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Late Night West Side Taco Trailer - Doing Big Business

Ruben's Tacos - a little trailer being towed by what looks like a Ford Expedition SUV is routinely parked on the north side of Santa Monica Blvd. between Westgate and Armacost and seems to do big business when I bike by. I normally pass them on my outbound leg between 2:10 and 2:30 AM and I went out of my way on the return leg this morning at 3:40 AM and they were still there. Anyone tried them? I intend on stopping one of these mornings to give them a try, and if I do I'll post about it.

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  1. Your stalwart efforts are greatly appreciated by people who are quite far away, but who certainly appreciate your cycling efforts to report on the situation. Thank you so much for your great work.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      There is so little going on at that time that the little bit that does tends to catch my eye. I am not sure what time they set up, or what time they finally pull out, but for an area that isn't very populated in the middle of the night they look to be attracting a pretty good amount of business - which probably (hopefully) speaks well of their food.

    2. Just an update on Ruben's. Business has evidently been good as the little trailer is no more. They now have a brand new truck painted bright orange with a neon crawl sign across the upper back touting their tacos. Nice to see that they are doing well. Still in the same location on Santa Monica Blvd. about midway between Barrington and Bundy on the N side of the street.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Servorg

        Thanks for reviving this. I had forgotten about this. Will try to hit it soon since I have some late nights coming up.

        1. re: Jase

          I look forward to reading about your take on their tacos - if and when, Jase...

          1. re: Servorg

            Man I feel slightly guilty now like I've failed a test I should have aced. Even though I'm not sure what I did wrong. Have you been taking lessons from my mom? LOL!

            1. re: Jase

              No guilt trip intended here. I really do enjoy your reportage on local places and I am being selfish in my desire for you to try Ruben's and report back... ;-D>

              1. re: Servorg

                The Catholic first born asian guilt combined with the holiday weekend finally prompted me to visit Ruben's this past Sunday night. Since I was still wide awake and didn't have to worry about getting up to go to work the next day, I ventured out and tried them around midnight.

                You can't miss this truck if you're anywhere within a couple of blocks of them on Santa Monica. The bright flashing LED lights will draw your eye instantly. Only a few people in line and they have two flat screens for your waiting and dining entertainment.

                I ordered a carne asada and al pastor. I had some decent expectations as the pastor spit was going full tilt and the smells emanating from the truck was stirring the stomach juices despite not being hungry and having had an hot fudge sundae earlier.

                Tacos are a buck each and I got my order quickly. Sadly, they don't serve the pastor off the spit. Instead they shave off an entire layer once it's done, throw it on top of a cutting board and just chop it up indiscriminately before placing it on a holding bin. When an order is placed, they fish some out and do a final warming on the plancha. I liked the seasoning on the meat, you do get some carmelized bits and it's not greasy or stewed. It's not bad, but it's not a pastor off the spit, more like chunks of grilled pork.

                The carne asada was lightly seasoned, good beefy taste, no gristly bits, chopped up into tiny strips, also not greasy. My biggest complaint about both tacos was the small amount of meat in them. Maybe a little over half of what you'd get at any other truck. Very sparse.

                I don't know if it was their version of a westside tax since they managed to keep the price at only a buck a taco. The meat was good enough, I would have paid a quarter more to have a bit more meat. Seems like $1.25 is more the going rate anyway for a westside taco truck.

                Overall, the meat is decent. I'd put it in the upper tier of westside late night trucks. Take that qualifier however you want. If in the area and hungry for a quick snack, I'd recommend it. But speaking as someone who lives in Mar Vista, I'd be hard pressed to drive up the couple miles if I was craving a late night taco and didn't want to go very far. The quality of the meat isn't outstanding enough to make up for the small portions and the distance.

                1. re: Jase

                  Thanks for your "hound on the ground" report, Jase. I can't stop pedaling and then get back on and expect after filling my stomach to still finish my "MOTN" (Middle of the Night) bike ride, so your review will have to suffice.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    I sometimes have to go in to work early and see this truck. I have been meaning to try it sometimes but I am usually in a hurry to get to work. Maybe next time that I am out at that time of night I will tryi it. I will have to look for you servorg on my trip in to work. I have ridden my bike to work but not quite that early.

        2. re: Servorg

          Just to pinpoint the location, this truck is next to the Wertz Brothers Furniture building at 11879 Santa Monica Blvd, between Armacost Ave and S Westgate Ave.

          1. re: Peripatetic

            I did have an exact location in my OP, and they do move a little bit - depending on an open stretch where they have room to park (but always within a 1/2 block of that location). But you can always see their (now) truck parked at the curb.

            1. re: Servorg

              Reviewed by the Great Taco Hunt blog:

              El Bandini's last comment on this truck was:
              "the verde is very good...sadly this truck has been really inconsistent. i should amend my 4 score"

              1. re: calabasaschow

                The El Chato taco truck at Olympic & La Brea is a solid choice (and very busy) and delicious.

                1. re: calabasaschow

                  I think the key difference here is Ruben's is open later. I usually hit Leo's on my way back from downtown activities and after 1 or so, the spit is usually empty. I've only hit Chato once at full swing about 11 so can't speak to what their crowds are like.

                  I live on the westside and if Ruben's had a full selection after 2, it would be a great alternative. The inconsistency comment concerns me a bit, but that just means an excuse to visit them a couple of times, haha!

              2. re: Servorg

                "they do move a little bit"

                Ah, I didn't realize they're not always in the same place.

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  Always within one block of where you noted. I aim to be somewhat alert because otherwise I end up turning to climb up to Wilshire on a different street than I normally do, and that always leaves me going "Huh, what? Where am I?" for a minute. ;-D>

                  1. re: Servorg

                    When I pedaled by at 2:35 AM this morning they were in the next block east of the usual location and, more importantly, they had a big crowd gathered. Great to see. Go Ruben's!