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Jun 6, 2011 01:27 PM

Need a crash course in al pastor as it relates to the LA mexican scene

So I went to 2 different taco shacks last night and had very differing al pastor experiences

1. Taqueria La Chispita - hole in the wall in NoHo. They had their al pastor on a spit, onion on the bottom, no pineapple in sight. Huge ass burner on that gyro cooking device, which they promptly turned up and seared our al pastor right before carving. Net result = drier al pastor, with lots of crunchy bits and a more grill/BBQ type experience

2. Tacos Manzano - al pastor was prepared in a more adobo-ish kind of way, stewed over a long time with onions.

I am more familiar with 2 but prefer 1. Where can I find the best of each and are both styles "legit" al pastor?

Paging streetgourmetla or equally knowledgeable hound.

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  1. Where in NoHo are those 2 places? I'd like to try them.
    I would say both are legit. Each place has their own recipe and puts their own spin on a particular dish.

    5 Replies
      1. re: ns1

        Yeah, I kinda thought they'd be around Lankershim. Both sound great. Thanks for the links.
        I'll hit one of them tomorrow when I'm in the 'hood.

        1. re: mucho gordo

          don't get the asada at la caspita.

          1. re: ns1

            Really?? That bad?? What about the tripas, lengua and cabeza?

            1. re: mucho gordo

              Haven't gotten that far into the menu yet. Asada tasted like steamed meat thrown on the grill.

              Or more likely, meat that ended up steaming on the grill.

    1. For the 1st version, my two favorite trucks are Taco Tamix and Leo's. Check out Bandini's posts for both along with locations. I have a slight personal bias towards Tamix, at least the one on Pico/Union, not the Hoover/20th one. But both Tamix and Leo's are pretty good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jase

        I concur with Jase. I'm a fan of Leo's. Big thanks to Bandini

      2. My favorite is the Carnitas Michaocan above Chinatown on North Broadway and 19th. They do their al pastor on a rotisserie, no pineapple, and unfortunately unless you are extremely timely it will be served from a holding dish. But the real star here is the hot sauce -- a housemade salsa negro that is smoky, spicy, complex and delicious.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Is that the place right on the NW corner of the street? It's been forever since I've been there but I'll never forget they had best asada I've ever had. Never found a place to = it. Glad to hear they're still in business.

          1. re: mucho gordo

            Yes, N/W corner. Carne asada is good, I like their al pastor even better. But that hot sauce...!

        2. In the L.A. area, the best I've found so far is Taco King (not to be confused with King Taco) at their location at Gladstone and Azusa Ave. in Azusa. On weekends, they set up a cooking trailer out front and make some very good pastor on a spit. The very best I've found will take a 2-hour drive north to Los Tacos de Huicho in Bakersfield (at Union and 18th St.) who makes the most sublime al pastor I've ever had, on a spit 7-days a week, which you can pair with an unbelievably good creamy and spicy guacamole from their salsa bar. Only 99 cents at both places.

          Taco King
          245 E Gladstone St, Azusa, CA 91702

          1. Check out the evening outdoor cart set-up in front of Tacos El Compita in Mid-City. The al pastor is really terrific.

            Tacos El Compita
            4477 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019