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TACOS - LA Dish of the Month (June 2013)

TACOS - LA Dish of the Month (June 2013)

In a bit of an upset, and despite all the logomachy over crustaceans, shellfish and things cephalopods, the dish of the month for Los Angeles for June 2013 is Tacos.

Here's a link to the vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903346

The goal is to collectively try as many versions of tacos as possible during the month of May. All iterations of tacos are game, from chicken, to beef, to lengua, to machaca, to whatever (and, yes, even cephalopods). Hard shell, soft corn tortilla, puffy wrappings, fry breads, and heck even taco salads all qualify!

So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

Looking forward to seeing what people find.

Thanks again for participating.

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  1. This has already been mentioned.

    But I had four fish tacos at TPC along with the cauliflower.

    Great stuff.

    Especially with the habanero salsa.

    7 Replies
          1. re: PeterCC

            forgot this but they also made a special taco of sautéed or lightly fried squid topped with avocado, crema, sunomono, and some french curry sauce called vadouvan.

            great stuff.

            four fish tacos, cauliflower tostada, and a squid taco. not a bad lunch. not bad at all.

            1. re: kevin

              Finally made it out to this place today. No special tacos today. ::sigh:: But the basic ones were delicious. Light and crisp batter, wonderful lime dressing, distinctly flavored salas (although the chipotle was perhaps *too* strongly flavored). The only problem w/ the scallop tacos was that the scallops were a bit too small to give you enough "chew" of scallop in a normal bite.

              Also had mixto cocteles and shrimp tostada. Both were fantastic. Think I prefer the tostada b/c it had quite a bit more lime than did the cocteles. Also very tasty horchata.

              1. re: ilysla

                I love the tostada with the cashew "dressiing." I know those scallops are small but sweet.

                Specials there are rare-ish, maybe 20% of the time they have one; and, strangely, they almost NEVER tell you there is one that day unless you ask.

                1. re: Ciao Bob

                  The sauteed squid with vadouvan curry sauce and other veggies was exceptional.

                  I love the sliced cauliflower tostada with the cashew sauce.

      1. Just had the smokey grilled Marlin Tacos at Coni's Seafood in Inglewood last week. Wow are those good!

        1. OK, I'm ready to be flamed for this:

          For me tacos are mostly a vehicle for the salsa/salsa roja/salsa negro/hot sauce. And a great, quick, cheap snack for me is 4 regular crispy tacos at Del Taco (I go to the newish one in the strip mall on the S/E corner of Santa Monica Blvd. at Sepulveda in WLA). First I get two of the little plastic containers and pump in two squirts of the "el scorcho" hottest sauce, top with a third ladle of the hot salsa, top with another squirt of the hot sauce. One-half container of hot sauce for each taco. The ground beef is real, the lettuce crisp, the cheese nice but never enough.

          Damn, they just went up from 49-cents to 59-cents each.

          1. Love the probaditas at Loteria. 12 mini-tacos, each with a different filling. The perfect sampler to introduce visitors to MexiCal cuisine.

            1. I'll chime in and mention the absolutely perfect carnitas tacos I had at La Estrella on York Blvd. in Highland Park. They were so flavorful and succulent that I might not go anywhere else for carnitas ever again.

              4 Replies
                1. re: ns1

                  Yes, it's a truck, but I don't think it actually goes anywhere.

                2. re: bopdd

                  Is that location on York around 63rd, where they have the Tuesday night truck-a-thon?

                  1. re: carter

                    I'm not from the area, but 63rd doesn't sound right. This is more in like the 53rd and York area. The truck is a fixture, I believe. I don't think it goes anywhere. Seriously amazing carnitas.

                3. Hopefully the month of May is actually referring to the month of June!

                  1. Sonuva--I'm going to find some strawberry squid tacos made with pancake-waffle tortillas.

                    1. I'm not an expert on the topic, but I'm really happy I live in a place where tacos are appreciated and elevated.

                      Ricky's Fish Tacos (formerly near CHLA, now in Chinatown)
                      Rivera (Downtown LA)
                      Taco El Compa (La Puente)
                      Guisado's (Boyle Heights)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: J.L.

                        Shamelessly bumping my photo essay from my visit to Tacos El Compa from almost a year ago...


                      2. for cheap and simple I like the el Pastor tacos at El Burrito Jr. in Redondo Beach on PCH.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: wienermobile

                          nice. i'm in the area from time to time. :) i'll check it out, thanks.

                          btw, is this dish of the month supposed to be all of us going out and trying [Dish of the Month] *anew* (i.e., not going by past visits), and reporting back? that's what the topic sounded like.

                          but most posts here sound like they are just recommending from past experience. just curious.

                          1. re: chowseeker1999

                            yes, there is far too much talk and not nearly enough pictures.

                            1. re: chowseeker1999

                              Every DOM seems to go like this. This one time, I had a taco....

                              1. re: chowseeker1999

                                Give it a few days ... it's only June 2, y'know.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Well I don't think chowseeker1999 is saying there hasn't been enough reports from this month but that there's already a ton of posts in this thread the overwhelming majority of which are mentioning past experiences.

                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                    Exactly, and that's ok.

                                    Past experiences, esp. during the early period of DoTM, can be a helpful guidepost for people as to what places to sample, or even to jog the memory of places worthy of visiting (or revisiting).

                                      1. re: chowseeker1999

                                        But your point *is* well-made.

                                        The whole idea behind DoTM is to provide real-time, live reports and not historical accounts.

                                        But 'Hounds, like regular people, are creatures of memory, and habitual storytellers.

                                        C'est la vie.

                            2. Trompa tacos at Las Morelianas at Grand Central Market in DTLA are the best.

                              1. i got desperate on my search for food today - the falafel place was closed and i didn't feel like biking too far. so i popped into poquitos mas for some tacos.

                                now, i usually don't like their tacos but i decided to give the shrimp tacos a shot.

                                shrimp = 3 shrimp/taco, decent size. bland, but decently cooked
                                tortilla = semi-handmade, but they always fall apart and this time was no exception. first one broke halfway through, second one made it to the end.

                                salsas are average, chips were good today.

                                2 shrimp tacos, gratis chips/salsa, $6.81 after tax.

                                taste = C+
                                value = B

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ns1

                                  HHummm...just don't see how the value can be higher than the taste.

                                2. well this is my first time participating in this dish of the month thingy, so here goes! :)

                                  Tried Mariscos Jaliscos today (a friend of mine rec'd it repeatedly, and then J Gold mentioned it in that Top 101 List), and then this Dish of the Month thing came up. :)

                                  I actually got duped: I was driving on Olympic and forgot the exact address but saw this food truck with a HUGE line outside! I figured it must be it. I parked, walked up and noticed it said "Mariscos (something else)" but not "Jaliscos."

                                  I figured, this huge line... it must be it. I ordered 2 tacos de camaron and walked away to eat it.

                                  As I was pulling away on Olympic, I saw a *2nd* food truck just one block down. i thought... hmm...

                                  And took a chance. Sure enough *that* one was Mariscos Jaliscos! lol. :P

                                  what's shocking is that that first truck smartly parked 1 block up from Jaliscos and had the same type of menu! they even served it the same way, with avocado, a half styrofoam cup of salsa and had similar other stuff on the menu (ceviche, campanchana, etc.).

                                  Both taco trucks' Shrimp Tacos were interesting: deep fried shells with the shrimp in the middle. crispy, piping hot, crunchy.

                                  interestingly i thought the "fake" Mariscos Jaliscos truck (the first one next to a Mariscos restaurant) was better than Mariscos Jaliscos. the shrimp they had at the first truck was fresher and plumper!

                                  Mariscos Jaliscos' shrimp tasted older not as fresh. both were $1.75 each.

                                  both were ok, but nothing amazing like the first time i had Ricki's fish tacos or something like that.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chowseeker1999

                                    Thanks for the report ... both of them!

