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Al Pastor...where is the best?

Ok, I am a little late to the Al pastor party. Where have I been? I have a new obsession....

I was at one my favorite Mexican Restaurants in the Valley: Dos Arbuletos and in a adventurous mood I ordered 4 Al Pastor tacos... my goodness that is some good eatin'! The only other time I had Al pastor was at Carnitas Loya in Arleta. At CL their pastor was more finely ground and almost a spread of pork and spices, however at DA it was chopped carnitas drenched in a delicious marinade... I like them both. So hounds lead me to some more great Al Pastor in the SFV area ...well heck I'm a true hound, I drive for the good stuff!

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  1. I'm also a fan of Tacos Al Pastor, you will have a very hard time finding a spot that carves it right off the spit-in my opinion this is the best way to enjoy a taco al pastor. When I visit Tijuana these tacos are my first stop. Now for the Valley the 2 closest spots that are tasty I would suggest woule be:

    Fast Taco in Chatsworth on Desoto
    or
    Casita Taco in North Hollywood on Magnolia

    Hope this helps,

    Stuart

    6 Replies
    1. re: Hypnotic23

      Thanx Stuart I will give Fast Taco a try today... wow, I can't imagine having it carved right off the spit , maybe in East LA?

      1. re: wizardx

        Yes, and apparently per the taco gurus here, the good stuff will also have a roasting pineapple on that spit, dripping rivulets of sweet tang down upon the roasting meat. You get a shaving of the pineapple along with the tender meat flesh. Mmm...

        1. re: wizardx

          Carnitas Michoacan downtown serves al pastor from a rotating spit.

          1. re: hrhboo

            I second the al pastor at Carnitas Michaocan, the location north of Chinatown on North Broadway and 19th. Very informal place -- order at one window, pick up at another, eat on a large covered patio. Everything there is good, cheap, and generous, but the real gem is their dark salsa roja -- brick-red brown, thin, smoky, spicy, complex, delicious and perfect. Their al pastor is carved from a rotisserie spit, but unfortunately it is often served from a warming pan, especially if the meat on the spit is not sufficiently caramelized and ready. I sometimes specify that I want mine fresh-cut and I'm willing to wait, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

            1. re: nosh

              I recently picked up a burrito there on the way to the Dodger game and was pretty disappointed with the amount of fat in my burrito. Now, I realize that pork fat is a good thing to most, but some of it was gristly and the fat seemed to outweigh the non-fatty pieces of meat. My son had carne asada; I found that I enjoyed that so much more which is unusual as I much prefer pastor when given the choice.

              As it was my first visit there, I'm wondering if this is usual and that perhaps the problem is with me - I don't tend to be much of a fan of meat fat.

              1. re: nosh

                I do need to add that everything else we ordered was fantastic. The roja is out of this world.

        2. The busier ELA King Taco locations usually have very good al pastor, it is always fresh from all their turnover which makes a huge difference. Most places in town tend to keep one batch around all day and will have an old and dry reheated taste. Right now my favorite though is Tacos El Gallito truck in Harbor City. Not too greasy and fresh tasting.

          1. there's a great little taco table on vermont near pico where they carve the stuff right off the spit. i'd say that and el taurino are most excellent.

            1. El Taurino and Sergio’s in East L.A are favorites. Carnitas Michocoan also is excellent.

              www.infinitefress.blogspot.com

              1. La Taquiza on Figueroa near USC
                El Gran Burrito Vermont & Santa Monica

                Las Costas de Guerrero Great al Pasto, Mulitas, salsa & homemade Horchata
                "Ricas Taquizas"
                Taco Truck on Valley Blvd. east of Turnball Cyn. 1 or 2 blocks south side of street

                1 Reply
                1. re: Burger Boy

                  Las Costas de Guerro has a spit for the Al Pastor.

                2. The Sabor thing is becoming a little overdone at this point, but Sabor a Mexico on National has pastor cut right off the spit on Friday and Saturday nights.

                  The pastor itself is not overdone.

                  1. My favorite tacos al pastor are at Taqueria Vista Hermosa in the Mercado La Paloma: http://www.mercadolapaloma.com/restau... . Carved off the spit, and really nicely flavored. Nice homemade tortillas too.

                    The TAP at La Fogata (as the highly esteemed Dommy! notes here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/362022 ) are pretty damn good too.

                    1. Best I've had is at a pushcart on Cesar Chavez east of Gage. It moves around from night to night because it's unlicensed. But it's always somewhere within about five or six blocks east of Gage on Cesar Chavez. Fantastic al pastor, nearly as good as a couple of places I've had it in Tijuana.

                        1. re: trojanhorse

                          You're back. :)

                          I like King Taco, too, but I've never had their al pastor. I don't eat much pork. :)

                          Everything that I've had at King Taco has been good, though.

                          1. re: katkoupai

                            The problem at King Taco is whether to order AP or asada.

                            1. re: mc michael

                              I usually go for the carne asada. :)

                          2. re: trojanhorse

                            There is a taco truck that used to set up off of Santa Monica on Barry (which is just east of Barrington). Lately I think Don Doroteo has been setting up inside the Von's parking lot, I think he was being hasseled by the SMPD. He does not have the best al pastor, but for the west side it is pretty darn good. He also has some very good cabeza. I may just have to go there later tonite!

