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REVIEW: El Super Taco

w
Wolfgang Mar 10, 2008 11:47 AM

After wanting to try El Super Taco for a couple of months, I finally made my way up there on Sunday. I'd attempted to go to Tacos Por Favor but it closes at 5p on Sundays. It was either driving to Venice for the consistent truck on Rose or trying El Super Taco.

I ordered a carnitas taco and al pastor taco and an asada burrito. While waiting, I filled a plastic ramekin with one of each salsa and their onion/cilantro mix.

The tacos:

Al Pastor: Not the al pastor on a spit kind; instead, they rely on a red paste to impart flavor to the meat. The tacos come with just meat on 2 tortillas for $1.10. It was decent but not something that you'd hurry back to have another. It was essentially a canvas for the onions/cilantro and salsas.

Carnitas: The meat looked like stewed white meat chicken and didn't taste much different. No crispy bits, no browning and no flavour. It could've been a tofu taco but with the salsas it was enjoyable.

Burrito: This was the best of the group and a good Westside value at $3.99. There could've been more meat and less beans but what meat there was was nicely flavoured. It was a nice rounded burrito. I would've liked them to put a hot sauce/salsa inside so I wouldn't have to load up every bite with it, but maybe next time they could do this.

Salsas: My favourites were the green tomatillo and the reddish orange. The reddish orange salsa was delicious. I was happy with a combination of both of these and a sprinkling of tapatio.
I dipped my finger in the pale orange very hot salsa and got almost no flavour and a LOT of heat. That was enough for me.

I'd go back for the burrito and an asada taco and more of the red-orange salsa.

  1. p
    potofood Mar 10, 2008 02:29 PM

    Thank-you for the review.Where is El Super Taco.

    2 Replies
    1. re: potofood
      w
      Wolfgang Mar 10, 2008 02:54 PM

      On Santa Monica and Brockton in a strip mall, the same mall that houses Monte Alban.

      I believe that it's the old Mama Voulas space.

      1. re: Wolfgang
        b
        broncosaurus Mar 10, 2008 03:17 PM

        "I dipped my finger in the pale orange very hot salsa and got almost no flavour and a LOT of heat. That was enough for me. "

        Thanks for the warning. ;)

    2. r
      ronsilverado Mar 12, 2008 01:36 PM

      i have to disagree with you about the pastor. it is somewhat unconventional, but that is sort of what i dig about it it. the spicing the use gave it an unusual, almost indian sort of flavor, very different and, in my opinion, very good.

      1. j
        Jwsel Mar 12, 2008 06:54 PM

        I went to El Super Taco and came away decidedly unimpressed. The taco fillings were bland and none of the salsas had a combination of flavor and bite. Bandini's blog gave it 4 stars, putting it at the same level as King Taco, Tacos La Fonda, and El Taco Llama (the good ones). El Super Taco does not even come close to comparing to those places. It may be the best taqueria on the westside (I was pretty unimpressed with Tacos Por Favor), but that's damning with faint praise.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jwsel
          a_and_w Apr 7, 2008 02:17 PM

          Skip the tacos at El Super Taco and try the tortas, as others have mentioned. I'm also partial to the super burrito al pastor ordered *without* lettuce and salsa.

        2. m
          mistr Mar 12, 2008 08:23 PM

          yeah, their tacos are boring. i actually think their salsas are rather bland too. the only thing to get there are the tortas.

          i'm no torta expert, but i think they're pretty great, and if it's busy you'll notice that everyone is ordering tortas. at least that's the case when i'm there.

          6 Replies
          1. re: mistr
            m
            mdpilam Mar 16, 2008 07:26 PM

            Yeah, the tortas are the thing to get here. I think Don Felix and Tacos Don Jorge have the best westside tacos (oh, and chorizo & cheese at TPF).

            1. re: mdpilam
              a
              agarose2000 Mar 24, 2008 05:57 PM

              I live by El Super Taco, and while fairly cheap for tacos and not bad overall, the tacos are a bit small, and altogether unimpressive, in my opinion. I'd have no opinion whatsoever swapping it out for any other local taco joint.

