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Pinches Tacos

In the taco wasteland that is West Hollywood (let me know if I'm wrong...the closest good tacos that I find are at Cactus in Hollywood, and I like La Loteria a lot, though I know they are not popular with many on this board), a place called Pinches has opened up in the space on Sunset just West of Crescent Heights that used to be Julio's Taqueria. Julio's was terrible, fast food crud and it seemed dedicated to making the same food as over at Baja Fresh across the way, only not even as good as that (which is not good).
So I stopped in at Pinches tonight for take-home dinner.
They just opened Monday. They are obviously still working things out. Like the surroundings. While I was there, they were decorating -- hanging up sombreros and pictures on the walls and such. They are making it look better than Julio's for sure, though it is still a taco place in gringo territory, or better just to say, taco wasteland.
But enough already with the decoration, hey there is a pineapple over there rotating on top of the al pastor spit...
First good sign. So it got my hopes up. I ordered 4 tacos to go--one chorizo, al pastor, asada, and carnitas. I thought it a second good sign that they couldn't serve me the chorizo since they told me they had been supplied with chorizo that morning that they considered too greasy to use in tacos. So I got two al pastors instead.
Some guacamole and some refried beans and some chips.
Third good sign: they started putting some fresh limes in a bag for me. (They don't however have a salsa / toppings bar that you can access yourself, they do it for you.)
I have to say the tacos were pretty good. The thing above all was how fresh everything was. Definitely there was a lot of meat on these tacos--I don't necessarily think this is a good sign, but here, in taco wasteland, I'll take it.
The al pastors were good. Not as good as Cactus, not near as good as places like El Taco Llama in the valley, but good.
The carnitas was terrible. It was tasteless, dry, and the meat was cubed like dry roast pork. It wasn't crusted very much nor dissolving into fatty strings of roast pork. I wouldn't get the carnitas here at all unless things change. Note to Pinches: redo the carnitas!
But the asada....I don't usually love asada tacos. This one was OUTSTANDING. I loved it. The guy who was running the place made sure to say that the green tomatillo salsa was for the asada, which I didn't expect since I normally put red salsa on my asada. He said use the red on the other ones. He was right. This was a really great taco.
In taco wasteland!
Check it out, it is a good taco stand and a great one for the neighborhood.
Pinches Tacos
8200 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 650-0614
Open Mon-Wed 11am to Midnight; Thurs-Sat 11am to 4am! Sunday 11am to 10pm.
They told me they will start delivery soon too.
Owners listed on their menu as Javier, Jorge and Miguel Anaya....Cha Cha Cha?

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  1. I had lunch there today and thought it was pretty good. One of the better choices in that neighborhood. The Al Pastor was good, but the Chicken en Mole missed the mark. I think they should have taken a little more time to get their act together.

    Two main gripes. 1) $7.50 for a burrito seemed like much. 2) It really felt like they took the old taco place and slapped a new sign in a hurry. They even had the dusty old "Orange Bang" dispenser with a Out of Order sign on it.

    Kudos for having the cojones to name your restaurant Pinches Tacos. I'll put it this way, I'm never taking my Grandmother there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bsquared2

      Translation for the gringos... Pinche = Fuqn

    2. Thanks so much for the review. I live in taco wasteland as well and drive to Cactus all the time for their tacos. I'm glad to hear there is a closer option and with delivery. How much were the tacos?? Asada tacos are usually my favorite, so I'll definitely be checking them out...

      1 Reply
      1. re: erintoc

        It is taco wasteland prices I'm afraid. 2.95 for the asada taco. Ouch. It think it is the most expensive though.
        One added detail to the review that I forgot. The guacamole was pretty good, and I thought was a little chunky, or I saw some chunky bits in it, one pretty big. Gobbled it down looking forward to that big piece of avocado, and suddenly realized it was fully half of a very spicy jalapeño pepper. That was fun. But the ingredients are fresh....!

      2. Went to Pinches Tacos Wednesday night with my bf and we ordered 2 tacos al pastor... forced ourselves to finish them as the tortillas barely stayed together. They were dry and flavorless as was the meat.... we walked out wishing we had hit up a taco truck.

        1. Yes, it's owned by the Anaya brothers of Cha Cha Cha fame.


          1. Great carne asada tacos, the fish tacos weren't bad but the al pastor was extremely dry.

            1. Ate here 2 days in a row. Carne Asada is TERRIFIC. Yes, tortillas fall apart, wish they offered flour option. Al pastor was solid, shrimp worth ordering again, fish not so much.

              I live very close and will probably eat here once a week or more until I move. Carne Asada is that good.

