Los 5 Puntas: L.A.'s Greatest Taco?
- Chris O Jul 10, 2006 09:16 PM
So I found myself in East L.A. last week, and of course I took that as an excuse to eat. Flipping through my notes, I decided Gallo's Grill would be a good place to try, but when I arrived at 4533 E Cesar Chavez, I found a boarded-up building. Apparantly, they have moved since I wrote that down. So I looked to see what else was on that street. "Los Cinco Puntas? My Spanish is a little rusty, but doesn't that mean..."
Actually, it means the five points, as I figured out when I saw the corner the place is located on (Cesar Chavez and Lorena). It's a little neighborhood carniceria. People were standing in line in front of butcher cases full of various meats, and I could see tortillas being made on a griddle behind them. My note, probably from a Chowhound posting, said "deli type place-get carnitas and tortillas." So I ordered two carnitas tacos with everything. I agreed to quacamole, but demured when offered some kind of pickled chile strips, and got a coke in the bottle out of the cooler.
No place to eat it there, so I went out to my car. And man, was this a taco! Big, two or three times the size of a taco truck taco, probably bigger than the Taco Bell variety. The tortilla was a thick gordita type, warm and bubbly. The salsa was hot, but didn't overpower the meat. The pork was incredibly flavorful, and the guacamole smoothed out the greasy, salty pork taste nicely. The taste lingered in my mouth throughout the 3-hour seminar I was attending, and I kept sniffing my greasy fingers. I really believe this is the best taco I've had in Los Angeles (which is another way of saying the best taco I've had in my life).
Well Chris... you just majorly established your street cred by even going into Cinco Puntos... I love that place, but it's as OLD SKOOL Mercadito that you can get!! I remember when SO and I started dating and I took him there, the first sight you see walking through the door, braised crispy Sheeps Heads. The look on his face was PRICELESS... :)
Anyway, as you experienced, they do it RIGHT, still... they do HUNKS of pork, do them in LARD. Do them with SALT. Do them so they become honey nuggets of porkiness. Like I said, Old Skool...
Their service is mostly as a 'market'. You usually get your Heads and Carnitas by the lbs and eat them at home with your preparations. But along with great tacos, they also have great Tamales and other 'hot plate' items as well.
Sadly they close early, but are open on the weekends. I would totally put it on the list for an East L.A. visit, again, to pick up those amazing Carnitas and Great Tamales to go... so when you retreat back home, you still have a bit of ELA with you! :)
Cinco Puntos is great. I also like La Azteca Tortilleria nearby, they also do wonderful carnitas and good tortilas. Too bad about Gallo's Grill though, that place was excellent :(
Mother used to send me to buy masa for tamales way back in the day and I would make sure to get a couple of tacos for the car ride home. I think there is an under appreciation, at times, of the excellent food cooked in tortillerias and carnicerias around certain parts of town--with this place being one of the best.
Thank you! I was wondering when someone would mention the chicharrones, both types (heavy fatty/airy crackling) of which are great with those handmade tortillas and homemade salsas.. I've read so many things here about 5 Puntos but practically no one mentions the chicharrones. I have fond memories of my dad coming home on Saturday night/Sunday morning with those tortillas, a couple of huge hunks of carnitas AND a few slabs of chicharrones, and all of us making little tacos out of them. This is a true East LA Mexican food experience.
Los Cinco Puntos is my top choice in LA for their green chilie cheese tamales. I never buy any other flavor.