A few more Taco spots were recommended to us over the past few months, so it was time for another journey.
Avenue 26 Taco Stand
Someone had mentioned this little Taco setup on Avenue 26 and we were excited to try it out.
As we walked up, the smell of grilled meat was wafting all the way down the street. I was really looking forward to this.
Asking the friendly staff up front, he mentioned that Suadero was their specialty, so we started with a Suadero (Specific Cut of Beef) Taco:
The Suadero was a bit chewy and salty. It was pretty decent, but nothing worth driving across town for.
Carne Asada Taco:
Their Carne Asada had no smokiness, and was mainly salty and greasy. It tasted like a standard Carne Asada Taco you'd find at many Taco trucks / stands around town.
Still at $1.25 per Taco, it is cheap and reasonable if you're in the area.
The one absolute highlight at Avenue 26 are their free Stewed / Boiled Potatoes. As we were getting out order and Salsa, one of the servers asked us if we wanted these Potatoes. They cook them in the same pot as their other meats (shown in the pic above), and have a deep, delicious flavor. Really unique for a Taco stand. And it made the visit much more enjoyable.
Avenue 26 Taco Stand
W. Ave 26 and Humboldt Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
A Cut Above
The interesting Butcher Shop on the Westside featuring Pasture-Raised, All Natural, Nose-to-Tail Meat selections happened to also be serving Grass-Fed Beef Tacos. We had to try this as well:
Spicy Grass-Fed Beef Barbacoa Taco (with Shredded Cabbage, Red Onion, Cilantro):
First, the quality of the Grass-Fed Beef was without question. It had a gamier, beefy flavor that's inherent with good Grass-Fed Beef. Unfortunately (as it is with Grass-Fed Beef), it's really lean, and the Beef was stringy. There was a nice kick in spice levels, but the Barbacoa sauce made it feel oversauced and a bit sweet as well (almost BBQ-like).
At $3.50 per Taco this is still reasonable considering the quality of Beef, but we had hoped the flavors and texture of the Beef were better.
A Cut Above
2453 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Tel: (310) 998-8500
Amor Y Tacos
We were really looking forward to this place, hearing many people talk about how inventive their Tacos were. Located in a less busy area of Cerritos, Amor Y Tacos is the brainchild of Chef-Owner Thomas Ortega (who also runs Ortega 120).
Their interior is kitschy, wacky, yet also warm and inviting.
They make their own Tortillas by hand, which is a nice touch, and a good sign.
Complimentary Chips & Salsa:
Tasted fine; nothing to write home about.
Agua Fresca: Watermelon:
Refreshing, but a bit too sweet.
The Tacos arrived:
Tinga de Pollo Taco (Salsa Verde, Cotija Cheese, Cilantro Radish, Crema):
The first thing that hit the senses was the funky aroma of their Cotjia Cheese. It's more noticeable than many types of Cotija I've had at other places. Then the Crema and Salsa Verde dominate the Taco.
Short Rib Taco (Burnt Habenero Crema, Caramelized Onion, Queso Fresco, Micro Cilantro, Pickled Radish):
Another Taco that sounded delicious (who doesn't love slow-cooked Short Rib?), but the funk of their Cheese hit the senses immediately. The actual Short Rib was more discernible this time (compared to the Chicken), being somewhat tender, but not as mouth-wateringly succulent as great Short Rib dishes can be. The Crema, Cilantro and Cheese (similar ingredients in the previous Taco) prevailed.
Al Pastor Taco (Avocado Salsa, Charred Pineapple, Cotjia Cheese, Cilantro):
I didn't see any Trompo in the kitchen when we peaked, but I was still hopeful. The Al Pastor was sadly a far cry from Leo's Tacos famous Al Pastor. The Pork was dry, the Pineapple finally gave this Taco a standout quality (compared to the previous ones), but the Cotija Cheese once again overpowered the Taco.
Carnitas Taco (Amor Salsa, Salsa Avocado, Pickled Onion, Cotija Cheese, Cilantro):
At this point it became apparent that Amor Y Tacos is in the "Big, Wild Flavors!" category of cooking. Like the Super Unicorn Dragon Philly Cream Cheese Sushi Rolls, their flavoring was just heavy-handed and excessive. The Carnitas had a very similar flavor profile to all the Tacos we had today, literally tasting mainly of pungent Cheese and Cilantro (and usually some creamy sauce).
