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Titos vs. Cinco de Mayo: Tale of 2 Tacos

Since we had the discussion recently about the charms of Tito’s versus Cinco de Mayo next door, we decided to donate our palates to science and endure the challenge of taste-testing a taco from each of the adjoining stands. Titos’ is a 39 year old landmark compared to Cinco de Mayo which was formerly Lucy’s about 2 years ago. I occasionally eat at both places since they are in the neighborhood. We ordered 1 beef taco with cheese from each. Prices were equal., quantity and quality of filling were indiscernible. The salsas were equally spicy but Tito’s had more texture. Cinco de Mayo’s was soupier with little flakes of fresh cilantro in it. The major difference lies in the tacos shells. Cinco de Mayo’s was fried with the hint of oil on the exterior of the shell. It was curled around the edges and had a blistery texture from the deep fryer. Health food? This ain’t it! They wrap the taco in foil and plastic if you buy it to go, so beware, it gets soggy from the retained heat. Try to eat it hot from the kitchen.
Tito’s gives true meaning to the term hard-shell taco. With no sign of oil and very little flavor it leads one to ponder whether it may have been fried at all. They’re like Taco Bell pre-fab shells, but about 50% thicker. It had a cardboard like appearance, looking like it came out of a vending machine.
Cinco wins for thin crispy chips. Tito’s chips looked to be hand cut, but were stiffer, thicker and took some extra effort to chew. Their tortillas tasted like they sat out on the counter overnight before frying. My preference will be Cinco de Mayo for resembling more of a taco like abuelita used to make.

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  1. CDM deserves to be a lot busier than it is.

    In addition to the tacos, I've enjoyed their egg and onion burrito, their red chile burrito (or whatever they call it) and some of their amercan food like hamburgers.

    It's also very easy to park and they take plastic.

    1. 2 down, 7,432 taco stand/truck/restaurants to go.

      1. Unless they've changed it dramatically since it used to be Lucy's, CDM is an order-at-the-counter place just like Tito's. They are very comparable.

        For what it's worth, I just ate at Tito's on Monday. I'd been craving a hard shell beef taco, and had been disappointed in my quest. Tito's satisfied my craving.

        Based upon the original poster's comments, however, next time I will try CDM.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DanaB

          CDM is order at the counter, exactly like Tito's. They even have inside and outside windows.

          Unlike TT, CDM has someone in the back preparing the food. It isn't prepared by the servers.

          I agree, they are similar. It might be fuji to red delicious, but it's still apples to apples.

        2. Back in the 70's Tito's used to be where CDM (and the former Lucy's) used to be. I don't recall it ever being a sit-down type of place since that time to now, no more than you can call Tito's a sit-down kind of place. Anyway, I hated Lucy's and never tried CDM. I've been a Tito's fan all this time.

          1. Apples to oranges? No way, I was comparing one taco joint to another, both have counter service only and NO AIR CONDITIONING! (LOL) both are working hard to compete with each other in almost every way.
            You know, sometimes you have to do a side by side comparison to figure out what you really like. Tacos are part of a typical L.A. native's diet. We had a ball dissecting the tacos. You should try it.

            1. I can't believe no one's mentioned the biggest difference: variety! CDM has FAR more items available. FWIW, I've tried Tito's a few times just to see what all the fuss (and line) was about and was always disappointed. I loves me some CDM tacos and enchiladas though. Also, they have a few freshly squeezed juices that are reasonably priced.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ronche

                Also, note that CDM has terrific handmade guacamole. What my family now does is order the guac at CDM, and while it is being made, we walk over to TT and order the rest of the meal. In addition, this allows you to park in the CDM lot, which is a big plus because the TT lot is a disaster.

              2. CDM vs. TT is definitely apples to apples! Heck, it's comparing McDonald's to Burger King. Or Mastro's to Morton's!

                But I think which one is better is definitely all about personal preference.

                CDM is more of a traditional hard shell taco. TT's is more fried, puffy, flakey deliciousness. Chips are better at CDM. Personally, I prefer CDM due to variety and usually no wait time!

                Both have walk up ordering windows, very little seating and tacos! VERY COMPARABLE!

                1. Excellent idea for a thread. Very interesting

                  1. Well heck, next time I am out that way I am going to try CDM. Like I posted above, I hated Lucy's but I am always willing to try something new plus I get tired of having to go to Tito's right after they open in order to beat the lines. I'll try CDM at a more normal time!

                    1. i have been going to tito's once in a blue moon for years just for that fix...i have never tried cdm, will try it next time for the fix but so far nothing beats titos in my book (lovvve the tacos and even that rice even though its always a bit dry). thanks for the tip!

                      1. I like both Tito's and Cinco de Mayo. I really like Tito's hard shell tacos but at the same time, I like the variety that Cinco de Mayo has. Everything that I have tried at CDM have been good. I have had the chicken enchiladas, taquitos, crispy beef tacos, a bacon and egg breakfast burrito, a burger and fries.

                        1. I used to swear by Tito's (and my family still does). But lately I find there is a distinct flavor of the shell that is not appetizing. I would comment as to the original post in this thread that if you ever doubt that there is oil in that shell, re-heat one in a toaster oven on foil. The foil will reveal the answer. (Hint: remember to immediately replace the foil afterwords.)

                          1. I just tested a CDM taco and --- fwiw --- they use ground beef.

                            It was a good taco, but Tito's uses shredded, don't they.

                            Just pointing out that there is a difference and I know some people prefer one over the other.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: PaulF

                              We removed the meat and looked at both tacos very closely. The meet was chopped in both tacos we tested. It was a braised-pot roast style of meat, like chuck or rump. Not shredded, chopped. At first sight it appeared that the CDM tacos was finer chopped... if it did go through a grinder, the grinding was done on a very course setting after it was cooked. But now I wonder if the CDM night cook took a short cut and used hamburger meat on yours.


                              1. re: sassille

                                It was ground beef, but not a hamburger. I mean, it was obviously cooked in the sauce, it wasn't just an unseasoned hamburger in a taco shell.

                                At least, that's how it seemed to me.

                                1. re: PaulF

                                  I also ate at CDM today, after reading this thread. I definitely liked the shell better than Titos, and the beef was finely shredded, not ground. I like the salsa better from Tito's though. Liked the rice and beans better from CDM. I was tempted by the variety from CDM, and think next time I will order an egg dish, maybe huevos rancheros. Eggs would be good with their beans :-)

                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    Well, I'm willing to admit I might be wrong on this.

                                    I liked the taco, I'll eat another one soon and figure out why I thought it was ground beef.

                            2. Oh, I forgot about the one major plus of CDM...they're open 24 hours a day! Great for late night runs to and from the airport, or grabbing something to eat on your way to SM or coming back...

                              1. What is address of CDM Please.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bocarw

                                  It's right on the corner of Washington Place and Sepulveda in Culver City. It's in between Tito's Tacos (which is on Wash Place) and Johnnie's Pastrami (on Sepulveda).

                                2. I couldn't tell how the meat at Cinco de Mayo was whether it was ground or shredded......all that I know is that it was DRY DRY DRY...seemed to absorb moisture...hard to believe that one would actually PREFER the meat filling at titos...ha......i like the texture of the taco shell at CDM over titos...but titos wins for their salsa and the overall taco experience (flavor as a whole with salsa)....the meat was too distracting at CDM...CDM's salsa was also waaaay too liquidy.

                                  Did not like the rice or beans...almost zero flavor.

                                  Although the beef enchilda at CDM was really good.....I used my chips to scoop that up....that saved the day for that meal.

                                  1. "If there's anything better than a Tito's Taco it's two!"

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: shenry

                                      Reviving another old thread, only to somewhat pointlessly say that Cinco de Mayo blows away Tito's in my most humble of opinions.

                                      Period, paragraph.

                                      CDM has a HUGE menu to choose from, everything prepared with love, tenderness, and a little attitude. Cozy, silly-lame dining room (what's with the John Wayne mural?), a nice spread of pickled carrots/jalapenos, peppers, onions, and other goodies at your discretion, quick service, great food.

                                      I used to rehearse in that part of town and I always eagerly awaited my pre-rehearsal dinner at CDM. Now, I'll make a trip there (from Van Nuys) just for the sake of eating one of their combo plates (platos?). It's worth the drive.

                                      Tito's tacos are cool but for a more satisfying meal, I always hit Cinco de Mayo. Good to see this little shop is on a few radar screens.

                                    2. I remember Tito's back in the late 60's when they were on the corner of Sepulveda and Washington Pl.. They even gave you guacamole if you asked for it...free! They could never count change until they got a real cash register. They also had small tables to eat indoors but was mostly take out. Titos had another place on Beach and Ball Aves. in Stanton but later changed their name to Tom's Tacos. It's still there and the food is still the same. Their all meat burritos were my favorite with their signature tomato salsa and chopped green jalapeno to go along with the fresh hot corn chips.

                                      If you're in the area of Culver City, try El Abajeno on Culver and Inglewood for homestyle Mexican food. It was our alternative when not eating at Titos. We called it Vics since that was the name of the market next door.