I wrote about El Taquito Mexicano last February in a post comparing it to its closest competitor, El Gallito. In that post I didn’t take sides in the local taco battle between trucks (not sure if there is one) but my heart is usually with the first taco to make my forehead sweat a little. It may have been El Taquito on that night, my memory is fuzzy, but what I do remember is that it was a busy Friday night and the tacos came out of the window fresh, hot, and with a deliciously spicy salsa roja. They had won me over.
I went back recently to El Taquito on a weekday and the tacos didn’t have that same pep to them. The meat, while fresh, didn’t have that right off the grill taste, and even the excellent salsa roja couldn’t erase the meat’s shortcomings. On a busy night when the meat goes from the grill to the cutting board then on to the plate there’s a finer balance between the heat and flavor of the meat, and the spice of the chile. But it was a slow Tuesday night and something was missing.
carnitas, carne asada $1.25 each
El Taquito Mexicano is one of the most popular taco trucks in LA with 255 reviews on yelp, with an average rating of 4.5. Only Taco Zone in Echo Park with its strong hipster contingent has more (287). What makes these taco trucks so popular is how good they are during taco truck rush hour. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night you will find a line at El Taquito that sometimes twists its way all the way to the sidewalk. Throughout the night the line moves quickly, the meat goes from the grill to the tree stump cutting board, the taquero asks if you want spicy or mild, and in one motion scoops up the meat with the tortillas and ladles your desired salsa on top. This is when El Taquito is at their best.
El Taquito has a loyal following most taco trucks would envy but with that popularity comes expectation and charges of being overrated. For every 4 or 5 star Yelp review, there’s the 1 star review asking what the big deal is. If I hadn’t been to El Taquito on a Friday night, I might be asking the same question.
El Taquito Mexicano
510 S. Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
Monday - Tuesday: 7 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Wednesday - Thursday: 6 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Friday - Saturday: 6 p.m. - 3 a.m.
Sunday: 5 p.m. - 12 a.m.
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