              1. crazy how something so simple can be ruined so easily, i'm afraid that to call the items served at pinches tacos, tacos, is to insult all other taco stands and establishments that are worthy of the 2.50 that this place charges if not more, having grown up and still living amongst lucky and privileged ones that can walk to a great place and have a "real" taco, i have to say that pinches tacos are just that, pinches tacos, which in spanish slang, it's not necessarily a good thing, let me tell you

                everything about this place is poor, and falls very short of a place worth the hassle of getting to for a meal

                the parking situation is...well, almost non existing, the building facade gave me the sense that the designer was either in a hurry or is just not into this kind of project, the inside is interesting for a minute but then that is lost when ordering, the gentleman who was attending could not even pronounce al pastor, and was somewhat offended every time i did it correctly, then there was the kitchen personnel, they appeared confused, and with a look of disappointment on their faces

                so after paying the bill and feeling as if i had just been swindled, the anticipation was there anyhow, after all, most of the comments here were very positive and full of enthusiasm, my mouth watered and my belly rumbled with the descriptions i was reading

                so finally came the.....food, at first glance, they looked like tacos, they smelled tacos, but sadly, they were not tacos, the salsa is something that should be served at acapulcos or chevy's, the tortillas were not fully heated, and if anyone knows anything about tacos, they also know that cold tortillas are brittle and will fall apart, the al pastor too was not heated adequately, it was dry and lacking flavor and body, alas, the food was eaten up entirely, and in the process i got a flashback of when i was a young one, and my father would say to me that i had to clean my plate of all the food, which i did not like, otherwise i would not be able to join in the fun with the other kids...but as much as pinches cost, it would have hurt even more to have thrown it in the trash

                on a scale of 1 to 10, without hesitation, pinches tacos get a pinche -2.0, the best part of this experience, was walking out and knowing that returning would never happen, ever, thank god for the late night taco trucks scattered throughout that charge way less than half of what these guys do, and yet you get ten times more,

                buen provecho!

                11 Replies
                1. re: fgrade

                  I wouldn't normally want to respond to one of these "bomb"-like responses--fgrade indeed--since taste is singular and cannot be shared. But I want to respond in one way only. As opposed to being all full of positivity, I think all of the previous posts above mentioned things about this place that are just not good, not right. All of them saw, in other words, that this place is too expensive, is not exactly authentic, has some real clunkers on the menu. I hope that the ChaChaCha people read this and up the taco game they are playing at Pinches. I hope this because what I do know is that Pinches is for the moment the best taco in the area. If you don't think what they serve can be called a taco, you should have tried eating the "tacos" that were served in the place that came before it, Julio's (criticize that place for the design, Pinches just repainted the old restaurant hot pink). So it is not so interesting to compare Pinches to the amazing taco trucks you have access to at night in other parts of LA. You trying to torture us? In West Hollywood where are they? Let me know of a better taco in WeHo, and I am there. I'm tired of traveling for my tacos. I will go there tomorrow. I will come back here tomorrow night and flame all over this posting on Pinches. But I don't think you will make me do that. I would be happy if you did. Believe me. Very happy. However I was interested in posting on this new place since there are no good taco stands in WeHo and this one at least gets us close.

                  1. re: George

                    let us not lose focus of what is now with what was then, pinches is now, and unfortunately there are still no good tacos in w.h. the nearest place that serves an edible taco is probably 24 hour tacos on santa monica just west of vermont, if you like pinches you'll love 24 i'm sure

                    now, myself, i will not complain of the bad food or the absence of good food available in the area where i reside, myself, i will travel through traffic, rain, sleet or snow (when available), to get to a place to enjoy some good grub.....you're not a victim, and i don't feel bad for you, take a drive to the east side, and partake in the amazing taco trucks that "everybody" has access to at night and some during the day

                    time to be a little proactive in your culinary cravings

                    1. re: fgrade

                      "[T]he nearest place that serves an edible taco is probably 24 hour tacos on santa monica just west of vermont [...]"

                      El Gran Burrito? I'll admit that the tacos, burritos, etc., are strangely compelling creatures when I'm falling-down-drunk at 2a.m., but, c'mon, son, let's be honest: El Gran slangs dog meat.

                      Anyway, if we're dispensing tips here, I'll say this: far better antojitos can be found at the nighttime trucks which park on Western Avenue between SMBlvd. and Fountain. And, unless you know of a trompo master that makes tortillas by hand, I defy you to find better tacos al pastor than those served on weekend nights at Rincon Oaxaqueno Restaurant. Killer, killer, killer.


                      El Matador Taco Truck
                      Western & Lexington

                      Mi Terasita Taco Truck
                      Western & Lexington

                      Armando's Hot Food Taco Truck
                      Western & Fountain

                      Rincon Oaxaqueno Restaurant
                      1544 N Western Ave.