                            1. re: hambriento

                              When is this taco truck around? That area is not Santa Monica Police Department, but only steps away from the huge West L.A. station on Santa Monica Blvd at Butler. No wonder that truck needs to be careful, but if they are good they will earn police patronage and protection! ;-) I am a big Nook fan in that minimall at Santa Monica at Barry, and that Von's at Barrington is one of the most moribund around. El Super Taco up the street next to Monte Alban has tasty seasoned al pastor tacos for a buck with a great habanero salsa on their bar, but it is not grilled from a spit.

                              1. re: nosh

                                Does anyone have more info on this truck?

                                Also, on the subject of taco trucks, the al pastor at the Cemitas truck on Venice in front of the Smart and Final is quite tasty. Not from a spit, but hot and crisp without the gristle that sometimes afflicts pastor.

                          3. If you're a little bit adventurous you might want to go on a weekend evening to East L.A. Cruise the major streets, (Olympic is a good one to start with) and look for the illegal taco carts with the spit of al pastor with the pineapple on top AND the smoke from an actual fire cooking the meat. Although a number of establishments have the spit, only the illegal taco carts actually cook the meat with fire instead of the electric heater. This is about as close to an Al Pastor taco in Mexico as you will find in L.A.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: mcmal

                              How far down Olympic? Approximate cross streets?

                              1. re: hrhboo

                                West of where the freeways meet and where the huge King Taco is. Thinking about it, there's one reoccuring stand I've been to a few times a block or two from the King Taco, on the same side of the street, that serves the real deal. I also found a great one on Cesar Chavez a couple of months ago. But again, you should drive around the area streets and look for the smoke and the large numbers of people gathered around. (and it' not just East L.A.; other hispanic neighborhoods also have these. I ate at one on Vermont, south of Sunset a couple of months ago that had terrific Al Pastor)

                                1. re: mcmal

                                  Thanks, I'll drive around there and see what I find!

                            2. I am a HUGE fan of al pastor, and the best I have found is El Chato (taco truck on La Brea & Olympic), Chema's Tacos (Whittier blvd & ~Hadley), Beto's Tacos (La Brea & Jefferson), & King Taco/El Taurino. The Surfer Taco truck in downtown in also good.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mdpilam

                                where and what is the surfer taco truck that you speak of? curious...

                              2. just a note to you al pastor lovers, i went to mexico city and was so blown away by the al pastor tacos at califa. it was really one of those revelatory experiences... and i troll highland park and east la stopping at like 6 taco stands in one go.

                                1. Best AP I have ever had (and I have had many) is from a small place in the back of a neighborhood market in Pasadena. It is called Exquicitos Tacos and is located on the corner of Hammond & Summit (1 block east of Raymond & 1 block north of Mountain). They have their cart out front during lunchtime and evenings (except they close at 2 on Sundays). Best day to get it is Friday (he gets his meat shipment on Thursdays for AP so I have gone there on Wednesdays and Thursdays and found that he has run out). Try it - it is really good. Tacos $1, huge burritos $4.

                                  1. Sorry wizardx, this is not in the valley. For craved of the spit pastor, try Cactus #1 in Hollywood on Vine, south of SM, splendid. I was a big fan of KT, but thanks to our fellow CH's, I tried Rosarito's #2 on N. Lake, in Pasadena. While not craved, it is still very good.. I must try WildSwedes rec on Summit, it sounds good.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: alkyd9

                                      WildSwede's Summit and Hammond place is really really good. I don't know if it's the best al pastor I've ever had, but it's certainly the best in Pasadena and the surrounding areas. They've also got pretty awesome tripe tacos, if you're into that.

                                    2. Try Las Fuentes Restaurant on Vanowen just east of Reseda Blvd in Reseda. Their carnitas as excellent, and their Carne con Queso taco is amazing.

                                      1. El Taurino on Hoover just south of Olympic has incredibly great al pastor. They also have some crazy good salsa rojo. The speed is real terrible for how many people they have working there and I have never figured out their window system but the food is worth the wait. They also serve cheap pitchers, so its basically got everything.

                                        1. Hole Mole serves up decent Al pastor burritos and tacos, great value. they have 2 locations in Long Beach.

                                          1. If you go to East LA and walk on Whittier (more after 5PM) you'll come accross several taco trucks and some will have the tacos al postor on the spit - the one I found on the corner of Olympic had good al pastor and decent carne asada but no pinapple. On the other hand on the corner of Telegraph and Downey, by the entrance of freeway 5, there is an amazing taco stand (I think they open around 7PM and they are around 5 days a week) with tacos al carbon, they don't have al pastor but they have tacos de carne asada al carbon among other meats. The meat quality is good. They even have 3 types of salsas including the hard to find salsa de aguacate! It's run by two super friendly women and if you go there ask for Laura and say that Julia from Marina del Rey referred you. Laura explained to me that there are 3 grades of meat that are typically used for carne asada, the best one is carne ranchera followed by carne de diesmillo. Laura uses diesmillo and says that in that neighbourhood people don't really wanna pay more to get the higher end meat. She also said that a lot will be depend on how it's marinated. I highly recommend this place!