                                    Yeah, food trucks suck. :-)

                                  2. Had three types of tacos from Mariscos Chente on Centinela in Mar Vista:

                                    Smoked marlin with cheese

                                    Snapper, lightly battered and deep-fried. topped with cabbage, diced tomatoes and sauce (I think it's a combo a crema, ketchup and a little hot sauce?)

                                    Shrimp, prepared the same way as the snapper.

                                    All were really good. The fish and shrimp here always seem very fresh, and they don't skimp on the portions of seafood in the tacos. The smoked marlin is mild on the smoke, and goes perfect with the cheese - total comfort food. Also had the campechana, camarones al vapor, and the mojarra frita - all delicious as well. My one reservation about Mariscos Chente is the karaoke. They kick it up around 5PM, and it does get very loud.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      Thanks for the report.

                                      Only in LA do you have to worry about karaoke while woafing down seafood tacos!

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        I think the dining area doubles as a living room for the owners' friends and family. Ranchera and banda sets the atmosphere, but the decibels ruin it...

                                      2. re: bulavinaka

                                        Was Sergio cooking? (J/K I know he's at Conis' now)

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          I'm guessing Sergio did good schooling the current chef behind the counter because he seems to cover all the bases well (cooked dishes, ceviche/coctels, frita, pescado zerandeado), or at least well enough for me. I actually prefer MC over Coni'seafood, but that's just me.

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            Preferred specifically for the food, or factoring in convenience too?

                                            1. re: PeterCC

                                              While it is a lot closer than Coni', we prefer the food too. Maybe our tastebuds have gotten used to MC.

                                        2. re: bulavinaka

                                          I really have trouble wrapping my brain around the concept of marlin & cheese. Trouble fathoming seafood with any cheese. Now granted I have no love affair with cheso, but still....

                                            1. re: carter

                                              I really like the Shrimp Parmigiana (breaded topped with marinara sauce, melted mozzarella with pasta marinara) at Fabrocini's.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                Really?! Can't imagine liking that whatsoever!

                                                1. re: carter

                                                  Probably not a good dish if you don't eat cheese...but the flavor profile really works well for me (and a lot of other folks as well).

                                                  1. re: carter

                                                    People seem to like Lobster Thermidor topped with cheese before it goes under the broiler.

                                            2. I tried some "creative fusion" tacos in Hermosa Beach over the weekend. Basically it was at a place called "Project Taco" on the Hermosa Pier.

                                              1 Chicken Avocado Taco
                                              1 "Blueberry BBQ" pork taco with a blueberry sriacha sauce.

                                              neither one of them worked at all. just overpowering flavors, couldn't taste anything except sauce. the guys seemed nice though, but not something I'd really want to have again...it was situated in between bars on the pier so their target demo might be different..but yeah, $1 street tacos from most other taco truck would be way better in every way possible.

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: Xericx

                                                  @ Xericx, yikes! :O

                                                  yah blueberry pork tacos sound a bit crazy; i think it might work if done right, but from your report it sounds kinda bad. lol

                                                2. Korean BBQ tacos
                                                  Both beef & pork
                                                  I added the gochujang

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                    Looks spicy! Thanks for the photo and report!

                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives


                                                      Is this your first "live" report for a DoTM thread, my dear Martini quaffing 'Hound?

                                                      This is sort of like popping your olive.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I couldn't hold back any longer.... i feel so liberated now! This calls for a celebration pitcher! No more holding back, breaking out the best booze, a fresh jar of olives, and my new passion ko-Ume zuke pickled plums..... I'll try to keep it going all month long.

                                                    2. Two taco adventures this week, one at Bar Ama and the other at Los Anaya on Adams.

                                                      I'm a big Ceteno fan and I've had the puffy tacos at Bar Ama once before. Felt like indulging again, come to find they were no longer on the menu; waitress said they are a bit labor intensive and tend to back up the kitchen so they've been removed, but people "in the know" can still order them. We split one of each filling on offer that day: potato, shredded beef (I think, my memory is lapsing on this one), and shrimp. I love the tortilla, but I'm partial to flour most of the time.

                                                      I know you're not supposed to take the fish tacos from Anaya to go, but I live just 9 blocks away so i figured I'd risk it. Boo, not the best idea. I think the batter loses its crisp within just a few minutes, so it was already a little soggy once I bit in. Also, I think Ricky's has forever ruined other fish tacos for me. That crispy, thick batter is crazy good.

                                                      1. I had two tacos for 99 cents today at Jack in the Box. They are getting smaller but still delicious.

                                                        1. Yes, I’m going to be one of those…

                                                          I didn’t vote for this DOM. I’ve never made secret that when I go out to Mexican food, I’ll order ANYTHING but the tacos. And that is for one reason. The Tortillas in the U.S. are atrocious. This isn’t some snobbish stance, the masa up here is ALL WRONG. Even at places who make them ‘fresh’. It’s too wet and when initially cooked the tortillas steam instead of getting toasted… Hence they have NO FLAVOR. I LOVE tacos… in Mexico… so it’s been such a frustration...

                                                          BUT, I saw an opportunity with this DOM. There are some excellent taqueros out there and so since they are relatively cheap… I decided to have tacos for lunch when I can. So here’s my run down for week one:

                                                          1) Tacomiendo (Mar Vista): I haven't been at either the Mar Vista or West L.A. location in a while because I always end up snickering at the Silicon Beach Dude who orders in front of me. You see, they try so hard to both give authentic and approachable vibe. So these dudes seem to have extra swagger when they order (and it happened this time TOO!) “Chicken Soft Tacos”. The chicken here is actually terrible. Bland. But I do always order what they make to appeal to the scowling vegetarian dates these dudes tend to bring in. The Veggie tacos. It’s quite the carby mess. Black Beans, a little bit of squash, all mixed up with Mexican rice. And unlike their other tacos, it comes with a dollop of their pretty decent guacamole, so you do come out of it felling a little like a princess…


                                                          Another point of pride for Tacomiendo is that they make their own tortillas. They are quite large, but they are flabby and flavorless, which is why the flavor bomb that is the Veggie taco actually works quite well with it. But if you are a sworn meaterian, their best meat is the Adobada, marinaded pork which is quite tasty and juicy (Unlike their atrocious asada).


                                                          2) Taqueria Sanchez on Centinela: I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a taco here. At Inglewood its always the Shrimp Burrito (although the last one I had, was terrible because they switched to an industrial Mexican rice), at Casa, the Asada (one of the best in town) and on Centinela, their enchiladas (seriously… order them!). But my co-workers who often come with, ALWAYS order the chicken crunchy tacos. I admit, they always looked good and now was my chance to try. The shell was quite thin and crisp, not tough and greasy like so many other taqueria tacos dorados. The chicken unlike at Tacomiendo actually has great seasoning. With a sprinkle of queso fresco, they cemented their crispy taco cred.


                                                          3) Blue Salt Fish Grill: Okay… it might have been its proximity of Nordstrom OR my favorite yarn shop that first had me run into Blue Salt Fish Grill. But what really made an impression that first visit was that upon ordering, I was greeted with a plate of chips and complimentary Ceviche. YES. Initially I was TOTALLY skeeved out... but every time I've been... it has been pretty good!


                                                          Most of the time, I order a salad with the Giant Shrimp (It's my way to get my Fisherman's outlet fix in the south bay) but for DOM, I decided to try their Mahi Grilled Fish Tacos. You have a choice of corn tortillas and flour. As per my intro, I went with flour. However, they over grilled them. The fish was pretty tasty, especially with their Cajun seasoning and Remolade crema. But what really made up for the tortilla fail is their salsa bar, which has everything from Curry Tzatziki to Habanero pickled onions.