                      1. re: Erik M

                        i've never been so drunk that i lose touch with my taste buds to the point of being able to eat k9, at any time of the morning, mijo, learn how to handle your liquor, you're gonna hurt yourself

                        24 hour tacos is exactly that, tacos........and burritos and tortas, which are alright, no biggie really

                        the comparison was with an in-mobile establishment, that serves tacos all week long, not just on the weekends by a trompo master....focus

                        1. re: Erik M

                          o.k. my girl and i did the western taco crawl this weekend (except for mi terasita, cause' they weren't there), and i must say....the tacos were good....well, better than pinches, but that was pretty much expected, rincon oaxaqueno serves some very good al pastor tacos, very very good, but the waiter's response to our request for a menu was as if we had asked for some top secret information, the beers were warm, and i think the chips are upon request only

                          overall, i don't think we'll be going to back, we're sticking with our own taco crawl, and will keep experimenting with other places we run into during our search for "good" food

                          thanks for the tips anyways

                          1. re: fgrade

                            "[T]he waiter's response to our request for a menu was as if we had asked for some top secret information [...]"

                            Sí, mi hermano, entiendo. ¿Él está en SU país, no?


                            1. re: Erik M

                              Have you West Hollywooders tried Los Tacos on Santa Monica Blvd about 1.5 blocks west of Fairfax? I've never tried their tacos but I went there a couple of times after an evening at the late Belly for burritos and was very satisfied.
                              For al pastor tacos, I think the truck that parks at Olympic and La Brea after 7p is worth it.

                              1. re: Wolfgang

                                Second the Olympic & La Brea truck, in my Mid-City 'hood. Not WeHo per se, or only in real estate NewSpeak, but very good Al Pastor if our WeHo neighbors are willing to drive a bit down South.

                                1. re: Wolfgang

                                  Re: Olympic/La Brea truck

                                  I lived in that neighbourhood for awhile and I agree with you, it is worth a visit. All the same, if you find yourself in East Hollywood on a weekend night I'd encourage you to try the tacos al pastor at Rincon Oaxaqueno.

                                  Like the best of them, the man tending the spit at R.O. is a real artisan. For hours on end he is a blur of motion, shaping and grooming the meat just so, ensuring that each section receives the proper amount of heat and char. Most importantly, he never griddles the meat from the spit or holds it in waiting: he shaves it directly onto lightly greased tortillas, then finishes it off with slivers of pineapple which are deftly removed from the fruit atop the spit with a flick of his wrist.


                                2. re: Erik M

                                  Si, mi hermano......entiendo?

                                  le pedimos el menu en espanol, y si hubiera sido en ingles, creo que la respuesta y reaccion hubiera sido igual, porque el mesero habla y entinde el idioma......no?

                                  anyhow, thanks again for the tips

                              2. re: Erik M

                                Mi Terasita has an awesome carne asada burrito

                        2. Yow this post has gotten loco. Thanks for tips, no tips forthcoming for West Hollywood though, which was the point. (I haven't tried the place on Santa Monica west of Fairfax, I should though it seems.)
                          I went back to Pinches two nights back. Got two kick-a__ carne asada tacos again, as the earlier times. I don't get the complaints about the tortillas here. I watched closely as they were pressed by hand from masa in a bowl, and then the formed disks cooked on the griddle. They were made fresh to order in other words.
                          Other things continue to be bumpy. Ordered horchata, and it was so, so wrong. How hard can it be in LA to get these things right Pinches?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: George

                            I don't mean to raise this post from the dead, but I wanted to throw another taco spot in West Hollywood out there for George - El Chile in the shopping complex with Whole Foods at Fairfax and Santa Monica. I live walking distance from here and was at Whole Foods when this small shop caught my eye. I ordered the taco lunch special for $6.99 - 4 tacos, with chips, salsa, and a drink. The tortilla chips were dreadful and so greasy they were not edible. However, I was surprised about the tacos - no, I don't think the tortillas were made fresh on the premises. However, the meat was plentiful (I liked the shredded beef and chicken the best) and the salsa had a nice bite to it. These are not outstanding tacos, more like okay. But, given that this post was originally about decent and cheap tacos in West Hollywood, I wanted to throw El Chile out there as an option. The tacos are significantly cheaper than Pinches at $1.85. There is a also a parking lot. I'll be back to El Chile since they deliver and I can quickly and cheaply satisfy my taco fix after grocery shopping. However, do not expect something amazing if you go!

                            1. re: erintoc

                              Thanks. I pass this place by all the time. I had lunch today at Los Burritos in the Trader Joe's plaza on Santa Monica. It was really pretty good. Cozy, old, mostly everyone speaking Spanish, lots of people eating menudo, some enchiladas, I had two tacos and they were really delicious (asada and carnitas), both meats, including the asada, more stews than roasts/grilled.