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Tacolandia Live Blog (Attending 'Hounds, Please Participate!)

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Tacolandia, and 30 restaurants will be serving tacos and, I presume, other foods, from noon to 5 PM. I am not going to attempt to live blog the event all by myself--I'd like to actually enjoy the festivities--but I do plan on posting some on-the-spot reports and reviews of items, as well as photos, to this thread. I'm hoping other Chowhounds will do the same here.

From the other Tacolandia thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904668), I believe the following 'hounds will be there: ns1, Dommy (and Mattapoisett?), ClarissaW, kevin, WildSwede. I'm dragging chrishei with me and my family. Anyone else coming? Do we want pick a time and booth and have a quick informal meet-up? Or should we remain in obscurity and anonymity (well, except for ClarissaW)?

Another question to hopefully get the thread going before the event starts: Which restaurants' grub are you looking forward to having/trying most?

For me, probably La Guerrerense, since they're in Ensenada and a bit difficult for me to get to outside these north-of-the-border events. I'm also looking forward to trying whatever dish Bistro LQ's is serving with rabbit liver (chef Laurent Quenioux has been posting pics on Twitter). And of course I want to know what interesting dish Tacos Punta Cabras will be serving that chef Daniel Snukal says will be so good it'll make me want to punch someone (but I won't--I'm an eater, not a fighter).

According to the official site (http://microapp.laweekly.com/tacolandia/), here's the list of participants:

Bistro LQ
Bizarra Capital
Cacao Mexicatessen
Cafecito Organico
Chichen Itza
Coni' Seafood
Flor del Rio Restaurant
George's At The Cove
Gish Bac Restaurante Oaxaqueno
Guerilla Tacos
La Guerrerense
La Monarca Bakery
La Tiendita Mexicana
Leo's Taco Truck
Loteria Grill
Mariscos Jaliscos
Mariscos El Mazateno
Mexicali Taco Co.
Rocios Mole De Los Dioses
SoHo Taco
SOL Mexican Cocina
Spirit House Bar
Taco Maria
Tacos Kokopelli
Tacos Punta Cabras
Tamales Elena

I've also uploaded a preliminary map that Soho Taco posted a week ago for reference. Unfortunately it's missing the legend, but if we do decide to gather somewhere, we can use it to pick a place, or name a restaurant's booth to meet at and then see which booth it is when we all arrive.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oops, here's the map.

    1. Dommy or I will have our sail bag back pack with a #4 on it.

      1. Wish I could make it. Looking forward to your reports.

        1. Crowded! Great cured snapper from George's. Spicy marlin tacos from Coni.

          1. Los Anaya has the only homade tortilla in the place.

            Sorry strike that Soho does too.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

              The Dos Bros Taco truck cross promoting the Turbo movie is making fresh tortilla behind the truck.

              1. re: PeterCC

                That was Los Anayas running that truck.

              2. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                Spirit House Bar had handmade tortillas as well.

                1. re: Johnny L

                  The Spirit House taco was the last one I had. It was quite simple compared to the other tacos but it was very good. I was a bit disheartened that the first 10 or so tacos I had, their tortillas came from a bag and didn't add anything and in a few cases detracted from the tacos they were apart of.

                  1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                    To their credit (and for a fair # of participants), the tortillas were indeed handmade. Just wasn't pressed at the event - made beforehand. Can't complain though, as it's a very tall task for a food festival.

                    1. re: chrishei

                      lots of tortillas felt that way (ie handmade beforehand). made the generic store bought tortillas stand out soooooo bad.

                      I'm sure the carnitas taco I had would have been great on any other day, but against all the fresh handmade tortillas it was a poor showing.

                      1. re: ns1

                        What was in the Bistro LQ taco ?

                        1. re: kevin

                          from chrishei:
                          Bistro LQ – Rabbit Green Mole Taco, Rabbit Liver Taco

                          Chef Laurent actually had multiple variations of tacos available during the festival (including “FG” for those who knew the secret password), but these 2 rabbit-based tacos were very good. The rabbit in green mole was very traditional in execution and flavor, with the pulled rabbit meat being ever-so-tender. The rabbit livers, on the other hand, was very interesting, not unlike chicken livers.

                          Tasty enough for a tasting menu, but didn't have that "OMG let's drive down there and get some right now!" effect. I wouldn't want to eat 5 of them, let's put it that way.

              3. Soho Lobster Taco, so far my choice for best taco.

                1. Oh my god im at the food event of my dreams.

                  1. Photos taking too long to post. In line at Kokopelli for baby pulpo.

                    1 Reply
                      1. Achiote marinate red snapper from George's in SD. A little sweet but good

                            1. Tacos Punta Cabras scallop and sea urchin taco.

                              Soho Taco's lobster taco.

                                1. re: chrishei

                                  Mine too! The salsas just killed it.... Of course P. had to laugh that my favorite actually wasn't a taco... ;)


                                  1. re: chrishei

                                    Been there done that. Lol, j/k. Probably one of my favorites there too but doesn't compare to what they have at their place down in Ensenada.

                                    Bistro LQ's off menu stuff was excellent too.

                                    1. re: chrishei

                                      After some consideration, my top 7 in alphabetical order (but just about everything I tried today was at least good):

                                      - Chichen Itza: lechon taco
                                      - Coni'Seafood: smoked marlin taco
                                      - George's at the Cove: cured snapped taco
                                      - La Guerrerense: smoked yellowtail pate & uni tostadas
                                      - Mariscos Jalisco: shrimp taco dorado
                                      - SoHo Taco: lobster taco on fresh blue corn tortilla
                                      - Tacos Kokopelli: kraken taco

                                      1. re: chrishei

                                        So happy to see this list! As a non meat eater I was thrilled to find so much that I could enjoy - and I loved the 5 out of your 7 that I consumed!

                                        1. re: chrishei

                                          Now what was a tostada doing on the bill of offerings ????

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            Again - if it was there, it's eligible :)

                                          1. re: wienermobile

                                            Not too bad. Even the longest lines (for La Guerrerense, for Soho Taco's lobster tacos, etc) took no more than 10-15 minutes *at most*. Shorter than lines at food trucks normally. The fact that each place only served one or two dishes and no financial transactions were occurring really sped up the process.

                                            1. re: PeterCC

                                              Agreed. It was a great event. Will definitely go next year (if they do it again). I loved La Guerrerense. I loved all the salsas they had. I think the guy put at least 3 of them on each of the tacos I got. Delicious! I also liked Chichen Itza's pork tacos with their habanero salsa. I should have had my cameras out more - I cannot remember everything.

                                              1. re: WildSwede

                                                I was lucky enough to get a pork bone from Chicken Itza's whole roast pig with a decent amount of meat still stuck to it when I went up to their line. It was pretty funny walking around with people saying "Whoa, what is that?" Felt special. Heh. :-)

                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                      "Anybody want a pig femur?"

                                                      "Um, yeah!"

                                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                                    Awesome! ;-) The people from Chichen Itza always remember me. They are lovely people.

                                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                                      I like Chichen Itza a lot, especially for that habanero salsa.

                                                      1. re: WildSwede

                                                        It still bugs me that they closed the Sixth Street location.

                                              2. Damn. Didn't get to make it today.

                                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                                    Thanks for this link. This site has some of the most beautiful and detailed photographs of tacos I have ever seen.

                                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                                      pro food blogger status. thanks.

                                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                                        Awesome! Thank you for posting the link and thank you to chishei for the fabulous write-up (and for helping me remember which was which!).

                                                      2. Best taco:
                                                        TBC, with "La Guerrerense" being a very, very close second (i didn't try the SoHo taco)

                                                        worst taco:
                                                        portobello mushroom from Kokopelli. absolutely terrible, couldn't get past 2 bites.

                                                        most personally disappointing:
                                                        LQ and Mariscos Jalisco.

                                                        overall: best $20 I've spent in eons, Bill please do it again.

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                          My only issue was some people ran out of food early which really sucks since the event runs until 5:00pm and it was mostly up to La Gurrerense and SoHo to keep people fed which is more surprisingly since they had more expensive ingredients too and kept busting them out.

                                                          1. re: Johnny L

                                                            I was surprised about that, too. Did you notice how many coolers soho had behind their counter? I would have thought they would have run out much quicker than the others. The first one I noticed as being sold out was George's. Then when I walked around at 3:30 I noticed that a lot of the places were already sold out. And what was it with the music not starting until almost 4? That was strange as well.

                                                            1. re: WildSwede

                                                              Soho had at a half dozen large coolers behind the counter. I guess they came really prepared!

                                                              I saw a tweet/instagram from George's chef Trey Foshee that he made 800 servings. I read somewhere that Tacolandia was expecting 1500 attendees, so I was wondering how he was going to make that last.

                                                              Yeah, we left right before 4 PM and music hadn't started yet.

                                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                                The vendors were told to make 800 servings.

                                                                1. re: Johnny L

                                                                  Better safe than sorry anyways - last thing you want is vendor to have leftovers. I'm sure everything will run even more smoothly next year. Looking forward to everyone's return, including Spirit House *wink*.

