Elevated Tacos Hit West Adams - Bee Taqueria [Thoughts + Pics]

Like Ramen openings, we’re getting to a point where the announcement of a new Chef-driven / elevated Taco spot opening up is met with barely a head turn. We have so many options for great Tacos that hearing about a new Taco stand opening up doesn’t generate the level of excitement it might have before, a few years earlier.

Reading the news article on Eater LA about a new Taco stand called Bee Taqueria seemed somewhat interesting, but none of our friends were in a rush to check it out. But when our favorite blue smiley face @ipsedixit strongly recommended it, we knew it might be worth a visit. :slight_smile:

As we were ordering, a gentleman chatting with us about the menu turned out to be Chef Alex Carrasco, who told us he cut his teeth working at a variety of restaurants around L.A. and Las Vegas, from Scratch Bar to Westside Tavern, Osteria Mozza and Once at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas (Chef Ricardo Zarate’s Peruvian endeavor over there).

Bee Taqueria is a humble eatery, opening in a small open-air stand with a tiny kitchen and outdoor seating only.

Looking over the menu there are some promising, interesting Tacos and a few other dishes. They seem very much in the vein of a Guerrilla Tacos from the descriptions. The cashier mentions that the menu will probably stay as is, with an eventual addition of a few specials perhaps, and eventually an Omakase (Tasting Menu) option later on down the line.

Aguas Frescas - Melon (Cantaloupe):

Their Aguas Frescas for this visit was Cantaloupe. It tasted of fresh Cantaloupe, but it also tasted a touch watery, not as concentrated or full of Melon flavor as one would like.

Ceviche Frito (Sea Bass, Sweet Potato, Onion, Cilantro, Rocoto Leche):

Initially a bite of just the Fried Sea Bass in the Rocoto Leche Sauce is overwhelmingly acidic and tart, with a meaty, but somewhat dense bite of Fried Fish. But when eaten with the Cilantro, Onions and a bite of the Roasted Sweet Potato, some of the Peruvian Corn Nuts and you get this harmonious balance. The brightness comes through, it’s tart but then balanced by the earthy natural sweetness from the Roasted Sweet Potato and it’s delicious! :slight_smile:

Bee Taqueria’s Full Taco Lineup:

Tinga Betabel Taco (Beets, Onion, Chile Morita, Tomato, Avocado Salsa, Cilantro):

This looks like something out of Guerrilla Tacos’ playbook. Taking a bite…

There’s a beautiful earthiness and delicate sweetness from the Roasted Beets, the Queso Fresco adds a wonderful creaminess and delicate funk, the Chile Morita adds a nice spicy heat, tempered by the Avocado Salsa, and their Handmade Corn Tortillas (with Non-GMO Masa supplied by a friend of Chef Carrasco’s) completes the bite.

It is delicious! :heart:

Highlight of the menu! :blush:

Cochinito Taco (Slow Braised Pork, Onions, Jalapeno, Cilantro and Serrano Sauce):

The first flavor that hits our mouth: Old Pork. :sob: It’s the distinct taste of leftover Pork, refrigerated and then reheated later for order. It’s the same off taste that has plagued so many Ramen shops when they stop caring about quality over the bottom line (e.g., Shin Sen Gumi’s Chashu and many other places). :frowning:

While Bee Taqueria is just getting started, it’s a tough task: As a Chef and Owner, you have to wonder what the call should be: For large batches of food that didn’t sell, what do you do with it? Some restaurants will use unsold types of protein in Soups the next day, or as a topping on various Salads. Some restaurants will choose to reheat the protein and sell it the next day (as long as it didn’t go bad), as seen with so many mediocre Ramen restaurants where the Pork Chashu tastes dull and muted. Same for BBQ restaurants. What do you do with unsold Racks of Ribs and Brisket, etc.?

I can’t blame Bee Taqueria, but at the same time, if you’re pushing across an elevated Taco experience, with fresh farmers market ingredients and even notifying folks you’ll be doing an Omakase / Chef’s Tasting coming soon, it’s better to make smaller quantities of food and sell out for the day, than to make too much and reheat it and sell it to customers the next day.

So in this case, the Cochinito Taco sounded like a good idea, ruined by old-tasting Pork, and besides that, it was dry and stringy. :frowning:

Arrachera Asada Taco (Skirt Steak, Avocado Pipicha Salsa):

The Arrachera Asada Taco was much better. Fresh-tasting, smoky, grilled Skirt Steak, with a nice char, and meatiness. This tasted like real Steak slices (as opposed to the obliterated tiny bits of Beef in most Carne Asada Tacos around L.A.). It was also tender, with a good meaty texture, balanced out by creamy Avocado Pipicha Salsa. And their Handmade Tortillas stood out again. Delicious! :blush:

Cordero BBQ Taco (Shredded Lamb, Beans, Dried Chipotle Sauce, Lamb Broth):

This seems like Chef Carrasco’s take on Barbacoa de Borrego (Slow Roasted Lamb), even serving it with some Consomé (Lamb Broth). This sounded wonderful (I love Lamb, especially Barbacoa de Borrego). Unfortunately the same problem that plagued the Pork Taco rears its ugly head here as well:

Old Lamb! :sob: The whole Taco is ruined by the taste of reheated, leftover Lamb. If you think about it, it’s too audacious a task for a new Taco startup to try and offer up true Barbacoa de Borrego on demand while still retaining freshness. There’s no way the kitchen could maintain a pit with slow roasting Lamb in Maguey Leaves, and pull up a small Taco’s worth of that Slow Roasted Lamb to order.

