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This past week-El Parian, Los Tacos, Loteria, and Super Tacos

Not sure about the name of the last one. It's the taqueria in the same minimall as Monte Alban. I think it's Super Tacos.
Not that great. Got carnitas and asada there. Both tough and dry, typical old steam table Mexican. Salsas decent I suppose, if not watery. They were doing a good tortas business for the local Mexican crowd though and they looked good. I'd rather go to Monte Alban.

Loteria-got carnitas, cochinito pibil, pollo en pipian, and papa con rajas. Everything except papas were way salty, definitely an appeal to the gringo crowd. Tortillas homemade and fresh, but thick. Salsas good. Flavors very good. Meat too finely pulled/chopped for my taste, almost paste-y. Too much salt. Oh, and for the size, too expensive. I could eat 10 of these tiny buggers and 3 bucks a pop adds up quick.

Los Tacos- On Santa Monica one block west of Fairfax (south side of the street) Pretty good. Got a carnitas burrito. Carnitas, beans, onions, cilantro, they do it mojado here so if you want to eat w your hands request without it. Carnitas were good and porky and not old tasting unlike 90 percent of Mexican I get. Mojado sauce was great, good spice, salsas were usual suspects, solid little joint. Open 24 hours. Ignore token crackhead tweakers out front. (One of em came in while I was eating just to get a straw...) Oh, and the burrito is big. 6 bucks or so.

El Parian- Very disappointing. For those who haven't been, it's a little hard to find storefront near the Convention Center. I'd read up a bunch of glowing reviews claiming best asada in L.A. I know nothing of Jalisco or Jalisco style Mexican food. I can't make any claims of knowledge to authenticity. The place was jam packed with Mexican families. Homemade tortillas, asada cooked to order. First of all, the whole trip was a nightmare. Upon placing my order in polite Spanish I sat down and for the first time in my experience of eating Mexican in L.A. truly felt my whiteness stand out. I've done the late night taco truck thing in East L.A., gone to some dodgy areas here and there, and never found myself feeling....unwelcome. I ordered two asada tacos. I found myself sitting and watching a few older Mexican gentlemen sit down, place their orders, and another family sit and place their order. Well, sure enough their much larger orders came first. I waited probably a half hour, kid you not, for two asada tacos. Anything in the name of good eats right? Well, upon hastily unwrapping my meat-perfumed prize and digging in, I was badly disappointed. The meat was cut large, and very, very chewy. Flavorful, underseasoned, nice salsa, great tortilla, juicy, greasy, but so damn chewy I either had to swallow whole pieces of meat or spit it out, not a pretty sight. I wanted to like this place a lot. Perhaps the carnitas are sublime. Perhaps I need to bring some of mis carnales with me next time I go, if there is a next time.

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  1. I thought it was the Biriria that was awesome at El Parian.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Xericx

      Exactly. The goat taco is the way to go. It is quite good. I agree that the taco de carne asada is nothing special. I went there early on a weekday evening before a game at Staples and it was almost empty. The service was friendly. A crazy patron handed us a note telling us not to return as we left. I took it to be part of the EL PARIAN experience.

      By the way, from the street EL PARIAN looks like it has been closed for three years. I entered from the back where the parking is.

      1. re: Marco Polo

        the goat taco was great - nice lamby flavor, juicy and a big portion. i'm going back for that.

      2. re: Xericx

        After re-reading old posts on El Parian I see it's a mix of the three. However, many posts claim to have received nicely charred, crispy bits of flank steak. This is nothing like what I got. What I got was grey and almost seemed steamed, like the grill cook crammed too much meat together or something.
        Le sigh.

        1. re: fooddude37

          I had the exact same experience with the asada just the other day. After reading Bandini's blog, I was expecting El Parian to be taco nirvana, but was terribly disappointed. For pure flavor, I prefer the asada from EL Taco Llama, Tacos La Fonda or even The Talpa (the rest of the taco may be lacking, but the meat is incredibly flavorful).

          1. re: Jwsel

            I also didn't see what the big deal is about the goat. The meat was a bit mushy for my taste, and the goat flavor, which should have been pronounced, seemed to have lost a lot of its punch in the cooking process.

            There are better versions of birria to be had elsewhere. My favorite is the one on Magnolia near Cahuenga, next to the car wash. Might have been El Taco Llama.

            1. re: WBGuy

              That is El Taco Llama (probably the best of them, imho, although the one on Sherman Way east of the 170 is also good). However, I've never seen birria at ETL.