                                                          4) Saby’s on Venice: I’m a firm believer in the curative power of vampiros (especially those containing celery) so Saby’s Juice stand on Venice Blvd. has always been in world. Lately they have expanded to quite the ambitious Oaxacan menu and have been advertising their specials of Crispy Shrimp Tacos on Fridays. It turns out that the Crispy Shrimp Tacos are available everyday. And the shrimp isn’t fried, but grilled crisp. This taco comes with handmade tortillas, which were slightly better than the one at Tacomiendo in that is was puffy and tender. But what it lacked in flavor, was made up by a smattering of yellow cheese melted on it before the addition of grilled yet tender shrimp. This combo worked very well, which was good because Sabys had the WORST table salsa I’ve had in recent memory. If Shrimp aren’t your thing, it’s never a bad idea or order Chorizo tacos at Oaxacan restaurants. Saby’s was quite flavorful so it didn’t need any of that dreadful salsa. But since it was a ‘standard’ taco, it came on store bought tortillas…


                                                          5) Mexicali Taco Co: This week I close with my brothers in U.S. tortilla frustration. Mexicali Taco Co. goes the extra mile and over border and to get their flour tortillas where they are done right, in Mexicali. BUT, they DO sell out. As was the case of my recent visit when I saw on the sign… No Flour Tortillas… WHuT?!?!

                                                          I almost walked out… but I wanted to try their newish Shrimp tacos. For their corn tortillas, they use La California Tortillas made in Glassel Park, which are pretty good (they actually taste like corn) and of course fresh. I’m SO glad I stayed. The shrimp tacos had three large tender shrimp smothered in garlic sauce and resting on just a touch a melted jack cheese. These BLOW any shrimp taco put out by those punta guys and actually are a decent deal for $3.00 each. Between these and the Al Pastor Nachos… even without the famous flour tortillas, Mexicali is still one of the best taquerias in the city.



                                                          We’ll see what Week 2 brings…


                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: Dommy

                                                            Powerful outstanding report! Thank you!

                                                            1. re: Dommy

                                                              Wonder mega-review, Dommy! Wondering if you've had Tacos Punta Cabras. I really like their tortillas. Theirs and Ricky's are the best tortillas that I've had, but my experience is very limited.

                                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                                I have, twice. Although both were within weeks of their opening and so they might have worked out the kinks... We still got three more weeks of Taco DOM left... so I just might make a check up visit now that they have also expanded their menu...



                                                              2. re: Dommy

                                                                Great report Dommy!

                                                                The sacrifices you make for DotM will not go unnoticed.

                                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                                  el compadre, on sunland in sun valley, has excellent corn tortillas.
                                                                  i kind of like the food there.

                                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                                    SInce you don't like the tortillas in LA, is it preferable (or equal) to simply go to a place which buys their tortillas packages instead?

                                                                    I'm not suggesting this solves your problem, but it looks like you're saying that if I am looking to eat tacos then I should not concern myself much with the tortilla?

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      Not really. My point is that the tortillas made here are lacking the flavor and texture of the tortillas in Mexico. There is a huge different in how they manufacturered (if you go to a place that uses packaged) and the masa used to make them (If they are made in the restaurant). It's complex. To learn the process of how they make tortillas in Mexico, read my post here:


                                                                      Now, that is also not to say that the torilla should not matter. It does and in each one of my run down I mention the tortilla and how it plays with the filling. You can have the most wonderfully filling, but if a place under or over cooks the tortilla (As the case of Blue Salt), it ruins the whole experience. The idea of the dish of the month is to get a run down of the best of anything that THIS city has to offer. I could very well say... "There are no tacos worth eating in this city!" but actually this is not true... Which is why I decided to take part in this...


                                                                  2. Taco salad, drive-thru order at The Original Tops in East Pasadena on Colorado. Large, crispy flour tortilla shell. Layer of refried beans that still have texture and structural integrity. Next come several handfuls of mixed salad greens, topped with shredded cheese, pico de gallo, half of a sliced avocado, and carne asasa or grilled chicken. Your choice of dressing.

                                                                    Crisp and cold lettuce, flavorful carne asada, and (though I am sure any credibility I might have will disappear with this admission) thousand island dressing. Incredible - flavors, colors, textures - and very filling.

                                                                    (Think that it was a post from WildSwede or JeetJet that turned me on to Tops half a decade ago - never thanked them, so doing so now!)

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                      I'm trying to wrap my mind around Thousand Island dressing and taco salad.

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        That is the taco salad of my childhood. It had to have come from the Good Housekeeping cookbook. My mother made it with Iceberg lettuce, grated cheddar, kidney beans, corn flavored Doritos and yes, thousand island dressing. Gotta love growing up in the 70's.

                                                                        Then there was the "fish taco" I had in Laguna Beach (forget the name of the place) in the 90's. I asked if they were authentic having grown up on fish tacos from stands in San Felipe. I got a Van de Kamps fish fillet with iceberg lettuce, a slice of american cheese, and again, thousand island dressing.

                                                                        Must be a regional thing.

                                                                        1. re: OCSteve

                                                                          Evidently the recipe for the sauce is variable if you believe/read this CH thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/360235

                                                                          Given all that I'm sure Thousand Island is just fine if you like the taste combo...

                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                            These days, I'll save the thousand island for my burger, thank you very much.

                                                                            1. re: OCSteve

                                                                              At least the "food police" won't pull you over and issue you a citation if you want to "love the spread" in an off label application...

                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          I was raised by a very Midwestern mother. When she made tacos, they were fried flour tortillas, filled with ground beef that had been seasoned with garlic powder. Then ketchup (have you fainted yet?) and a whole leaf of iceburg. I will spare you some of her other concoctions.

                                                                          That being said, I do like thousand on my taco salads - likely a nostalgia thing.

                                                                          Oh, forgot to say that the salad greens at Tops are actually one of those spring salad mixes - no iceburg.

                                                                          1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                            Oh, forgot to say that the salad greens at Tops are actually one of those spring salad mixes - no iceburg.

                                                                            You mean with like arugula and stuff?

                                                                        3. re: ElsieDee

                                                                          I still love that salad. I always get the cheese on the side with their delicious ranch. Have not had one in a while - thanks for the reminder, Elsie! ;-)

                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                            Hmmm ... haven't tried their ranch. Must rectify that oversight.

                                                                            1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                              LOL. It is one of the better ones out there. I am very picky about ranch. Hope you like it!

                                                                        4. The carnitas tacos with homemade corn tortillas at Frida are very good.

                                                                          1. Was also going to sit this one out since it's a bit close to burrito but Dommy's post was too inspirational.

                                                                            Back to Super Anojitos in Costa Mesa: carne asada, carnitas, lengua, chile verde. Tasty. Especially the lengua and asada.

                                                                            1. Tacos I've had so far this month (sorry, no pics):

                                                                              La Estrella (Fair Oaks location): Al Pastor tacos with lots of their delicious red salsa - delicious. Definitely one of my favorites.

                                                                              Taco Treat: Hard shell tacos. Very good with their delicious not-so-hot sauce.

                                                                              Taco Lita: Hard shell tacos. Good but not as good as the Taco Treat version. Good taco sauce.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                I just hit up Taco Lita too. It's like the "gourmet" version of Taco Bell, which is to say still not very gourmet at all.

                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                  Yuppers, but it hits the spot and there is no Taco Bell in the area! ;-)

                                                                              2. not sure if this is the best place for this but...

                                                                                Anyone got a suggestion for tacos AND beer? Preferably in the Burbank/NoHo/Hollywood area.

                                                                                The best places I can think of are salsa and beer/calle tacos...surely my hounds know of others?

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                  The two that come to mind are El Parian and El 7 Mares.

                                                                                  Most folks, incl. J. Gold, go to El Parian for birria, but they do a pretty kick ass carne asada taco.