              I do have to give another big thumbs up to Tacos Por Favor on Olympic for their chorizo/cheese tacos and burritos. They're a bit pricey, probably not "authentic" (whatever that means nowadays) but wow, what a flavor punch. between the cheese and high-quality chorizo. I wasn't altogether impressed with anything else on their menu, but I'd go back for the chorizo/cheese alone at Tacos Por Favor.

              I'll have to add that I was spectacularly underwhelmed by the glowing reviews given to Tacomiendo, which is about a mile or two near El Super Taco, off Pico. I really can't understand all the fuss about this one - I've been there 3 times now, have tried several meats and other options, and all times have felt that it was below average regardless of what I ordered, and not at all too inexpensive.

              1. re: agarose2000
                a_and_w Apr 7, 2008 02:15 PM

                Love Tacos Por Favor, but mainly for the chorizo and cheese. I'm not so high on the other fillings such as carne asada and al pastor.

                1. re: a_and_w
                  w
                  wooster Apr 11, 2008 12:07 PM

                  The chorizo and cheese at Por Favor is my favorite. I make them add potato and eat it for breakfast.

                  About Super Taco: Love it. U-zen, the sushi place across Brockton is good too.

                  1. re: wooster
                    Frommtron Apr 11, 2008 12:54 PM

                    Totally. Absolutely. Brilliant.

            2. re: mistr
              a_and_w Apr 7, 2008 02:18 PM

              If you like the tortas at El Super Taco, check out Taqueria Sanchez.

            3. w
              wooster Apr 7, 2008 02:05 PM

              Super Taco makes great carne asada, suadero, and cabeza tacos. The others are mediocre to just plain not good. The clayuda is amazing. It took be about a year of going there to finally order it because the first ingredient is listed as "sediment lard" and I still don't know what that means, but it was insanely good. I definitely think this place is better than King Taco, but not as good as a lot of hole-in-the-wall places I have been, like the one on Sawtelle/Washington.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wooster
                a_and_w Apr 7, 2008 02:14 PM

                Al pastor is better than the carne asada at El Super Taco, imo.

              2. Frommtron Apr 8, 2008 12:47 AM

                I gotta come to the defense of this place as I think it's quite good. I think they've got some strengths and I hope some of you who were disappointed will be intrigues enough to give it another try.

                First, let's set some expectations. King Taco is very good. The salsas are amazing, the meat can be great but can just as often be mediocre, the tortillas are fine, which is kind of saying they are disappointing given all of the tortillarias next door. Overall, one hell of a taco on most days and when the meat is off the salsas might actually be good enough to make you forget that point. It's one of the best but we can nitpick it to death if we want is the point.

                So what about El Super Taco . . .

                Let's start with the salsas -- they've got a great selection with a variety of heat and tang. If you think they're bland, well, maybe you're half right. They aren't the best in the city but they are more than adequate. What they really could use is a larger dose of salt. I'm not sure if they leave them underseasoned because they exect you to add salt al gusto or if they are excercising poor judgment but the backbone of a very good salsa is there.

                Tortillas -- Decent. Not housemade, but the best tacos don't always get the benefit of that either. They're . . . non-descript but fresh.

                Meat -- Hit or miss in more ways than one; certain meats might best be avoided while others might suffer from inconsistency. The carnitas are boring yes. Not bad but not actually good. Probably best to avoid. The carne asada can be really nice, especially if they are busy and you're not getting the parcooked left overs from the lunch rush. The al pastor is indeed NOT spit roasted as far as I can tell but that is much rarer to find at good taco trucks than most of us would like. It might be more of an adobado but I thought it warranted a 3.5-4 out of 5 stars. It's always been moist and very well seasoned during my visits. Also, with the al pastor you get some beatifully grilled onions with that taco -- a very nice touch. The suadero has always been dry for me unfortunatly. The cabeza has been moist, tender though and the choizo is also really nice. All in all, expect a very good taco if you avoid the carnitas.

