Since starting this blog over 5 years ago the taco truck I have been emailed the most about hands down is Taco Zone in Echo Park. I tried Taco Zone several years ago, and I thought the tacos were good but not great. But the emails keep coming and I’ve been wondering if I was missing something, or if there was just a massive hipster factor playing into Taco Zone’s incredible popularity.
I got there just as locals were queuing up. The line was about 10 deep but it moved quickly, and orders came out of the window at a decent pace. An interesting collage of stickers on the taco wagon gave it some character. Taco Zone really does embody the local flavor of Echo Park and Silverlake. There was a steady flow of patrons; hipsters mixed in with 9 to 5’ers mixed in with local thugs. Now and then a random vagrant would walk up and ask everyone for change.
I ordered suadero, carne asada, al pastor and garnished my tacos with onions, cilantro, and salsa. I sampled a bit of meat from each taco and I couldn’t tell the difference between them. I went for the taco with the avocado salsa first. I figured it was either carne asada or suadero. After the first bite, I still couldn’t tell, but the salsa was excellent and it didn’t much matter. The coolness of the avocado, the piquant heat from the chile, and the vibrant flavor masqueraded the weakness of the meat. Was it suadero? Asada? I didn’t care anymore.
I dug into another taco but still couldn't tell. The meat was so dry it didn't taste like much of anything. The only flavors were the excellent salsa roja and the onions and cilantro. The salsa roja had good heat with a peppery blend of multiple chiles putting the homemade horchata to good use. The last of the tacos ended up being al pastor, but it wasn’t very good al pastor, and not even the salsa could save it. It wasn’t the worst al pastor I’ve had in LA but I think it might make the line-up.
This stretch of Alvarado is a traffic nightmare and I wouldn’t advise any taco hound to attempt the journey. For the taco explorer who wonders about the taco truck with 290 Yelp reviews and an average rating of 4.5 stars my advice is not to fall for the temptation. The reward is minimal, no matter how many hipsters light up your email telling you to try the suadero.
Alvarado & Montana
Los Angeles, CA 90026
tacos $1.25 each
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