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What is the lure of King Taco?

Had to run up to LA yesterday and stopped at King Taco to pick up lunch for my crew. After spending $60 on five of everything they have, I took it back to the shop and we ate.

The tacos were good but Boca del Rio is ten times better, as is the little taco shop down on Glassell in Orange.

The tamales were mostly masa and very little filling.

The burritos were better, but still nothing to drive miles for.

What gives? Why is King Taco so desired?

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  1. Personally, I like the tacos.

    1. Pretty good tacos and even better salsa roja!

      2 Replies
      1. re: sel

        The best al pastor tacos and burritos (the carne asada ain't too shabby either) at a tremendous price with the absolute best salsa roja in L.A.

        1. re: PaliBruin

          I had heard about King Taco for years from positive posts on this board. I finally got around to heading to the Pasadena location just this past weekend. For a joint that's got a McDonald's fast-food feel to it, they served up same fantastic (and cheap!) tacos. $1.25 per taco is just slightly more than you'd pay at your local roach coach (or taco table) and as PaliBruin says, the al pastor tacos were fantastic.... a serious rival to my favorite shabby little taco table on Vermont and Venice. I never thought it could happen!

          Mr Taster
          Protect Chowhound
          Boycott Avatars!

      2. I ate at the Broadway location for the first time a few weeks ago. I wasn't all that impressed. It was just okay. I saw them pull a bag of pre-cut and bagged carne asada from the freezer. They then just through it on the grill to heat up and fry. I'm guessing that its made somewhere else, frozen and shipped to the different locations.

        1. I don't think it is fair to judge a taco place on long-drive take-out. Burritos travel a bit better. As noted, King Taco has a good roja and if you didn't take enough or your taco loses its heat when doused with the salsa...

          King Taco to me is too much a chain. Meat is good, portions are measured. I think most places down the street will outperform stands with tacos brought in from a distance.

          1. Boca Del Rio is a thousand times better than King Taco. I have tried several King Taco locations about once a year over the last decade and have never been happy. Over priced, small amounts, nothing special about it -- that is King Taco. I think the reason King Taco (a chain) is popular is that many people want something more authentic than Del Taco but are not willing to try the small mom & pop taco stands, or maybe they are just open later. The tacos at Boca Del Rio are reasonably priced with large amounts of meat and cheese and several special kinds of meats to choose from. The salsa is also very special at Boca Del Rio. What made me decide I will not return to King Taco is their poor example of sopes. Those corn patties were not fresh-made and tasted like a mass produced store bought sopes. The price was way out of line. I like sopes to be fresh made and a little crispy. The best sopes I have had were from My Taco in Highland Park – perfect. The masa was fresh and the fresh crispy patty was large and hot – not reheated from the fridge. The second best fresh made sopes I have had were from Antojitos on Peck Rd. in El Monte, just north of another overpriced King Taco.

            Boca Del Rio
            (626) 917-0311
            1163 N Hacienda Blvd
            La Puente, CA

            My Taco
            6300 York Blvd.
            Highland Park, CA 90042
            Mon-Weds: 8am to 9pm
            Thurs.-Sun: 8am to 10pm

            4721 1/2 Peck Rd
            El Monte, CA
            (626) 279-2109

            12 Replies
            1. re: JeetJet

              Boca Del Rio is a different beast, what with the sour cream, the avocado sauce the jack cheese. I do like Boca, but it is different, you can not compare a King Taco or or El Gran Burrito taco to Boca, very different.

              1. re: Burger Boy

                Yes, I can compare a King Taco taco to a Boca Del Rio taco and the Boca Del Rio taco is a thousand times better than the King Taco taco. Also, The My Taco sopes are a thousand times better than the King Taco sopes. Maybe if the sour cream, avocado and cheese are an issue you can get a regular taco at Boca without the extra stuuf. Still, it is a thousand times better.

                1. re: JeetJet

                  Jeet, where do you like in Pasadena for tacos? Do you think Boca del Rio is worth driving for, or is there somewhere local, in Pasadena, that's comparable? Thanks.

                  1. re: katkoupai

                    For a Pasadena location I like the asada at Tops more than the asada at King Taco. However, since I go to several other places for tacos I do not get tacos from Tops when I go there. When I go to Tops I get something they do better with asada than any other place I have been to -- their Asada Tostada. The asada is tender and the marinade is very good and goes well in a salad. I like to use their green salsa as a dressing. IMO to be in Pasadena and planning to eat asada it would be a shame not to order the their Asada Tostada. Likewise, if you really wanted a taco then either drive to El Parian or Boca Del Rio.