The Carnitas were a bit stringy and nothing like the gorgeous porcine flavors of Villa Moreliana, Carnitas Uruapan and a few other specialists around town.
Carne Asada Taco (Salsa de Arbol, Avocado, Cotija Cheese, Cilantro, Onions):
Their Carne Asada lacked any smokiness. It was thankfully tender, but once again, Cheese & Cilantro dominated the flavors. Tacos La Carreta (at $1.25) were far more enjoyable.
Rajas con Queso Taco (Amor Salsa, Cilantro, Queso Fresco):
Their Vegetarian Taco was a large chunk of Cheese, Bell Peppers and Cilantro and Queso Fresco. This one was actually the most distinct and enjoyable Taco. A nice crunch and some melting Cheese, but not much else.
Rice & Beans:
Their Pinto Beans actually showed restraint, and were quite tasty (not refried), being moderately salted and seasoned, while the Rice was rather salty and unremarkable.
The Tacos are an affordable $3 / Taco, but unfortunately their seasoning and ingredients feel like someone trying to be like Guerilla Tacos, but just throwing way too many flavors on top of the core protein, overpowering and covering up, rather than enhancing.
Amor Y Tacos
13333 South Street
Cerritos, CA 90703
Tel: (562) 860-2667
Guerilla Tacos (Revisit)
This week's menu at Guerilla Tacos sounded intriguing, and as a sanity check, we wanted to see how Chef Wes Avila's gourmet Tacos compared, because Guerilla can use some outrageous (in a good way) ingredients.
Agua Fresca: Strawberry & Pineapple Juice:
Their Agua Fresca today was fresh-ground Strawberries with Pineapple mixed together. It was delicious, lightly sweet (not overly sweetened) and tasting like natural fruit rather than something synthetic. Delicious!
Eggplant Taco (Red Pepper Escabeche, Fried Cheese, Dried Figs, Hazelnut, Parsley):
The Eggplant is the star here, slow-roasted, soft, almost luscious, and the Fried Cheese is soft and melty, and it serves to embrace all the other ingredients, adding some cohesion. The Red Pepper Escabeche adds just a bit of tartness, while the Dried Figs add a little bit of sweetness, and the Hazelnuts are fresh and toasted, adding a beautiful nutty finish.
THIS is how you do "gourmet / new flavors" for Tacos (unlike what Amor Y Tacos was trying to do). No ingredient overpowered anything else; well-balanced, subtle, yet distinct. Just outstanding!
Cauliflower Taco (Burnt Tomato Chile, Castelvetrano Olives, Dates, Pistachios, Chives):
Another outstanding Taco! The Cauliflower retained a distinct spotlight with each bite, accented and complemented by the Housemade Burnt Tomato Chile, the Castelvetrano Olives were surprisingly delicate, with the Dates and Pistachios adding just the right balance of sweet and nutty here as well, but distinct from the Eggplant Taco. Wonderful!
Soft Shell Shrimp Torta (Habanero Salsa, Heirloom Tomatoes, Chipotle Crema, Cabbage Slaw):
Fantastic! The Soft Shell Shrimp was like Soft Shell Crab, crispy and soft enough to eat the Shrimp and Shell. The Shrimp had a good brininess, and one of them had Roe (so good!) , and it worked really well with their 2 Housemade Salsas. Note that their Habenero was incendiary! A strong burst of heat, but then it subsided after a few minutes.
Chef Avila continues to deliver some excellent flavors (rotating each week, with new seasonal items). We can't wait for his brick and mortar to finally open.
Check their Website for Latest Locations and New Menu each Week:
Tacos El Jefe
As we were driving around the city, another Taco truck caught my eye, with a large crowd. We decided to stop by to check it out.
It turns out Tacos El Jefe while offering a variety of meats specializes in Suadero.
According to Wikipedia, Suadero is a special cut of Beef between the belly and the leg. Regardless, Tacos El Jefe's Suadero was tender, very well seasoned and pretty tasty! It had the taste of being slow-cooked, with special attention to seasonings. I would order this again.
Note: The friendly server recommended using their Habenero Salsa (the orange colored one) to pair with this Taco and it was spot-on! Really nice pairing.
Made from the meat from the head portion, this was decent, but not really amazing. Still pretty tasty, and at $1.25 it's just fine.