                                                                                  At El 7 Mares life is good with a fish taco in one hand and a cold cerveza in the other.

                                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                                    I swear I live inside S & B. Been there 2-3 times a week for the past month LOL. The smokiness of their meat is addictive.

                                                                                    1. re: gr8pimpin

                                                                                      what do you usually get there?

                                                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                                                        My girlfriend and boy order something and I clean their plates!! NOHO location makes great Margaritas and has a full bar.

                                                                                        I like the adovada. Tacos al carbon are awesome and have a strong taste of the grill. I like the asada. I have had the steak and shrimp too. Inexpensive and huge portions.

                                                                                      2. re: gr8pimpin

                                                                                        I don't know what they do to their chicken, but the grill taste is so freakin' good! The Van Nuys location is closer to me, but it is always so crowded. Even at off hours, there is at least a 20-30 minute wait. Peak hours? Bring a snack.

                                                                                        I remember when I first started eating there and you could just walk right in and be seated. I am happy they are successful, but sad because I don't go as often as I used to.

                                                                                        To stay on topic, I love their shrimp tacos. Grilled shrimp, salsa verde and cilantro and onion.

                                                                                    2. Last week we stopped by Komodo, on Pico, this is one of our near weekly haunts since we live so close and it's so consistently good.

                                                                                      I had a "deadly combo" with two tacos and an appetizer (you can upgrade from the fries for a dollar), the appetizer was their tuna tartar with avocado and crispy wonton, I'd never tried it and had been wanting to.

                                                                                      I mention it because it's served like two crispy tacos, the wonton is shaped like a taco shell and the tunatartar is packed inside with avacado on top holding it in. This was outstanding, and imo one of the best items on their menu. Since it's taco esque I feel like it qualifies for this thread as well.

                                                                                      I also had the Roma taco (which is hands down my favorite there, so simple yet so perfect) and the MP3 (my other favorite).

                                                                                      The Roma is simple, grilled veggies and italian sausage. It's a drippy, flavor explosion mess that I love. This particular time was slightly different than the other ten+ times I've ordered it, the sausage was formed as a patty slightly less than the diameter of the corn tortilla. Typically these patties are found (a pair of them) in the Roma burrito, so I think this was an odd anomoly, as the sausage is usually sized a little more proportionally to the taco tortilla, this sausage was so big it was pretty much impossible to fold the tortilla into taco shape.

                                                                                      The MP3 is fantastic, it's sirloin taco meat with a garlic aioli sauce, topping that is a sunny side up quail egg and two of their house made tater tots. The tots provide crunch and the egg yolk provides all it's runny goodness in combination with the beef and garlic, it's another flavor explosion albeit more complex than the Roma.

                                                                                      You can have any of their tacos made as a burrito (which seems to be as much food as about five of the tacos!) The Roma is a very good burrito, the MP3 is better as a taco, but their Early Bird makes for an outstanding burrito (a better burrito than a taco, iirc).

                                                                                      Running down their other tacos, my favorites are:

                                                                                      1. Roma
                                                                                      2. MP3
                                                                                      3. Java
                                                                                      4. Early Bird
                                                                                      5. Burgeritto
                                                                                      6. Loko Modo
                                                                                      7. Komodo 2.0
                                                                                      8. Fish n Grapes
                                                                                      9. Asian Marinated Chicken
                                                                                      10. Signature
                                                                                      11. Blazin Shrimp

                                                                                      I've never tried the 'soi' taco.

                                                                                      My wife's favorite's are the Signature, Asian Marinated Chicken, Komodo 2.0 and Java. She almost always gets a "Killer Combo" with those four tacos, though sometimes she mixes in the others. She likes the more traditional tacos, I like the more inventive tacos. All their tacos are great, I only put the blazin shrimp last because the two times I've tried it, the taco was so spicy I had a hard time finishing it.


                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jadekarrde

                                                                                        Thanks so much for the rundown!! I had a REALLY bad taco from their truck... but a friend whose tastes I really trust really likes their storefront. He had this picture of their fish which looked divine! Will have to try that Roma!


                                                                                        1. re: Dommy

                                                                                          Yeah I had some terrible tacos from the truck.

                                                                                        2. re: jadekarrde

                                                                                          Thanks! I have never had theirs - either from the truck or storefront. Sounds very inventive. Will definitely need to try. Thanks again!

                                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                            El Chato - 4 Al Pastor, 4 Carne Asada y 2 Tripas...sorry no pictures but the tacos were much better than Leo's from Saturday night. They are smaller than most trucks but the flavor is there. So happy that an amazing truck with sazon is so close. Run dont walk for the best Al Pastor in the city. Dont really understand the lines and hype of Leo's. Just my 2 cents.

                                                                                            1. re: Food_destroyed_my_life

                                                                                              I was at El Chato for a taco run and went to Leo's later that same night

                                                                                              The reason Leo's got the nod from me was because my Al Pastor experience @ El Chato went like this

                                                                                              - Stand in line and look at beautiful al pastor on trompo
                                                                                              - Watch dude cut off pieces of al pastor onto griddle
                                                                                              - Watch dude move those pieces into plastic container that was then moved below eye-level, presumably to some sort of heat container
                                                                                              - Watch dude pull al pastor from said plastic container(s) and into tacos. Might have been from plastic container -> metal container -> taco, but you get the point

                                                                                              Contrast to my Leo's experience
                                                                                              - Stand in line, watch dude with machete cut up meat from trompo
                                                                                              - Get ticket from cashier, give ticket to dude with machete
                                                                                              - Watch dude cut meat/pineapple from trompo directly to tortilla

                                                                                              obviously, YMMV.

                                                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                                                I agree with you on that one ns1. I was not watching closely what was happening at El Chato, but that sounds about right. I saw containers at El Chato and never saw El Chato or his wife cut off the trompo versus the trompo at Leo's that is just like it is in TJ or the DF. I was super excited when I had the chance to try Leo's but it fell flat. The meat had zero char and the pina was the same, no noticeable char at all. I have had tacos in TJ and the DF, and for my two cents or $1, El Chato had more flavor than Leo's. I will give it one more chance, but when I bit into the Al Pastor at El Chato, it tasted like achiote, citrus, pork and then I got hit with the chile and radishes. My experience at Leo's might have been an off hour, we went after the Bjork concert on Saturday around 11:30PM, maybe its better closer to 2am. I will give it another shot since it has been a darling here for so long.

                                                                                                1. re: Food_destroyed_my_life

                                                                                                  yeah I would give it another shot, no char on al pastor is just wrong. To be fair, I still owe El Chato another shot.

                                                                                          2. re: jadekarrde

                                                                                            I've had decent tacos from their truck, when they first came on scene.

                                                                                          3. Went to Tacos Punta Cabras with chrishei for the DotM (was there yesterday, but had tostadas, so didn't count). They had just run out of their previous special (Pismo clams from Ensenada), so I ordered shrimp tacos.

                                                                                            I'm no taco or tortilla expert, but every time I go in, I like their tortillas a little more. I think they're experimenting with the the blend in the dough which is not 100% masa de maiz. There's definitely some wheat flour in it. It grills up nicely and has a good chew to it. The batter was light and crisp as always.

                                                                                            Chef Daniel felt bad we just missed the special, so he whipped up another special for us: monkfish tacos, with asparagus, crema, another ingredient or two that I unfortunately missed, shallots, and port wine gelee. It was very good, in an obviously non-traditional way.

                                                                                            The monkfish was very meaty, and the shallots provided a great deal of sweetness. Daniel said that he had to put a little more French influence into this special because monkfish doesn't fit the traditional Ensenada-style fish tacos as well as other fish.

                                                                                            1. Tacos de carnitas on still-warm, freshly made corn tortillas at La Azteca

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                I think we got a winner... ;)

                                                                                              2. I decided to revisit a childhood favorite that I hadn't been to in years, The Talpa (Pico just west of Barrington), for the ground beef tacos.