                    3838 E Colorado Blvd
                    Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
                    (626) 449-4412

                    El Parian Restaurant (Asada, Tacos).
                    1528 W. Pico Blvd.
                    Los Angeles
                    (213) 386-7361
                    Just West of the Harbor Fry. (They LOOK to be closed from the street but open the door).

                    Boca Del Rio
                    1163 N Hacienda Blvd
                    La Puente, CA
                    (626) 917-0311

                  2. re: JeetJet

                    i don't know about that. boca sounds like a whole different animal to me.

                    1. re: rameniac

                      it is different, but good in its own way, very filling.

                      1. re: rameniac

                        "sounds like..." Sounds like you have not even tried it. I can understand that when one beef taco is a thousand times better than another beef taco it may seem wrong to compare them. But these tacos are the same animal -- beef, the same beast, -- beef. I am not talking shrimp vs. beef here. I thought this is about the use of beef in tacos. Lets agree on this, try them both and --- compare on which you would rather have again.

                        1. re: JeetJet

                          i freely admit i haven't tried it. never said i had. but at the same time, judging by your description, it does "sound like" you're talking about something else altogether.

                          for the record, the al pastor tacos that el taurino / king taco are known for are specifically spit-roasted, sheperd-style pork. the OP was asking what makes king taco special, and that's pretty much it. so perhaps we are talking about two different things?

                          1. re: rameniac

                            El Taurino is so much better than King Taco

                            1. re: Burger Boy

                              I thought the same company owned both???

                              1. re: mc michael

                                They do, but in my opinion El Taurino is better, they also do goat at El Taurino.

                2. Boca del Rio sounds really good.

                  I like King Taco because the prices are reasonable, the food tastes good, and the turnover rate is high. It's also in my neighborhood.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: katkoupai

                    It is good, just very different! Like La Taquiza is different from El Gran Burrito, both good, I give the edge to La Taquiza, but El Gran is less than a mile from me and LT is about 7 or 8 miles! And Boca is great if I am in the neighborhood!

                  2. I sure loved their burritos al pastor with that delicious hot salsa. Too bad I live in the Bay now.

                    1. Fresh ingredients. I believe they don't use lard. The best best sopes: the thick tortilla is so fresh and not dried out, they put on just the right amount of refried beans and meat.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: slacker

                        Maybe it is the lard I'm missing.

                      2. King Taco's carne asada is mediocre and I don't care for their burritos. Much better is their al pastor and sopes. I would never get tamales there

                        1. The only thing that is great at KT are the al pastor tacos - just make sure to get them with no onions added. There are carmelized ones as part of the pastor. The raw ones cancel out the flavor of the cooked ones. El Metete in Highland park & pasadena are also good. Nothing beats Cactus #1 on Vine.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: alkyd9

                            I like the agua frescas at El Metate in Pasadena. They make them with real fruit, as opposed to powder or syrup. Their watermelon aqua fresca is yummy.

                            1. re: alkyd9

                              It's popular because it's clean, predictable and familiar. I've eaten at the Pasadena (Old Town) one a couple times and see no reason to return, but I got the carne asada which I guess is what not to get.

                              What's good at Cactus on Vine?

                              1. re: cant talk...eating

                                Where do you go for carne asada in Pasadena?

                                1. re: katkoupai

                                  The best King Taco location is the one on 3rd near the 710. A lot of their other locations don't measure up. The sopes are pretty damn good there, but I don't get carne asada. The pastor is good, but I ALWAYS order the cabeza and the lengua which is very good there.

                                  1. re: velozo155

                                    Thanks. I'll try to check this location out this summer.

                                    1. re: velozo155

                                      That and the location on Olympic are the best. Personally I can get better for cheaper at the local taco trucks, the advantages of living in the REAL east Los Angeles. Highland Park and the likes are NOT in EAST LOS ANGELES.

                                      And to answer the original question about why people like it I guess you have to read The Great Taco Hunt blog. There is a good post about the Olympic location as well as MANY other joints in the Greater Los Angeles area.
                                      Just good reading.


                                    2. re: katkoupai

                                      Um, Highland Park. Actually, here's a thread from a couple years ago. Note address correction of winner later in post.