                                                                  1. re: Johnny L

                                                                    I gotta think Soho served more than 800 lobster tacos.

                                                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                                                      According to their blog they brought enough to do 1,200 servings.


                                                              2. re: Johnny L

                                                                I share your complaints. Especially sad I missed Mision 19 - they were probably out by 3 :(

                                                                At least I was able to try ~23 tacos before leaving (left the same time as PeterCC)...

                                                                1. re: chrishei

                                                                  I probably ate $20 worth of product from TPC/La Guerrerense alone.

                                                                  1. re: ns1


                                                                    i should have gone to this dope event. The price to quality ratio is very very very very good it seems like.

                                                                    And it sounded like a couple places had the sea urchin tacos. If you had about five of those, your meal ticket was already paid for for the day.

                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                      it was the best QPR out of any food event this year; I cannot fathom any other event beating this one out for QPR.

                                                                      1. re: ns1


                                                                        The JGold event which was very good was still five times the price.

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          Not to mention how ridiculously hot it was last year...

                                                            2. [For captioned photos in-line with text, and the ability to see higher-resolution sizes, please visit http://theoffalo.com/2013/06/tacoland...]

                                                              LA Weekly's inaugural Tacolandia food festival took place on Sunday, June 23, 2013, in the parking lot of the Hollywood Palladium. Anticipation had been building, with curator Bill "Street Gourmet LA" Esparza giving tours to the foodielites of the various participating taquerias, cocinas, trucks, etc., in the weeks leading up to the event.

                                                              Tickets had been on sale since April, at an incredibly reasonable $20 for general admission (unlimited food), $40 for VIP (unlimited food & drink). In early June, Gilt City started selling pairs of tickets at 30% off. Within two days of the deal going live, Tacolandia was SOLD OUT! This left many procrastinators quite desperate and forlorn, if Twitter was any indication.

                                                              I was lucky enough to snag the last pair of Gilt City's tickets; problem was I still needed one for my younger daughter. Several sites were running contests, so I entered them all and crossed my fingers. Against all odds, I managed to win two tickets from Voice Places just days before the event. Having one extra ticket (older daughter away at camp), I cajoled chrishei into joining us.

                                                              My family and I met up with Chris outside the Hollywood Palladium shorty after noon on Sunday. After a slight snag with getting our tickets/bracelets, we were in! I read somewhere that Tacolandia had sold 1,500 tickets, and I believed it. The festival was already hopping less than a half hour into the festivities.

                                                              I managed to sample from nearly two dozen participants. Highlights included Bistro LQ's rabbit liver tacos, George's cured snapper tacos, Tacos Punta Cabras' scallops and sea urchin tacos, and Mariscos La Guerrerense's fish/scallop & sea urchin/clam tostaditos. Truth is that I enjoyed nearly everything that I had, including a vegetarian tostada from SOL Cocina topped with goat cheese and peanuts. Simple but delicious (this coming from a meat lover).

                                                              Lest one thinks it was all rainbows and unicorns (mmm, tacos de unicornio--ahem!), there were some disappointments. The weather was sunny and hot, which is definitely better than raining and cold, but the place needed more umbrellas for shade. The live mariachi band that was to start performing at 3 PM only took the stage at 4 PM when we were just getting ready to leave. Also, I saw buckets of ice in front of most booths and was hoping they contained bottled waters, but alas they did not. (Props to Jarritos for the free, ice cold sodas!)

                                                              Probably the biggest disappointment was that many participants ran out of food as early as 3 PM (or earlier). Also, some of the participants still didn't have their dishes ready when the festival started, or even within the first half hour. Unfortunately, due to these two issues, I missed out on a few tacos that I really wanted to try, including Loteria Grill's taco bilingue (beef and pork lengua together) and Mision 19's tripa y ubre de res (tripe and cow udder). However, I was lucky enough to score a pork femur "taco" from Chichen Itza, so there's that.

                                                              Getting back to what was great, aside from the food, I got to meet Bill Esparza, who was a very gracious host. I also got to chat briefly with ClarissaW, and I'm very much looking forward to her appearance on the "Hidden Los Angeles" episode of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods America, airing July 1, 2013. [/plug]

                                                              We left after nearly 4 hours of stuffing ourselves silly. Believe it or not, I tried more than what my pictures would indicate; I had a few pictures that didn't turn out great, for Leo's Taco Truck's al pastor tacos, Chichen Itza's lechon tacos, pastries from La Monarca, and more. We really enjoyed ourselves at this inaugural Tacolandia. Can't wait until next year!