So the alternative is making a large batch of Lamb, and then refrigerating the leftovers and reheating it to order. It might be fine for less discerning folks, but it was immediately apparent (the old, refrigerated meat taste) from the first bite. :frowning:

If it was made fresh, I’d imagine this Taco might be pretty wonderful.

The Lamb Broth was fine. Not as deeply gamy and moving as great Consome from OG places like Barbacoa Y Birria Estilo Taxco Guerrero, or Aqui Es Texcoco.

Media Luna Taco (Crispy Taco, Shrimp, Scallops, Morita Aioli, Herbs, Shrimp Consomme):

Nice crispy Taco shell, there’s a noticeable brininess with each bite, which imparts an oceanic flavor. It’s not a bad brininess per se, but clearly the Shrimp aren’t live (the cost would be prohibitive), but with the use of frozen Shrimp, it overpowers the Scallops completely. At that point the Scallops are just there for additional texture / filling. But when looking at it like a “Crispy Seafood Taco”? Definitely tasty and the Chile Morita Aioli gives it a nice creamy spiciness. :slight_smile:

The Shrimp Consomme tastes like a potent, delicious Seafood Broth, with a real kick to it.

Beans:

Their side of Beans are made with Black Beans. It’s a touch watery, but there’s enough flavor here to make it a nice accompaniment to the Tacos.

2nd Visit:

Aguas Frescas - Hibiscus + Wild Blueberries:

Bee Taqueria’s version of Jamaica, this was quite tart with a touch of sweetness. Which helped cut the fattiness of some of the Tacos.

Cordero BBQ Taco (Shredded Lamb, Beans, Dried Chipotle Sauce, Lamb Broth):

On this 2nd visit, the Cordero BBQ Taco tasted even older than the 1st visit. :sob: This Shredded Lamb tasted like it was maybe leftovers from 2 or 3 days ago, with that old funk that leftovers have. :cry: Ruined the Taco. Avoid.

Arrachera Asada Taco (Skirt Steak, Avocado Pipicha Salsa):

Fresh, meaty, nice smoky char from the Skirt Steak. And while not medium-rare, it still had some tender meatiness to it, maybe a barely well-done, but still tasty. Definitely our 2nd favorite Taco on the menu. :slight_smile: Their Handmade Corn Tortillas were a standout.

Cochinito Taco (Slow Braised Pork, Onions, Jalapeno, Cilantro and Serrano Sauce):

We were bracing for the worst, but on this 2nd visit, their Cochinito Pork Taco tasted fresh! :open_mouth: Tender, bright slivers of Slow Braised Pork that tasted like they just finished braising in time for lunch. It was tasty and much better! :slight_smile:

However, about 70% of the Taco was Pork Fat. :sob: This wasn’t supposed to be a “Pork Belly Taco” but it tasted like the cut of Pork in this Taco was unfortunately a huge chunk of the Fat layer. The lean with a bit of the Pork Fat combined made this quite delicious.

Media Luna Taco (Crispy Taco, Shrimp, Scallops, Morita Aioli, Herbs, Shrimp Consomme):

About the same as the 1st visit: Crispy, crunchy Taco shell, a solid oceanic flavor with Shrimp dominating the Taco. Solid, but a bit pricey considering you don’t notice the Scallops at all in the taste.

Bee Taqueria is a casual, Take-Out / Fast Casual type of Taco stand, serving up elevated Tacos that seem like they’re trying to follow in the path of something like Chef Wes Avila’s Guerrilla Tacos, except not as good. Considering how close it is to Culver City and the Westside, this might be a decent alternative for elevated Tacos since Tacos Punta Cabras and its attempt at “fancy Tacos” closed down.

There’s potential for sure, with the delicious Ceviche Frito, the solid Arrachera Asada Taco - a good Skirt Steak Taco given the lack of great choices in the area - but don’t miss out on their Tinga Betabel Taco, the Roasted Beets, Onions, Chile Morita, Tomato, Avocado Salsa offering that shows the promise of Chef Carrasco and what he can do with fresh ingredients, unfettered by the constraints of managing inventory for a new startup restaurant.

Until the staff can figure out a way to deliver fresh, cooked-to-order Lamb and Pork, those Tacos are definitely the weakest links. Lastly, while the promise of an Omakase / Tasting Menu experience sounds great, Bee Taqueria’s outdoor-only dining has proven to be a challenge with an unfortunate fly problem (a ton of flies everywhere). :frowning: They are so rabid and hungry they’ll land on your food even while you desperately try to shoo them away.

There’s potential, and we remain hopeful the new Specials and changes to the menu (dropping the Lamb and Pork, or changing to a fresher cooking method) might make it a nice standout worth stopping by in the coming months.

Bee Taqueria
5754 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Tel: (323) 452-9575

7 Likes

so if i go and avoid pork and lamb tacos i’m good?

Hi @Nemroz,

Yah on their current menu, avoid the lamb and pork tacos. Their Tinga Betabel (Roasted Beets, Queso Fresco, Chile Morita Taco) was our favorite, really great. Arrachera Asada (Steak Taco) also solid. The Shrimp & Scallop Taco was also fine, loved the crispy shell and Shrimp Consomme with it. Enjoy the Handmade Non-GMO Corn Tortillas. :slight_smile: