friday night taco adventure - el taurino & kike's tacos (brief synopsis & pics)
after bailing on a rather uninteresting soiree in koreatown, fellow chowhound pirikara and i decided to check out a taco table based on memory. i must have confused el taurino with what i was looking for - somehow remembered "the intersection of olympic and hoover" instead of "vermont and venice"; think i might have been recalling a recent JG blurb about al pastor or whatnot. anyway we got to el taurino with exactly $1 in my pocket and $3+ change in piri's, and being a cash only place we simply got two al pastors and one carnitas. in a word: excellent. if my understanding is correct - al pastor is pork grilled on that vertical rotisserie spit a la middle eastern shwarma and ideally with an open flame right? anyway, we were more than satisfied but still slightly hungry so we went off to an ATM to get some cash.
but something in us was still looking for a taco table - and by this point, i couldn't remember at all where it might be, so we went to the little taco stand i pass all the time on my drive. it's called kike's tacos and is at the intersection of beaudry and 2nd street. they had a 'pastor' on the menu, but certainly there was no turning spit in sight. i tried that and the carnitas just for kicks with my newfound cash and... it was ok. slightly underwhelming considering we'd just come from el taurino, but the 'pastor' was nothing like the 'al pastor' from earlier, which made me wonder if it was supposed to be the same thing or if i've just got it all wrong.
by the way there were no round hubcap-type apparati so i'm not sure if this was the same thing as the 'taco table' that everyone keeps mentioning, but it was still worth checking out.
one note of caution: i inhale spicy like i breathe air, but the spicy salsa at el taurino is pretty vengeful. i can still feel my stomach tingling slightly. wish me luck tomorrow ><.
piri's photos and take on this:
good taco run!
I work downtown and at least 4 times I have searched for Kike's and I couldn't find it. 1st and Beaudry...I've yet to see any taco cart or truck there. Although I havn't checked after 8pm.
You can't really beat El Taurino when it comes to tacos. It's the definitive LA taco.
as far the the vermont and venice taco table I just posted an entry about it on my taco blog. Great tacos. Good experience.
you know i realize i totally goofed. kike's taco is at the intersection of 2nd and beaudry, not 1st ><. sorry! i live literally blocks away from there and i can't even get the streets right... maybe it's like how they say car accidents usually happen 5 minutes from home. grr, careless!
Yes, el Taurino has been my favorite since the 80's, when the area was less than stellar (trust me, nowadays it is very tame). Anyhow, for those fellow adventorous Chowhounders, I can tell you that if you want your pick of taco carts (Which by the way are superior to a taco truck, since you get to interact more with the "Chef") take Normandie and head south to Florence avenue. Along Normandie (before getting to Slauson) you will find about 5 taco stands (the northemost is before you get to MLK Blvd), so after hitting every one of those, you have still not found tacos to your liking (which by the way each taco still sells for $50 cents), then when you get to Florence hang a left (heading west) and you will find 2 taco carts (one next to a night club) They have some of the hottest chiles I have ever tasted. They called them Chile Manzano, and the burn is very close to that of Habanero. Drive one more block, on Denker and Florence you will find another taco cart that has very good "tripas". This is the real deal, I mean, they dunk your tortillas in oil and lightly fry them before blessing them with your choice of 5 fillers (if my memory serves my while sober, they are asada, buche, tripas, suadero and al pastor. This is bliss. By the way, that salsa in El Taurino is unforgiving, problem is the more you eat, the more you crave it. Lastly, you are right, al pastor is prepared on the spinning rotisserie (called "trompo" in Spanish).
Tip, for the best Al pastor in the whole world, go to tacos el gordo in Tijuana. If you are truly in search of the wholy grail, let me know and I will give you directions there. The best this humble and unrefined palate has had the pleasure of processing.
Used to go to el taurino all the time in the 80's when a grad student at 'SC.
First place I ate/drank atole.