                                                                                                It was as wonderful as I remember - old family recipe (the restaurant is owned by sisters), the tacos my family from the Arizona/Mexico border used to make - ground beef crunchy tacos. The ground beef is perfectly flavored, lots of onions, peppery, delicious. It's simple, served with just lettuce, tomato and cheese on a homemade fried tortilla.

                                                                                                It's messy, very greasy (yet still very crunchy!), and oh so good. Can't wait to go back, don't know how it dropped off my radar, was as good as I remember (and way better than Tito's ground beef taco).

                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: yogachik

                                                                                                  It's somewhat unusual, at least to me, that The Talpa, http://thetalpa.com/ and their next door neighbor, Don Antonio http://donantoniosla.com/ both do "taco dorados" with ground beef.

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    Anything seafood, fish, or veggie friendly at both of these joints.

                                                                                                    The gf is on the tip these days.

                                                                                                  2. re: yogachik

                                                                                                    Well titis doesn't do ground beef. It's essentially this shredded beef crap.

                                                                                                    But I'm definitely going to hit up La Talpas for the ground beef tacos.

                                                                                                    That sounds great.

                                                                                                    Yoga chick. You never cease to astound me with your in my opinion under the radar recs.

                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                      I think I'll start calling Tito's "Titis" now... :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                                        Sorry. Stupid fuckin cell phone.

                                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                                          Haha, no worries, I think it's a better name for it.

                                                                                                      2. re: kevin

                                                                                                        Thanks Kevin :) I do tend to stick to my own neighborhood, though. I swear Titos is ground beef? Other taco faves include Lares and Gilberts (both for your basic, hard shell, chicken tacos) - hardly under the radar, and not necessarily chow-worthy, but hit the spot.

                                                                                                        1. re: yogachik

                                                                                                          Hmm, it's been a while since I've been to Titis (heh) but I think kevin's right. At least in the tamales and in the burritos it is shredded beef, and I'm pretty sure the tacos too.

                                                                                                          1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                                            I just remember it being this shredded beef type substance rather than ground beef.

                                                                                                            I'm pretty sure of that.

                                                                                                            But please other hounds chime in please.

                                                                                                            Btw. If it was ground beef I'd be at Titis way way way more often. I'm just not a fan of the shredded beef.

                                                                                                          2. re: yogachik

                                                                                                            And have you had the veal meatballs at Vitos this month already ?

                                                                                                            It's still on my chow dar.

                                                                                                            1. re: yogachik

                                                                                                              Um no, unless they've changed in the past two or three years, it's shredded beef and it's gross.

                                                                                                        2. 2 tacos mixto - Las Morelianas - GCM. Porcine goodness. They hook you with a free sample taco like a pusher!

                                                                                                          1. Two places to report: Guisados and Mariscos Jaliscos

                                                                                                            Stopped by Guisados after attending the newly reopened and gorgeous Echo Park Lake. Ended up getting the Cochinita Pibil (ordered at a 5 of 10 spice level) and the Mole Poblano chicken tacos, and my friend got the camarones taco. Overall I wasn't blown away by the made to order tortillas, but I can understand why they work well given that most of their proteins are usually stewed and shredded, so it needs to be hefty in order to hold up with all the sauce. In my opinion they're very inoffensive perhaps in order to let whats on top shine.

                                                                                                            Mole Poblano blew me away at the first bite, the mole is complex and transforms the more you eat, as you notice more and more flavors. After bite 3-4 it became somewhat one-noted.

                                                                                                            I'm still recovering from the Cochinita Pibil. I was unaware you could choose the spice level from 1-10. I ended up going with a 5 and each bite was terrifyingly spicy, and I appreciate a good amount of spice. Parts of my lips were swollen for a good hour, and even after washing my hands I mistakenly touched my upper eyelid which started to burn, and then it somehow managed to enter into my eyeball and I had to pull over as my eyes teared up for a good few minutes. Stomach burn lasted a good 4-5 hours. Delicious though, and it is served on top of black beans that somewhat tame the heat.

                                                                                                            Took a bite of the shrimp, it was tasty, well cooked, however not something I would order again.

                                                                                                            Their tacos are visually gorgeous. Ordered a side of Melon (Cantalope) agua fresca, I highly recommend it, tasted of fresh ripe cantalope, lots of flavor, perfect amount of sweetness.

                                                                                                            I'd say 3 tacos is a filling meal, get the sampler if you want to try a variety. Would definitely come again, but overall not my favorite taco place.

                                                                                                            Mariscos Jaliscos is my first venture in whole fried shrimp taco territory, and I'm glad I stopped by this place first. Was greeted by the owner when we were in line asking us if we needed any help or assistance. Ended up with two shrimp tacos, mixta ceviche tostada and aguachiles tostada (spicy garlic shrimp).

                                                                                                            The filling in the shrimp taco is flavorful and delicious, and the textural contrasts between the crunchy (but not hard) taco shells with the filling combined with the salsa and avocados makes it remarkably balanced. Add a little Tapatio and it's damn perfect.

                                                                                                            The mixed ceviche is perfectly seasoned, the octopus was tender and cut into appropriate sizes. I had trouble eating it as it was too large to pick up the entire tostada, but too hard where you couldn't use utensils. Someone needs to school me on how to eat tostadas.

                                                                                                            The aguachiles was yet another venture into spicy-town. These were MUCH spicier than the cochinita pibil taco from Guisados. Two bites in and I had trouble breathing. Again I like to stress I like spicy food, and while I'm not a champion spice eating machine I do appreciate spiciness. No tapatio was added, I had it as is and even the avocados could not tame this thing. Three bites in I started getting runner's high as my body started feeling numb from what I presume to be endorphins being released due to the amount of heat this thing packed. I couldn't speak for the next 30 minutes, could only whisper.

                                                                                                            Regardless had a great experience at this taco truck. Great service, they offer a big bottle of Tapatio and additional tostados for free in case you needed more to mop up any remaining shrimp or salsas that didn't make it into your mouth. Loved the shrimp tacos here.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Xan7hos

                                                                                                              " Would definitely come again, but overall not my favorite taco place."

                                                                                                              that was my impression of guisados. I love the place, the tortillas, and the horchata. The tacos I had were "good", but clearly outmatched by others in town.

                                                                                                            2. Just back from Ricky's Tacos. Had the fish tacos. Forgot how good they were. Depends a little on the sauce you choose.

                                                                                                              1. Well… Even I had my doubts… but I made it through a Taco DotM lunch stretch for another week! Maybe its because I tend to a hopefully soul. Or maybe its because Tacos tend to make for a pretty cheap lunch… but here’s the one’s I got to this week…

                                                                                                                Frida Taqueria at Westside Pavillion: My inherent weakness for Nordstrom double points once again brought my attention to another surprising taco spot. Frida Taqueria in itself is not surprising. The original Frida in Beverly Hills makes some really excellent tacos, especially of carnitas. But there at the Mall Food court it was, selling Cochinita Pibil. Although Cochinita is hardly as rare as it once were in Los Angeles, the places to get on the westside are still a bit far and inbetween. So ordered one taco of Carnitas and one of Cochinita. The Carnitas was completely forgettable. Pretty flavorless, not even close to the one at the restaurant. The Cochinita was surprisingly good. Not as good the one at Pink Taco (Which is actually the best one I’ve had on this side of town) but still quite complex. But what really won me over is that they added a good amount of the Cochinita juice to the taco. An essential flavor enhancer to any ‘meh’ tortilla (And believe me, they have MEH tortillas). I would TOTALLY order the Cochnita again… but probably in Torta form, which is how it is often consumed in Yucantan…