                Now for the really good stuff -- The tortas are beautifully toasted using a panini press and they are filled generously. The bread is fresh -- since they're located next to a Mexican convenience store/carniceria they get a fresh order of bread and tortillas daily.

                The clayudas are just plain awesome. They are smeared with that sediment lard that wooster described. Sediment lard just means that some of the skin/cracklins are still in the lard and aren't filtered out. It should appear a blond or caramel color with bits of cracklins suspended in it. That provides tremendous flavor (and is actually lower in saturated fat than butter if that matters to you). They fill the clayuda generously with string cheese, beans, meat of your choice, etc. THEN, these guys will fold the clayuda in half and char-grill it. All other clayudas I've had are open-faced and lack any char on the bottom. It's like a good pizza that has some lightly burnt patches on the bottom. Sublime. Honestly.

                So, if for no other reason, give the very good torta or the truly special clayuda a go next time and see if they can't win you back.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Frommtron
                  a_and_w Apr 8, 2008 07:43 AM

                  I gotta try that clayuda. I'm also with you re the salsas -- I like that they have the creamy avocado type in addition to the usual suspects. I can confirm that the al pastor is NOT spit-roasted.

                  1. re: Frommtron
                    v
                    vinosnob Apr 8, 2008 08:47 AM

                    You nailed it with the clayuda rec; that's the reason to go there...

                    1. re: vinosnob
                      a
                      agarose2000 Apr 10, 2008 07:19 PM

                      I'm giving it ONE last chance to surprise me this weekend.

                      Clayuda and tortas it is, with chorizo or cabeza.

                      I don't expect to be "wowed" at a budget place like this, but that said, if it's underwhelming, I'm never going there again!! Will post again as I try it.

                      1. re: agarose2000
                        a_and_w Apr 11, 2008 08:10 AM

                        BTW, have you tried Taco Plus on Bundy? The tortillas and salsas are nothing special, but the al pastor and carne asada are excellent -- a notch above El Super Taco. I actually prefer they're meat to Tacomiendo's, though the latter has a more extensive menu.

                        1. re: agarose2000
                          v
                          vinosnob Apr 11, 2008 08:53 AM

                          I'd go with cabeza...

                          1. re: vinosnob
                            a
                            agarose2000 Apr 13, 2008 02:44 PM

                            I just tryed the chorizo Clayuda (I think it's a Oaxacan-derived flat-toasted taco looking thing) from El Super Taco for my last chance to impress.

                            Not bad, and I liked the preparation which involves flame-grilling it over the stove burner - kind of cool to see the guys doing it. I've never had a clayuda before, so I've got nothing to compare it to; wasn't particularly impressive to me at $8.12, but I did like the originality of the choice for uniqueness sake. (I have no idea of this thing is offered in other taco places.) I definitely wouldn't make a dedicated trip to get this clayuda, however.

                            On the bright side, the Monte Alban restaurant right next door is a legit winner with their chocolate-mole dishes, and for only a few more dollars than the clayuda. There's no further debate for me here - I'm foregoing the discount foods at El Super Taco, and saving it all for more trips to Monte Alban! (And Tacos Por Favor!)

                            1. re: agarose2000
                              Frommtron Apr 13, 2008 03:54 PM

                              Fair enough! Yes. Monte Alban is supreme for lots of things, and not just for their mole negro.

                              That's too bad you didn't like the clayuda as much as I did. Traditionally, or at least as I have always had them, they are more akin to a topped flat bread or pizza and are not usually folded and char-grilled like they do at El Super Taco. Usually, I split them with a friend and get a taco to mix it up.

                    2. k
                      karamazov Apr 15, 2008 07:34 AM

                      Stopped by El Super Taco yesterday. Got an Al Pastor taco, a wet chicken burrito and the Muy Torta. Didn't finish all of this of course, but I wanted a good side by side comparison :). The Muy Torta basically has all the ingredients of other Tortas combined. Have to say was not particularly impressed with any of those.

                      The taco was good, especially thanks to the grilled onions, but the meat itself was not bad either, nothing special though and it didn't come with anything excep for that meat and onions.

