If it's after the bars close there will be at least a 30 min wait at Leo's while the longest I've waited at Rambo's would be 10 minutes. Go at off peak hours (9ish) and try both.


Leo's Tacos is at Eagle Rock Blvd and Ave 43
8pm to 4am
tacos $1

Rate Leo's - Eagle Rock

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tanya's Tacos


I remember reading an article in one of the Los Angeles papers about a restaurateur that couldn't get people to come into his restaurant to try his food but every time he set up a taco stand in the parking lot the crowds would line up for his tasty tacos. The inside of his restaurant was usually empty and he was constantly trying to get his customers to come inside and try his other dishes to no avail.But sales tripled.

carniceria mural

So now everytime I see a taco truck parked in the lot of a carniceria or taqueria I think of that taquero and his unusual dilemma. I also think that the proprietor of the carniceria most likely understands a thing or two about human behavior. Although carnicerias commonly sell tacos behind the counter the allure of the taco wagon in the parking lot is too tempting. It becomes an impulse buy for motorists and passers buy, many of whom would not have bothered to go inside to order from the counter.


That's how I ended up at Tanya's taco truck. Driving east on Cesar Chavez my impulses got the best of me and I pulled over.

When I first walked up to the truck they were loading supplies from the market into the back of the truck. It was just after noon and I could smell the grilled meats emanating out of the trucks windows. The scent of charred pork and beef and chile hit my nostrils and set off all the happy sensors in my brain.


My tacos(asada y al pastor) came garnished with onions and cilantro.The al pastor was cut from the spit, the asada char-grilled and lime flavored. Both meats finely chopped and topped with a salsa roja and avocado salsa. The cold creamy avocado salsa in one bite, the chile salsa in the next add all the flavor you can ask for. If you want some extra heat ask for a jalapeño(which I did) and you'll be dancing.

al pastor

If I had room I would have gone back for more but the heavy lunch earlier in the day put an end to any gastrological excess. These were beauties though and I will be back to try the other meat offerings. If you plan on going on a taco crawl along Cesar E Chavez on a Saturday afternoon don't forget to add Tanya's to your list.

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Tanya's Tacos
4300 Cesar E Chavez Ave
Tacos $1

Rate Tanya's

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Salinas, California proposes taco truck ban

(photo via New York Times)

Anti-taco forces are attempting to ban taco trucks in Salinas, California. For some communities the taco lifestyle is seen as a threat to the status quo. The culture war between anti-taco forces and pro-taco forces is reaching a fever pitch my friends. Taco fever is here to stay but nobody said the road to freedom would be paved with tortillas hechas a mano. So the struggle continues. In solidarity with my taco brethren up north I will grill some carne asada and eat a jalapeno. Otra vez!

Proposed Ban on Taco Trucks Stirs Animosity in a California Town[NY Times]
Taco truck controversy elevated to next level[Monterey Herald]
Taco Trucks vs. The Restaurant Cartel in Salinas, CA[Carpe Diem]

Friday, June 15, 2007

Better Know a Taquero

From time to time I get emails from taco truck operators in other states. I also get emails from taco lovers from other states asking where to get the best taco in their respective town. The time has come to bring the two together.

So I decided to rip off Stephen Colbert's "better know a district" and call this segment of my blog "better know a taquero". I will be featuring taco truck operators from all over the country. If you're a taco truck operator anywhere in the country send me your info and pictures!


Carlos Sosa is the owner of tacos La Yucateca in Tampa Bay, Florida. Mr Sosa turned a 8x10 trailer into a customized taco cart. Before starting his business Mr Sosa searched on the internets and found this blog and credits this blog for inspiring him to start his taco business.

puerco asado

Mr Sosa a native of Yucatan, Mexico has brought the flavors of yucatan and michoacan to the 727
"I serve asada, carnitas michoacan style, poc-chuc (grilled pork) and pollo, tacos, tortas, quesadillas and even breakfasts in the morning (chorizo and eggs is my top seller) i sell cochinita pibil like tacos yuca's on wednesdays and fish tacos and ceviche tostadas on friday."

If you live near Tampa Bay check out Tacos La Yucateca and tell them the taco bandini sent you!

Tacos La Yucateca
5895 78th Ave N
Pinellas Park, Fl

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

La Que Si Llena


If you thought your best chance of finding a great street taco was when the sun goes down , think again my friends. Many of LA's finest taco trucks operate both day and night. There is the two headed monster of La Estrella and El Pique that park side by each in Highland Park. There is the 50 cent taco special at El Capitan, the roasting al pastor spit at The Surfer Taco and lets not forget the senoras of La Golondrina that serve up enchiladas straight from the lonchera.

Now we can add another to the growing list of lunchtime taco truck eats (that's if you eat lunch at 2pm like your humble taco correspondent.)


Taqueria La Que Si Llena parks in front of the Superior Warehouse market at the corner of Cesar E. Chavez Ave. and Rowan Ave serving up solamente tacos,burritos y tortas.

It was about 1:30 in the afternoon when I strolled up to the window of the truck.

"un taco pastor, y un taco carnitas por favor"

"no carnitas hoy "

They were out of carnitas so I got adventurous.

"dame un taco de lengua por favor"

"un de lengua?"

I know she expected me to say asada. I expected me to say asada. But I said lengua. And I said it like I was a seasoned lengua eater.


The tacos came wrapped in thin paper. Two large fresh corn tortillas packed with meat, onions, cilantro and a light salsa de chile arbol.They were the size of small burritos and only $1.25 each.


I opened the lengua first. Thick cuts of beef tongue spilled out on to the plate, a beefy aroma filled my nostrils and after a heavy squirt of lime I dug in. The beefy strips of lengua dominate the subtle salsa and lime and it's a bit overwhelming but also very satisfying.

My taste buds had to adjust to the saucy al pastor and once they did I couldn't get enough. The fresh corn tortillas soaked up the achiote stain from the pork and the salsa and lime provided the perfect balance.


Cesar Chavez Ave is somewhat of a taco paradise . Whether you seek the fiery red salsa roja of King Taco, or the crisp battered fish tacos from El Siete Mares or the authentic dishes from La Parilla you will find it on this avenue where LA and Mexico collide.

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Taqueria La Que Si Llena
3600 Cesar E. Chavez Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063
Tacos $1.25

Rate La Que Si Llena

Saturday, June 02, 2007

King Taco #15


Before I started this blog I would eat at King Taco three or four times a week. I ate there so often the gentlemen that prepared the orders knew me. They knew me and acknowledged me. It's one thing if they know your face, it's another if they acknowledge you as a regular . That can go a long way to getting an extra salsa roja or cup of jalapeños or often times just the correct order. It always helps ordering the same thing every time. As they knew my face they also knew me by the name "2 carne asada , 2 al pastor guy".

One time one of the workers at the King Taco on San Pedro St said to me" Hey, you normally eat at the Pico and Alvarado king taco"

He was right, the Pico and Alvarado location was my King Taco.

After starting this blog I stopped going to King Taco. Not because I didn't love King Taco but because as a taco journalist I had to cover the overall taco beat and not the same beat everyday. There were other tacos to report on, the city was waiting.

So when I decided it was time to go back to King Taco I wanted to go to the King Taco I had never been to before. The King Taco stand in East LA on Olympic blvd, a region I refer to as the taco mecca.

To my knowledge this King Taco is the only King Taco that is a traditional taco stand(it has no indoor ordering) It is also one of the biggest taco stands in Los Angeles.

asada y al pastor

King Taco's carne asada is the popular choice . These are classic LA tacos. The perfect amount of oil is applied to each tortilla, and the way the onions and cilantro and meat combine with the hot salsa roja is just magical. Al pastor, suadero, carnitas are all excellent as well but it is the asada tacos that I fell for first.


But it is the salsa roja that sets firmly the crown atop the King's head. It is what you think of when you hear King Taco, and for heat lovers it is what you crave.

It is what makes King Taco the King.

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King Taco #15
4300 E. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90023

PS : I'm looking for classic taco stands or taco huts. The kind that have an outdoor window ordering only and no indoor seating. The taco stand(as well as burger stand) is kind of a dieing art. The westside has only 1 taco stand, La Playita on Lincoln Blvd in Santa Monica. So my friends, email Me the taco stands in your area. Even if they are not the greatest tacos I still want to check them out.
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