                                                                                                                Mondo Tacos: Yes, I might be a tortilla snob… but generally I’m pretty open to fusion tacos and have enjoyed several of them. However, not everything belongs in a taco (Sushi Tacos… NO!). So I was intrigued by the generally well-received Mondo Tacos in Mid-City, which has fusion tacos from around the world. I went ahead and ordered a meat, veggie and seafood taco. Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce (Good, but the peanut sauce was a bit meh), Tempura Shrimp with Avocado and Spicy Mayo (Really good, but the Tempura Batter was a bit heavier than I’d like), and Mushroom. Crispy Onion with Goat Cheese (Actually the best of the bunch… My Spanish grandfather has passed down his love for burnt onion). But what really stood out here was the tortilla. It had a pretty good corn taste, but it had this very fluffy texture with crisp edges. It was almost like a giant blini. So it worked really well with the goat cheese and rich flavors of the crisp garlic and mushrooms. Can’t wait to try more of the menu…



                                                                                                                Rubio’s Fish Tacos: Don’t make that face… I went to school in San Diego State. I remember Rubios when it used to be GOOD. OMG. Their Super Nachos got me through many a killer midterm and foolish heartbreak… So since they actually are the closest taqueria at work… I take a peek every now and then. Most of it has indeed turned into dreck. But recently they tried to refresh the menu and started offering grilled tilapia tacos featuring sustainably grown Regal Springs Tilapia. I liked that they were at least making an effort, so I tried it and now it’s a regular on my must have a quick, yet delicious, yet someone healthy lunch… I get it with their blackened spice which helps a lot with an otherwise pretty bland fish. But what I really like about it is that despite it being so thin, they don’t grill it to death like most fast food grilled fish (Wahoo’s I’m looking at YOU!). So the fish is pretty tender and fresh tasting while the slaw and fresh salsa that comes standard with the taco doesn’t try to mask the fish…. But really enhances it...


                                                                                                                White Rabbit Truck: Remember what I said about not everything belongs in a taco? Well let me go a little further, a taco is not just filling and a tortilla. There needs to be some element that helps make it come together. Usually its salsa, but it can be something like the pineapple in El Pastor or the sesame seeds in a Kogi Taco. I love Filipino food and in theory… it should make GREAT tacos. And while the White Rabbit actually makes GOOD Filipino food, their tacos just didn’t hit any good points. I ordered the chicken adobo, which actually competed instead of going with the slaw they put on top. The pork tocino which was the best of the three because it was so good, but wasn’t helped one bit by that same meh slaw and industrial tortilla. And the sisig, which they didn’t even bother to put anything on. I LOVED their sisig when it came on a rice bowl (with the addition of two wonderfully fried eggs on top), but in a tortilla, none of its character actually came through because it was so rich, it overwhelmed the horrible tortilla. I just took two bites and left the rest.


                                                                                                                So week 2 definitely had some hits and some misses… but it ended on a HUGE high note, because Mom got into the DotM act and made her famous Cochinita, which I promptly made into two tacos to show the world… how its done…



                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                  Great review as always Dommy!

                                                                                                                  For you, tacos are obviously a family affair.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                    When I told my parents I was doing this... they had a good laugh but then regailed me stories of their favorite tacos growing up. Mexico isn't a communist country in the least... but it has certain socialist leanings and tacos are really the food of everyone...


                                                                                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                      The US used to lean toward mashed potatoes...the "opium of the Proletariat" perhaps? (g) Now, not so much anymore. See what immigration brings? A whole new chow dogma (chogma?)!

                                                                                                                2. Tacos Puntas Cabras:
                                                                                                                  One Fish
                                                                                                                  One Shrimp
                                                                                                                  One sweet lunch.

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                                    A few weeks back for me:

                                                                                                                    The special squid taco.

                                                                                                                    Three Fish tacos. (It may have been four fish tacos).

                                                                                                                    One Cauliflower tostada.

                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                      Tacos Punta Cabras 3x this month:

                                                                                                                      - fish taco x3
                                                                                                                      - scallop taco x3
                                                                                                                      - shrimp taco x3
                                                                                                                      - mixto tostada
                                                                                                                      - special coctele: lobster
                                                                                                                      - special taco: monkfish
                                                                                                                      - special coctele: abalone + uni

                                                                                                                      1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                        Hit TPC 2x this month. So far. Shrimp, scallop and fish tacos - all very, very good. Not intending to try the tofu tacos, but do want to try the cocteles. In reply to a comment above about locally made tortillas, I concur with the post that TPC's tortillas are very good - taste like fresh corn meal, in a good way, without being pasty or gummy. And they sell them to go, by the 6-pack I think. Also, they encourage you to bring your own beer, as they don't have a license. And they now take plastic - formerly it was cash only. I really love this place.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Wayno

                                                                                                                          Can somebody please elaborate on where the F this place is?? I have read its at 23rd & Santa Monica (I believe) but when I went by there saw NO TACO PLACE. Unless they have a secret passage way, I obviously must have the address wrong. Is right by St. John's correct?? In the same block as Bistro Santa Monica? Somebody literally needs to hold my hand and walk me through the directions, including where to park.......

                                                                                                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                            It's on the north side of Santa Monica, between Cloverfield and 23rd. No signage (besides a low-hanging banner I think), and it's right next door to that Pot & Pan place. There's metered street parking on 23rd north of SM, or do what I do and park on Chelsea (no meters, and more parking now that school is out) and walk an extra half block.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                                There's actually a wooden sandwich board kind of sign on the sidewalk in front of it. I think the exact address is 2311. No parking out front, so you have to park farther east on SM or on a side street. So worth the effort!

                                                                                                                  2. Fish tacos at La Bufadora in Irwindale on Arrow Hwy. Delicious, breaded fish tacos with a nice salsa bar (be sure to get some of the chiles that have been sprinkled with lemon, pepper and salt). Spicy!

                                                                                                                    Also, not a "taco" per se, but I made mine into tacos, so I am going to mention it. Los Compadres in Norwalk - surprisingly good food. Great homemade corn tortillas, which is what came with our order of Queso Fundito com Chorizo. OMG! This was so delicious! I snagged enough to make 3 small tacos (with their salsa which tastes surprisingly similar to Tito's Taco's - which I like). I will probably do a separate posting for the other items we ate, but it was really, really good. Place reminded me of an El Torito in looks, but the food quickly made me realize this it is definitely not. Next time, I will be happy with the Queso Fundito and an order of their consome de camaron which seems to come with most of the seafood dishes.


                                                                                                                    1. Today's lunch: Wednesday special 99 cent fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada on Whittier. Such a deal!

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                        La Bufadora also has 99 cent fish taco specials - and I *believe* theirs is on Weds as well.

                                                                                                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                          WildSwede, do you know what kind of fish LaBufadora uses?
                                                                                                                          Thanks for the 411. I've never heard of this place mentioned whenever fish tacos are discussed except for now. What a deal!

                                                                                                                          1. re: selfportrait93

                                                                                                                            Hi Self. Unfortunately, I don't, sorry. It is a mild white fish. Maybe cod?

                                                                                                                      2. Had the $6.99 sampler tacos at Guisados in East L A. It consists of a variety of their 6 most popular tacos using mini tortillas. The mini tacos can be consumed in two bites. If you want to experience different taco flavors, this is the place to go to. It is just so difficult to tell which is which from their menu besides being able to tell the difference between chicken, beef and chicharon.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: selfportrait93

                                                                                                                          I have to get over there. It has been on my list for a while. I also have to get to La Casita Mexicana. The ceviche they served at the LA Weekly Food Event blew my socks off! Also, I ran into the brothers in the Petersen Automotive Museum gift shop and they were so gracious to me when I went up and told them how much I enjoyed their offerings.

                                                                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                            When you do get to Guisados and order the sampler, make sure you ask which is which when they bring them to the table. That way, you can order the specific taco you like in its regular size.