                      The burrito had a ton of guac inside, some cheese/salsa, quite light on the beans and it could have used more meat. I had the special burrito with spinach at Tacos Por Favor just a few days earlier (been trying all burritos in the area :), and it was much better. More meat of higher quality, better balance of beans to salsa to other ingredients.

                      I had higher expectations for the torta based on what others here have said, but thoroughly disappointed with it as well. The worst part is the bread - it's just not good sandwich bread. I think it's so dry and thick to begin with, that frying it on the panini press actually makes it worse because it doesn't add any flavor and makes it even more dry. It doesn't really toast anything on the insidie either. The combination of black bean paste, guac, string cheese and mayo sounded promising, but you can't really taste them because either there is too little of them in the sandwich, or because there is too much bread. The meats - ham, milaneze (breaded/deep fried slices), headcheese were alright, but again there was too little of them, there was 1 thin slice of each. This isn't a deli sandwich with the meats piled high, I think it's like 80% bread. You can get a MUCH better sandwich for the money (~$6) without looking hard at all.

                      Didn't try the clayudas, so that may be better. I also think burritos with the more unusual meats like the cabeza and tripe might be much better than with the standard meats, so that may be worth going for. Also the salsa bar is the best around. Better than pretty much any other taqueria i've tried.

                      Anyways, I would highly recommend Monte Alban right next door. It's not the quick/cheap taqueria, but it ain't expensive either, and the food will be much more satisfying. Tacos Por Favor is also solid.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: karamazov
                        a
                        agarose2000 Apr 15, 2008 06:54 PM

                        Karamazov echoed what I experienced in my last episodes there and posted above.

                        Interestingly, I did get a taco craving over the weekend, and on a whim, went across the street over to the corner of Bundy to Taco Plus (in a 7-11 plaza). Tacos were $2.75ish, but twice the size and in my opinion, a lot better than El Super Taco with great meats. Worth a look for cheap eats - I'm heading here from now on (unless I can get to Tacos Por Favor for chorizo/cheese!)

                        1. re: agarose2000
                          a_and_w Apr 16, 2008 08:25 AM

                          On a whim? How about a little credit for the rec?

                          Anyway, the carne asada is among the best I've found on the west side. Al pastor is also excellent.

                          1. re: agarose2000
                            mollyomormon Apr 16, 2008 09:18 AM

                            There's also a Taco Plus on National in the same strip mall at Sushi Zo. I'm a fan of their shrimp quesadillas.

                          2. re: karamazov
                            a_and_w Apr 16, 2008 08:21 AM

                            Monte Alban is owned by the same people as El Super Taco, and the tortas are very similar.

                            1. re: a_and_w
                              w
                              Wolfgang Apr 16, 2008 10:04 AM

                              Interesting. The torta is the worst thing I've eaten at Monte Alban and the only thing that I'd tell someone to avoid.

                              1. re: Wolfgang
                                a_and_w Apr 16, 2008 10:10 AM

                                The tortas aren't my favorite at Monte Alban -- I'm more a mole guy -- but I certainly wouldn't tell people to avoid them. The quesadilla is the only thing I've tried there that I'd characterize as a "must avoid."

                                1. re: a_and_w
                                  a
                                  agarose2000 Apr 16, 2008 10:09 PM

                                  Woops - forgot to give a & w props for the Taco Plus pick! I definitely would not have gone there otherwise; I do admit that this cheap taco hunt is taking me to parts of LA that most people wouldn't dream of setting foot in - but I do enjoy the food and folks that frequent these places, even if I stick out from the typical customer a bit.

                                  1. re: agarose2000
                                    a_and_w Apr 17, 2008 04:00 PM

                                    LOL! No worries. I was going to recommend Tacomiendo, as well, but noticed that you've already tried and didn't like it. That surprises me -- I was blown away by my taco combination today. Fresh tortillas, meat that was juicy yet crisp, plenty of guacamole, crema, refried beans, and rice. I've enjoyed their burritos but felt they were good, not great. The tacos, however, are now my gold standard for the west side. Thanks again to PaulF and Dommy, among others, for the rec!

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