              1. re: WBGuy

                Well, you are forcing me to try this place on Magnolia because El Parian has had the best goat Birria I have had Anywhere. Any additional info to provide?

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  I recognized the place from Bandini's Taco Hunt blog, which was the reason I stopped. The depth and spiciness of the birria taco was the reason this place still stands out in my mind, and also the reason why I felt El Parian was a bit of a letdown for me.

        2. I am kind of taken aback by your statement of feeling unwelcome and standing out at el parian.

          The first time I ate there -sure it was a bit daunting [which I think it was all in my mind due to its reputation] - the owner/manager (Raul?) came up to me and started to talk with me and immediately made me feel very welcomed- a lone 20 year old gabacho.


          Even if he didn't -the people who eat here obviously know a good place, and I think are more conerned with getting their chow on or enjoying themselves with their families than staring down a person interested in doing the same.

          Re. underseasoning - see salt shaker at everytable, seems to be the practice among Mexican dining establishments to salt to your personal taste.

          Birria is what they do best here, order that if goat is your thing. I havent had the carnitas but per other chowhounders: dont order it.

          I also had the carne asada which seems just to be cut large here, which I regard as a sign that they have nothing to hide in their asada, it's top.

          Go back, munch on their cheap chips with killer salsa and await your chivo -its worth it. And if you see me there this weekend (lone whiteboy in the corner) youre more than welcome to chowdown with me. :)

          1. I also went to El Parian for the first time this week. I went solo on Sunday night, about 7:30pm. About four tables were occupied when I arrived, perhaps six when I left, and they had a steady stream of to-go customers. I was the only Caucasian during this time.

            Service was polite, fast & warm. I detected no favoritism in play. Two separate waitresses waited on me, both always with a smile...possibly with the slightest hint of amusement at seeing a white guy in there after dark, but whatever, I felt the love.

            Chips and drinks came fast. Chips were from a bag, but were fresh and delicious. Salsa was tasty, but I'm not the kind of guy who would know what good salsa was so I'll let others weigh in on it.

            I have a cheatsheet in my car with notes of various raves, and the notation for El Parian seemed to point to the all-meat version of the asada burrito, so that's what this lapsed low-carber went with. (However, I was sorely tempted by the possibility of just ordering a pound of asada or carnitas a la carte and just shoveling it down. Do civilized people do such a thing? In the end I chickened out.)

            Huge burrito was delivered fairly quickly with vast quantities of tasty asada. I didn't detect any 'charred bits', but it was delicious and (at least the batch I got) had none of that old, steamed quality that I dislike as much as you do. My batch wasn't chewy or greasy in the slightest.

            (I'm going to pause a moment and say that nothing in this post should be construed as meaning that I'm doubting any part of your experience. I'm as sick of thread wars as anyone and I'm just offering my experience as an independent data point.)

            I did add some salt to my asada -- to my taste, this made the very good asada amazing. I crammed that mountain of beef down my gob and was very happy. I'll be back, and next time, this very white boy will try some goat.

            1. Loteria- I have to agree on the overpriced menu but the food is good. I had a taco that was way small. Definitly a good break from the typical carnitas/carne asada resturants. If you haven't had it, try the tortilla soup. It has a certain kick to it and is well prepared. I'm partial to their tostadas. <---yeh, my first post!

              1. Bummer about your trip to El Parian. I've been at least 20 times now and never had an issue, either with food or whitey-itis. I am white, so I suppose I feel white most of the time. That said, I have had the carne vary some both in size and degree of char - but never had anything chewy. I also love the carnitas here - I recommend it to anyone going. I'm not a chivo maniac yet, but I suppose its in my future.

                On my last visit, I noticed a full order of asada (whole flank) on another table with rice and beans. I may try that next time.

                I've always been treated really well, too. The waitresses are pretty friendly in my experience, and I'd recommend you flag one down if you need something - like your food! Half an hour for a couple of tacos is poor - I wouldn't be shocked if they misplaced your order. On a weekend, orders of chivo outnumber everything else by about 4 to 1.

                I think you should give it another try, food dude. I work very close by and am always up for lunch at El Parian. Let me know if you'd like to go it again with another white boy (and I have some Indian friends we can bring to really mix things up). Serious offer here.

                1. El Super Taco is the place in the same mini-mall as Monte Alban's. Sadly, I agree re the carne asada, which was gristly yet again yesterday. Their meats generally leave something to be desired -- I find the al pastor is usually the best bet. Have to disagree re the salsas, which I think are excellent, esp. the creamy avocado and the super hot styles.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: a_and_w

                    I thought their cabeza was by far the best of their meat tacos.

                    1. re: tony michaels

                      Oops, I meant as between the carne asada and al pastor. Haven't yet tried the cabeza, lengua, carnitas, or chorizo.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        Just for the sake of total truth I haven't tried the lengua yet either. If anyone has tried it feel free to chime in.

                        1. re: tony michaels

                          Concerning cabeza, it is my favorite taco filling of choice and I have always been interested to find out whether the end result is tastier when [traditionally and personally prefered] whole head steamed - 'al vapor'- or portions of cheek etc meat stewed for long periods as a shortcut of sorts.

                          1. re: kare_raisu

                            So many taco fillings - so little time. I typically order cabeza, but it's not always available in the places on the westside. I didn't know that they had a short cut (a meat pun?) for producing the final product. Where else on the westside do you like cabeza tacos? Mostly I find them at the taco trucks on Venice Blvd. or on Lincoln.

                            1. re: tony michaels

                              I wish I could help you with trucks on the westside but I live out in Riverside

                    2. re: a_and_w

                      I had a dry asada experience at El Super Taco once before, but this was before closing. I agree with the great salsas. I've been there about 10-12 other times and had no issues.

                      As for the people who have had bad experiences at El Parian, I'm sorry. I've been there once before and had a great asada platter. Yes, when you order the tacos you get large slices of meat. That's what sets them apart.

                      For Loteria (have not been there yet), I heard they are good and that they are expensive. But do remember they are located on an expensive piece of real estate.

                      One last note. THANK YOU Taco Bandini for your taco blog!!


                      1. re: skimrunner

                        My problem was not with the large chunks of meat. I like that. My problem was that the meat was flavorless and had no char at all. I also did not like the salsa roja, which was very tangy, though I enjoyed the pico de gallo.

                        It could very well be that I got a bad taco and normally, they are much better. But after all the hype and going out of my way to go to El Parian, I couldn't hide my disappointment.

                        Frankly, for a similar style taco to El Parian carne asada taco -- a big taco with big chunks of beef, and fresh tomatoes as well as onions and cilantro -- I really like the carne asada taco at The Talpa. While the tortilla isn't all that great and nobody would mistake the salsa for King Taco's, the beef is incredibly flavorful.

                      2. re: a_and_w

                        When is the busiest time frame at El Super Taco? I went during normal dinner hours but it wasn't that busy, a proper explanation to the subar steam table meats.

                        1. re: fooddude37

                          Busiest time seems to be lunch. But I'm confused -- do you think the meat is more likely to be steam tabled when it's busy or quiet? I've been assuming the carne asada is better during periods of high traffic, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be the case.

                      3. I've only been to 2 places that you mention, Loteria and El Parian. The food at Loteria has always been good, both Red and Green Chilaqules (sp?) for breakfest and various Tacos later in the day. Those tiny little cups of Habanero Salsa are great on the tacos. I agree that they are overpriced and usually just grab a snack there when I'm passing by, I don't feast there.

                        When I've gone to El Parian, it has always been great (except for the stale Tostitos). The first time that I went there I got 3 Tacos, 1 with each meat and all were so tasty. I had good service and no unplesant issues with customers or anyone else!

                        1. Also of note: Loteria and El Parian serve their tortillas fresh to order (and if not to order- at least are hand made), a standard that is just one foundational building block to a great taco.

                          1. Sorry to hear about your bad experience at El Parian. I go there for lunch every once in a while, and in contrast to some, I like the asada much more than the goat. Maybe our tastes are just different, or maybe you hit them on a bad night.

                            On the "unwelcome" point, I usually show up with a couple of pals, and we're all white businessmen in suits. None of us make any effort whatsoever to order in Spanish, nor could we. (We're Gringos, and that's how we roll.) In spite of this, we've never had a problem or been made to feel unwelcome. Typically we provoke bemusement; hostility, never. (Well, actually, the stale tostitos make me feel a little unwelcome, but that's another issue, and I've certainly not been singled out in that respect.)

                            Anyway, hope you give them another try, but would understand if you didn't. (There are a lot of places to try out there, and I've been known to write a place off after a single bad experience.)

                            1. re: El Parian - sounds like your order was forgotten vs. you were singled out -- but who knows - perhaps a bad day. I was also VERY disappointed in my visit there. The carne was good - but far too juicy for my liking - large cubes of meat. My birria taco was the dissapointment for me - WAY too oily and lacked the flavor I was hoping it would have. I also found the tortillas to be quite dry. Have no desire to go back... but glad I tried it.