                                                                                                                            1. re: selfportrait93

                                                                                                                              Thank you! I will definitely keep that in mind! ;-)

                                                                                                                            2. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                              and get the horchata, my god that horchata.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                Horchata at La Casita Mexicana or Guisados?

                                                                                                                          2. Ate at Taqueria Two Guys in Santa Ana today. One bistec taco, one pollo with queso and one al pastor shaved off the vertical spit (topped with pineapple, cilantro and onions).

                                                                                                                            -Bistec was average.
                                                                                                                            -Chicken with queso was juicy but a bit bland.
                                                                                                                            -The al pastor was very flavorful and delicious.

                                                                                                                            Will go back for the al pastor again. At $1.29, the al pastor taco offer a decent value.


                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Searching4Dunny

                                                                                                                              I thought the pastor was too sweet with that big chunk of pineapple inside. Love their green salsa though.

                                                                                                                              1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                                                                                                Yes, it does veer to the sweet side fairly noticeably but I tend to enjoy that. Lots of green salsa for sure!

                                                                                                                            2. Check this Tacolandia thread for lots of reviews of various tacos: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903985

                                                                                                                              1. Los Primos Cantina in Huntington Beach.

                                                                                                                                Carne Asada- excellent, really flavorful, tender, moist, big pieces of meat.
                                                                                                                                Birria de Res. Bit of misunderstanding as I wanted a bowl of this but he thought I wanted it in a taco. Oh well. Tasty.

                                                                                                                                Good flavor in the black beans which was part of a combo plate.

                                                                                                                                Would come back for the carne asada alone.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                  Any fish or seafood tacos here ?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                    Yes. Was going to get one for ya until I found out it was tilapia.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                      Yes, tilapia is usually beyond worthless.

                                                                                                                                2. Ha! Didn’t think I would make it through week three huh? Well you were right… sorta… Weeks 3 and 4 were hardly as successful as the first two… but when sandwiched in-between was Tacolandia (The reason why I didn’t post last week… stuffing your face with tacos is truly exhausting)… I think this DotM was an overall winner!!

                                                                                                                                  Cinco de Mayo in Culver City: In a previous post, I received a reply on how tacos are truly the everyman’s food. Need proof, go to Titos Tacos and see the Porches next to Hauling trucks. But whenever Titos pops up on this board, someone often claims Cinco de Mayo is better. I decided to try their Taquitos to see if it’d be a better version of the Titos taco. Basically, it was the same. The beef was flavorless (unoffensive), the shell was crunchy (a touch greasy) and the avocatillo salsa had just enough acid to cut through it all. I get it… but I still won’t order it again.


                                                                                                                                  Plancha on Third: Many believe that ground beef is THE marker of unauthentic Mexican food. But anyone with a Chicana mom can tell you, Ground beef is a staple… In fact, it’s a marker of our Spanish past, Picadillo. My brown proud mother made her picadillo in huge batches. We’d have it one night in Chile Rellenos. Another night on Tostadas. I could always find it in one of my school lunches in a burrito. Every now and then though she’d get on a healthy kick and make Taco Salad. Tortilla chips, shredded iceberg lettuce and a scoop of picadillo on top. Not many places make this type of taco salad (Most serve another weakness of mine, Tostada salad) except for Plancha. Plancha’s looks just like moms but with dressing to make the illusion of it being a salad complete. However, the ground beef is HORRIBLE. Ugh.


                                                                                                                                  Angelica’s in Lennox: I’m often in Lennox but rarely eat there as I often have to rush back to the office. I had forever been meaning to try Don Rogelios, a place that advertises its self as Tex Mex and has old style carne guisado. Sadly when I arrived, it was closed! Not one to give up quickly… I looked across the street and saw Angelica’s. Along with the standard Mexican plates, Angelica’s also has DF Style Antojitos. I ordered a quesadilla de Huitlacoche and Flor de Calabasa which came in a housemade tortilla. I wanted to take a picture, but I completely forgot because it took near half an hour to get the order. Instead I ate them up, they were okay, not nearly as good as Antojitos Carmen (Which has heart breakingly has moved to Iowa). But it has inspired me to do more searching around the area.

                                                                                                                                  Martha’s Mexican Deli in the Liquor Store: I meant to talk about Martha’s during the Burrito DotM because I love Martha’s so… It’s a good size open kitchen located in a corner liquor store in Gardena and run by three real deal Abuelitas. Just like an abuelita would, they make the burritos with care. They use rice, but mix it up with a little bit of chile verde sauce so it becomes moist and holds all the ingredients together. This trip, I resisted the burrito for their wonderful Tacos Dorados. Titos take note! The Beef (Which they call Machaca, although it doesn’t contain egg) is wonderfully spiced and tender. The Chicken is shredded and simmered a tomato sauce. And of course, their ground beef. A great example of picadillo, rich and spicy. The only downside is prepare to eat your tacos dorados quickly. They are made to order with a super thin shell. So a few steps from Martha’s counter, you’ll miss the bliss of her taco…


                                                                                                                                  Muddy Leek: I really like Muddy Leek… and the three other restaurants that was once in the same space. However, I found despite the lovely space and the great location, what ever popped up there was one step behind. I went to go try their lunch special of Fish Tacos, which this day was Halibut. The Halibut was okay, needed some more spice to bring it together with a rather the one note slaw. The Tortilla was store bought. But the real downside of this meal was that they justify charging $12 because it comes with Rice and Beans… which are TERRIBLE, dry and lacking any character. For Fancy lunch tacos, I’d go to Frida’s (The real one) which sells them for $10 and makes a quite delectable rice and beans.


                                                                                                                                  Ketchy’s II: After so much Taco failure, I decided to go somewhere that I knew the tacos were terrible and hopefully I’d be pleasantly surprised. Ketchy’s claims to have world famous tacos. A Chili Taco, which I’ll spare you the picture (Think a STFU Parents money shot), but had so much potential in this Chili loving city, but tasted horribly bland. And Lonnie’s which is a hamburger taco. It actually has a beef patty with melted American cheese, spread, shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. It actually tasted like a big mac in a tortilla. Which actually does have a bit of charm. But give me a bowl of Tsukumen at Tsujita anyday…


                                                                                                                                  Tacos Puna Cabras: In an earlier post I made mention of making a return visit to TPC because my first two visits didn’t impress, but where during their soft opening. I made the trek back and it’s busier than ever. But with good reason. They have made improvements all around. They have an order slip that helps with the problem of messed up orders or missing tacos. They take credit cards with a reasonable $1 service charge. The batter is still shockingly light, but has a more crystalline edge. Best of all, the tortilla masa has more depth of flavor and they are cooked to a nice doneness. All in all a huge improvement from the last visit and when paying cash, two tacos and a Mexican Sprite comes out for under $10. Quite a deal for the quality of ingredients!


                                                                                                                                  Wahoo’s: After TPC I was prepared to end the month on a high note. But this month also marked a visit to the vampires (I love the Lebanese too) and in exchange for my pint, I was given a coupon for a free Wahoos taco. I took it as sign… I spent most of these posts complaining about tortillas and Wahoos offers a tortilla alternative to their tacos. A lettuce wrap. It was a good idea, but in execution, not so much. Like most of the lettuce cups at Asian places, the tortilla eventually tears and cracks, making for a mess. A great tortilla and a well prepared taco, protects the hand from any taco spill over. That is what makes a taco the perfect on the go snack. You can have a few and then run without worrying about messy hands. It’s all goes to show, the power of the tortilla.


                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                    Why is it that each and every time I go to Tacos Punta Cabras my bill is upwards of $29 or more just for me ?

                                                                                                                                    So where has the best ground beef, or rather Piccadillo tacos in LA ?