Tacos El Jefe
2377 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tel: (323) 334-8039
Tacos La Guera (Revisit)
Being right down the street from El Jefe was the excellent newcomer to the Taco scene, Tacos La Guera. It was time for a revisit (that, and our friends who tagged along insisted we try their Al Pastor again to see how it compared to Leo's and other places).
There was a massive crowd tonight, and their Trompo was out in full force:
Al Pastor Taco:
Absolutely delicious! Tacos La Guera's Al Pastor Tacos were just as good as Leo's Tacos on this night. Crisped edges of juicy Pork, well-seasoned, more salty than sweet (which is good), and the Pineapple slice giving it just the extra sweetness to balance it all out.
Suadero & Buche Tacos (Suadero in the front of the pic):
This journey somehow turned into a Suadero exploration for some reason, LOL, but La Guera's Suadero is another specialty of theirs. This was much more tender, luscious and just more delicious than El Jefe's version (which wasn't bad at all). La Guera's is more like a stew, and there are tender lean and fatty bits of slow-cooked Beef. Really delicious!
Their Buche Taco (Pork Stomach) was also quite good. Also stewed then seared on the flat top, it was one of the better Buche Tacos we've had recently.
At $1.25 / Taco for some of the best Al Pastor and Suadero in town, it's a real bargain! Thanks again to @Sgee for the tip on this place.
Tacos La Guera
(Evenings only, Mon - Thurs, 5:00 p.m. - Midnight; Fri - Sun, 5:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.)
Pico Blvd. & Hobart Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tacos Estilo D.F. (MLK & Hobart Blvd.)
Thanks to @Mattapoisett_in_LA, we headed off to try this new Taco stand that he just ran into recently. It seems relatively unknown as there was only 1 other group there besides us.
They had a Trompo out, but it was sadly on low heat, and they would slice some of the meat off and cook it on the flat top grill instead of just slicing it off the Trompo.
Al Pastor Tacos:
They were tasty. They lacked the searing and flavoring of Leo's Tacos and Tacos La Guera's amazing Al Pastor, but they were well-seasoned and a nice balance of salty and sweet.
Volcanes (Al Pastor, Refried Beans, Queso):
The owner(?) mentioned they had a specialty to recommend: Volcanes, which he explained to be a crisped Tortilla shell, topped with Refried Beans, choice of meat (he recommended the Al Pastor), and then Cheese, which he then proceeded to invert and sear on the flat top(!).
The result is a ridiculously tasty crunchy, meaty, seared cheese (crisped on the outside, melty on the inside) treat that probably belongs in the Hungry / Drunk thread. LOL. This was quite good!
At $1.25 / Taco this was another bargain and a nice alternative if you're closer to this corner than Leo's or La Guera.
Tacos Estilo D.F.
W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. & Hobart Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90062
Tel: (323) 947-5232
Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero (Revisit)
With the weather cooling down, it was time to revisit one of our all-time favorites.
Handmade Tortillas, being made fresh for each order:
Agua Fresca: Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower Drink):
Not too sweet. Refreshing.
Consomme (Lamb Soup):
Delicate, not too salty, clean, pure Lamb Soup. Our favorite Lamb Consomme in town!
Lamb Pancita Taco (Lamb Stomach, Organs Blend):
Just as fresh, bright and minerally and funky as before! Definitely for fans of Offal like @theoffalo. This was quite good, even for me (that doesn't eat much Lamb Offal).
Lamb Maciza Taco (Lamb Shoulder / Leg Meat):
Wonderfully juicy, succulent, tender morsels of Lamb Shoulder & Lamb Leg Meat. Nicely seasoned, not too salty and just fragrant. My favorite Lamb Tacos in L.A.!
Lamb Faldita Taco (Lamb Skirt Steak):
Today we got to try their Faldita cut of their Whole Lamb Barbacoa, which is described to us as the "Lamb Skirt Steak." It is delicious, a bit fatty with lean meat as well, and more lush than the Lamb Shoulder.
Birria Taco (Goat):
And we had to try their amazing Goat Birria Tacos again. More intense, gamy but still tender and juicy. Outstanding and also our favorite Goat Tacos around.
This was another fun Taco journey. Can't wait to see what other awesome Tacos arrive in the coming year!
Saturday & Sundays Only
7:00 a.m. - Lamb is sold out
Barbacoa y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero
5609 McKinley Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011