                                      1. re: cant talk...eating

                                        Yes. Thank you. This is a good post. Rosarito #2 on Lake and Orange Grove is my fav place in Pasadena right now. Where do you like in Highland Park?

                                        1. re: katkoupai

                                          "My Taco" overall.

                                          But, the langostina tacos at the patio place across from the carwash on Figueroa just so. of Ave. 52 are pretty awesome.

                                    3. re: cant talk...eating

                                      Everything is great at Cactus. They don't always have al pastor. They make it the traditional way - sliced fresh off the spit. Cactus #1 is on Vine south of SM, N of Melrose. #2 is on 3rd?

                                  2. HC,

                                    Can you tell me the cross street for the taco place in Orange on Glassell? I'm in that area often and would love to try it.



                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Moose

                                      It is a basic taco in a very basic setting, but good. Solid.

                                      If you are north bound on Glassell, heading past Katella, at the split stay right (Orange Olive). You will pass a big park on the right side, pull in the driveway past Grove Street on the right.

                                      They are the second door on the right.

                                      Again, nothing fancy, just good solid tacos and burritos.

                                    2. King Taco is so desired and popular because of their salsas. I eat there every week for informal business lunches and when friends come over. All of the people that I have taken there who put either the red or green salsa on their tacos or burritos, especially with cilantro and onions, think that King Taco is fabulous. The people who do not eat salsa, especially those who do not eat cilantro and onions, often say that it was just "ok" or "bland". If you really know your salsas then you will realize that the ones at King Taco are pretty tasty compared to most other taco places.

                                      1. The King Taco empire was built on their salsas. If you don't eat spicy things, then King Taco is just another taco stand. If you love and appreciate mexican salsa, then you know why this mediocre taco stand is so busy. The salsas are addictive.

                                        3 Replies
                                          1. re: ribeyemediumrareplease

                                            you hit the nail on the head! i always wish king taco would sell some pico de gallo and fresh fried tortilla chips (instead of the stale commercial bags you could get at a bad supermarket).

                                            1. re: zack

                                              My mom likes El Pollo Loco (don't ask...) mostly for the black beans side order, but since I never tried I dropped into the KT at Los Angeles/Washington Blvd. I got the whole chicken special which was really reasonable, but mostly not special, but I really did think the green salsa was pretty nice. My (so long ago) high school was sorely taxed, they don't speak much ingles there.

                                          2. Boca del Rio is not good. I've had it several times(La Puente) and it's not great. I eat there as a last resort. I have literally dozens of relatives that cater at parties (taco islands/stands) and that are butchers by profession and they all say the same thing. King taco may not be the most authentic(nachos?), but in taste it trumps Boca(meat has a lot of nerve and is tawny and chewy; sour cream? cheese? guacamole?) and is not bland. With King Taco I think it has something to do with how they marinate their meats, it's different from so many other Mexican taco places and that's what makes them unique and has earned them a loyal following, I know many American patrons (and some Mexican) can't really adjust their tastebuds from other places(particularly tex-mex). However I have seen that in the Baldwin Park King Taco many Asian and white customers do like KT as much as the Mexican-american customers. Really though all locations are great and the sopes, tacos, burritos are great--asada or al pastor--tamales their average store bought type tamales, but then again you do not go to King Taco for the tamales(they are a recent addition to the menu, only a few years old)
                                            Boca is just plain bad.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                              I'm asian and I LOVE KT

                                              Hell I was just there yesterday

                                              2 al pastor sopes and 2 al pastor tacos = heaven

                                              hell I might go there again for lunch today

                                            2. What's the name of the little taco shop down on Glassell in Orange, please ?

                                              EDIT: Oops never mind I see now that you've already given directions to it, above.

                                              1. King Taco is good, there is a place in Canoga Park that I like much better 1. is a truck that parks on the south side of Lanark Park (near Topanga & Roscoe) called "The Big Burrito" very good tacos&burritos. they also have a store on Canoga between Saticoy & Roscoe also called "The Big Burrito" I've only had the carne asada & the carnitas I like each of them equally, they do use a onion-cilantro mix so I have to get them without onions because I can't stand cilantro, but there red sauce is VERY good. tacos are small double stacked corn tortillas with meat onions and sauce (red or green). the burritos are good size have rice, beans, meat,onions and sauce. last time I was there the tacos were $1 and the burritos $3.50 or $4. same style food as King Taco just done better.