                                                                                                                                    Has anyone hit up Arturo's home of the Puffy Taco lately ? I believe it's located in uptown Whittier ?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                      I average ~$20 at TPC too Kevin :/

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                        Damn dude - you can wolf! You'd be one expensive dinner date - not that I'm courting you - not that there's anything wrong with it - ok, me shut pie-hole.

                                                                                                                                        Three of us were there yesterday for a light lunch. Six tacos, a coctel, tostada and three agua frescas approached $40. By the by, extremely fresh ingredients and nice balance. That pineapple habenero salsa is some sneaky stuff. Had no idea what it was but was told it goes with the tostada. Poured it on, started munching and it was like pins&needles randomly hitting the tongue. Good stuff though.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                          I love that pineapple habanero salsa.

                                                                                                                                          It is a thing of beauty where the pineapple tempers the spice.

                                                                                                                                          My usual order:

                                                                                                                                          Four fish tacos.

                                                                                                                                          The special of the day.

                                                                                                                                          The cauliflower tostada.

                                                                                                                                          And a soda.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                        I. Hate. Cinco de Mayo.

                                                                                                                                        Great report as always, Dommy!

                                                                                                                                      3. Went to El Toro Carniceria in Santa Ana today. Tacos are very good and very large. They cost $2.09 but they are honestly little burrito sized tacos. The tortillas are made fresh on site and are light and fluffy. The only real negative is the ordering process and the oppressive heat did not help today.

                                                                                                                                        Carne Asada - my favorite of the meats today, seasoned perfectly

                                                                                                                                        Cabeza - very unctuous, tender meat and flavorful but not the best I have had. still very good though especially with the green salsa.

                                                                                                                                        Carnitas - very flavorful, a mix of dark and light meat of the carnitas made for a nice transition into different flavors.

                                                                                                                                        Lengua - not the best, not horrible but not great, just average.

                                                                                                                                        Four tacos came to around $12 and that could have seriously red a family of four. Two tacos is plenty. The tacos there are laughable especially when you feel the weight of the bag.

                                                                                                                                        But the main star was the carne asada, definitely one of the best I have had. It was tender, flavorful and no matter how much meat they stuffed in that taco it was good to the last bite. I will definitely be coming back for it and try the other meats they had there. They were sold out of the Al Pastor which was a downer.

                                                                                                                                        1. friday:
                                                                                                                                          el sauz, glendale.
                                                                                                                                          carne asada tacos darn good, but not great. meat could be a touch juicier, the pieces a touch larger.
                                                                                                                                          good salsas, red and green, rather garlicky.
                                                                                                                                          friendly people running an unassuming joint.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: linus

                                                                                                                                            They make a surprisingly good lengua. I could eat it between slices of white bread and some bbq sauce.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                              doesnt surprise me their lengua is good. the barbacoa tacos are good there, too.

                                                                                                                                          2. saturday:

                                                                                                                                            loteria, at the farmers market.
                                                                                                                                            chicharron and conchinita pibil. the latter superior to the former. neither too exciting, and teeny and 3.25.
                                                                                                                                            green salsa pretty good.

                                                                                                                                            1. After all the talk about Tacos Punta Cabras we checked it out yesterday. We had fish, shrimp and scallop tacos. I think I liked shrimp the best. Scallop was a little too heavy on the batter for me. Everything was cooked perfectly. The star of the show was the mixta tostado. Next time I will get two.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: mrsjoujou

                                                                                                                                                I will say, their tostadas are really good... they are so pretty too with the avocado....

                                                                                                                                              2. I love the tacos at Pinche's in Culver City, and of course at Loteria in the Farmers Market.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aching

                                                                                                                                                      Aching, these maps are marvelous! Thank you for putting them together - they are so helpful.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                                                                                        You're very welcome - I'm glad you like them!

                                                                                                                                                    2. Finally got to visit Tinga in Santa Monica. Very cute place, they did a great job decorating the separate areas of the courtyard and there's some great hand drawn art everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                      Tried the al pastor and cochinita pibil tacos for the first round. The al pastor was really wonderful; had a depth of flavor that I just don't get with street tacos. Nice small pieces of pineapple and it had a lime salsa on it that brought just the right acidic note to it. I asked for the habanero salsa on the cochinita pibil to be on the side so I called actually taste and ultimately, finish the taco. Really flavorful and tender shredded pork, with some texture and char. I liked it better than Guisado's for that reason, as theirs seem to be softer and more stew-like. Once I put the habanero salsa on, look out, en fuego!

                                                                                                                                                      I also tried the papas bravas. Very tasty, though I wished it had a few more poblano strips on it. I liked the bright green salsa it came garnished with, called Mother In Law's. Not spicy but very vibrant. Also loved the pickled radishes. The papas themselves could have had a touch more flavor, and I probably like the Loteria version better, but still very good. I really loved the handmade corn tortillas they served - nice chew & texture and thick enough to hold the fillings without resorting to using two on each taco.

                                                                                                                                                      With a full bar, happy hour, and late night serving (kitchen closes at midnight) on Thursday-Sunday, I will definitely be back.


                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the review, even past the expiration of this DotM. :-) I've read some middling reviews of this place, so it's nice to read a positive one. I'll need to try it some time.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                                                                                          But it was tacos as dish of the month which ended 2 weeks ago. It just so happened that I wast near Rutt's Cafe on Washington and went in for a convenient meal. I was intrigued that they mention tacos on their menu. It's on page 5. http://www.ruttscafe.com/ruttscafe_cu...
                                                                                                                                                          I ordered a kalua taco which the server described as "pulled pork." It's unlike the usual saucy pulled pork as in the usual bbq I've eaten before. It's a tender slow roasted pork with a bit of salty flavor. When it arrived it looked almost like an open ended burrito. It was 2 mass produced thin 5" corn tortillas slightly overlapped and wrapped around a bunch of meat with lots of lettuce, some tomato and some shredded (yellow) cheese. It was wrapped in paper to maintain the integrity of the package.
                                                                                                                                                          No heat and nothing like salsa to accompany the taco. The meat was moist, but I would think a interesting salsa would liven up the meal. Interestingly, that mass of orange in the Rutt's menu next to the taco is a big bunch of cheetos. Interesting interpretation of the taco but not something I'd go out of my way for. I wonder if anyone here has had tacos in Hawaii and if it's anything like Rutt's?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Feed_me

                                                                                                                                                            Just add some of the Tapatio sauce they have on the table next time...We go to Rutt's may once every other month. I usually get either a fried rice Royale (hold the moyashi) or the mixed plate special with macaroni salad and the bbq chicken and kalua pork.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                              In the spirit of dish of the month I decided to get a taco I'd never had before. When I asked my sister if she ever had a taco in Hawaii I got a lecture on how crazy it was to ask for a taco at a hawaiian joint. That's why I avoid talking to her. I also did get a small royale, but since I only go to Rutt's about once every 6 months I made the mistake of forgetting to ask for the fried rice royale. I did e-mail a friend's wife who is from Hawaii who is much more sympathetic than my sister, "Eva Braun." She said she didn't know any taquerias in Hawaii and it was mostly Taco Bell, but she would ask her sister who still lives in Hawaii. I'm now working on trying a new sandwich. I'll looking for an interesting sandwich joint and I'll report back around Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Feed_me

                                                                                                                                                                We stumbled upon one in Maui back in 2004. Don't recall the name or location but it was run by a Latino family and was non-tacobellish.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm sure you're right bulavinaka. You're a reliable source of matters foodie. My friend's wife left Hawaii years ago when she came to the mainland to teach. She told me L.A. school recruiters came to the islands because it was more a vacation than work for them. She goes back a couple of times a year to visit her family and friends. I'm not sure they do all that much exploration of restaurants. They'd probably figure she lives in a haven for south of the border food. I just remember I know a couple of gals who lived in Hawaii and it gives me a reason to talk to them Won't they be thrilled. Not!