                                                              Thank you to Bill Esparza, for curating an awesome list of partipants, and for pointing me at Gilt City in my most desperate hour! Thank you to Voice Places for giving me the ticket I needed for my daughter, and allowing me to have my "sidekick" (his word, not mine) Chris tag along too. Thank you to LA Weekly for putting on a tremendous festival, and pulling it off, as far as I could tell, mostly without a hitch. Thank you to Jarritos for providing refreshing Mexican sodas all afternoon!

                                                              Last but not least, a big THANK YOU to all the participants, who came from near and far, and fed us their most fantastic grub! Salud!

                                                              Photos in rough alphabetical order:

                                                              1. Crowds at Tacolandia
                                                              2. Bistro LQ's Rabbit Liver Taco
                                                              3. CaCao Mexicatessen's Beef Cheeks Taco
                                                              4. Chichen Itza's Pork Bone "Taco" & Jarritos' Mexican Cola
                                                              5. Coni'Seafood's Smoked Marlin Taco
                                                              6. Flor del Rio's Birria Taco
                                                              7. George's at the Cove's Cured Snapper Taco
                                                              8. Guerrilla Tacos' Lengua Taco
                                                              9. Mariscos Jalisco's Shrimp Dorado Taco
                                                              10. Jarritos and Tacos, a Balanced Meal
                                                              11. Tacos Kokopelli Grillin'
                                                              12. Tacos Kokopelli's "Kraken" (Octopus) Taco
                                                              13. Mariscos La Guerrerense
                                                              14. Mariscos La Guerrerense's Scallop/Fish & Clam/Sea Urchin Tostaditos
                                                              15. Rocio's Mole de los Dioses's Carnitas & Chicken Mole Tacos
                                                              16. Soho Taco's Lobster Tacos
                                                              17. SOL Cocina's Goat Cheese and Peanut Tostada
                                                              18. Spirit House's Chashu Taco
                                                              19. Tacos Punta Cabras' Scallop and Sea Urchin Taco
                                                              20. Ricardo Zarate's Pork Belly Taco

                                                              13 Replies
                                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                                I believe I played the role of "older daughter" very well.

                                                                1. re: chrishei

                                                                  For crying out loud, I'm only a decade older than you...

                                                                  1. re: PeterCC


                                                                    It looks great.

                                                                    Too bad I missed out, but my waistline did benefit for the day.

                                                                2. re: PeterCC

                                                                  Awesome! Thank you, Peter, nicely said. Also, I want to say thank you for the free parking (was definitely not expecting that!) and to the "individual food services" booth that gave out free water, but didn't advertise it.

                                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                                    Welcome! Where did you find free parking near the venue? Chris parked down Gower a ways. We decided to pay for parking since we were running late and so we wouldn't need to worry about moving the car (all the metered spots nearby had Sunday hours posted and were all limited to 1 or 2 hours).

                                                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                                                        Yeah, I was thrilled to find a parking on Sunset until we got out and read the signs. Damn. We parked in the lot that was right beyond the gate behind the Jarritos truck. Just pulled in and looked around for someone to give $$ to and no one was there. Maybe we were not supposed to park there??!!

                                                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                                                          That was for the vendors haha (I think).

                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                            Heh, I think you parked in the vendor's lot. I saw the chefs from TPC walking into that lot, and there was a security guard at the fence right next to the Jarritos truck who checked them (for a bracelet or some other ID of some sort, I assume) and then letting them in... So you lucked out! Hey, you take what you can get. :-) We paid $10 to park in one of the lots across the street.

                                                                            1. re: PeterCC

                                                                              That's funny. We started walking toward that gate to get in, but the guard told some people in front of us that we had to go around, so we did.
                                                                              There was plenty of parking! ;-)

                                                                          2. re: PeterCC

                                                                            Dommy and I took Expo to the Red Line got off at Hollywood and Vine and walked the block and a half to the Palladium. A perfect way to go.

                                                                        2. Am I allowed to do this?

                                                                          National coverage. 36 photos of the event and all of the taco varieties:


                                                                          Watch me get whacked!

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                            Why wouldn't you be allowed? Thanks for the link!

                                                                            1. re: PeterCC

                                                                              Usually, when I post a link to pictures or [in the east coast food thread] the mods take down my post and sometimes the stuff around it.

                                                                            2. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                              I guess Mariscos El Mazateno wasn't there after all...

                                                                            3. Anyone who went last year who's going this year but haven't spoken up on this year's thread? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/973256