Tuesday, June 27, 2006

taco blogging

There is a fine, fun blog called The Great Taco Hunt that seeks to chronicle and rate the many, many taco huts, shacks, and trucks in the Los Angeles area. While I can’t even begin to approach that level of dedication, the ‘Hunt inspired me, while out here, to drive around a little, stray from my standard tried and tested taco path, and revel in the ridiculous number of taco spots that exist in this sprawling metropolis.

Tacos El Toro

I was actually on my way to another taco prospect when I saw this stand sitting almost (but not quite) inside an old, googie-ish car wash—I could not resist.

Mexico was playing Argentina in a World Cup elimination match, and, so, Tacos El Toro was packed with patrons staring up at a TV in the corner. Everyone in the place had big plates (yes, real plates) of food, but since they weren’t going anywhere for another 45 minutes plus extra time, I got my two tacos and a Mirinda to go.

I ate my carne asada and al pastor off the back of my rental car (I never understood the purpose of racing-style fish tails on the rears of midsize sedans, but now I know they are put there to rest your elbows on while you eat tacos off the trunk hood). The sun was bright and hot, but I didn’t mind—in fact, the bright heat seemed to enhance the Southern California-ness of the experience, and so, the flavor of the Tacos.

Living on the east coast, I just don’t eat enough tacos from enough places to effectively “rate” these tacos, so I’m not going to try. Instead, let me just say that I’m not sure these were the best tacos I’ve ever had, but they were good enough to make me think, “I don’t care.”

Super Tacos Michoacan

I finished my two tacos, snapped some photos, much to the amusement of some of the guys inside, and got back in the car. I was still a little hungry, but that was OK, I thought, I had errands to run and early dinner plans. I started back towards my part of the valley, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this runt of a building on a desolate stretch of Vineland, and I had to pull over. . . just had to.

I suppose, for science’s sake, I should have ordered another carne asada and another al pastor, but, instead, I decided to complete the classic meat trio (while still not ruining my appetite) and get just one carnitas taco. . . with everything (which just meant onions, cilantro, and salsa verde). . . and a Jarritos tamarindo, because, well, they had it.

It was about ten degrees warmer inside than the 90+ it was outside, so, in spite of the fact that Mexico and Argentina had just finished regulation tied, I got the taco to go, and returned to my very handy fish tail perch.

Now, I tend to like my carnitas with a little more piggy/salty flavor, but, again, given everything, it was hard to be too critical. Standing there in the bright sunshine, breeze provided by cars racing by, it was nice to just bite into a soft, warm, well-made taco, and let my mind drift from some of my problems, the miserable state of the nation, my recent sadness, and my pending oral surgery. Why get too worked up over a taco’s minor shortcomings. . . or anything, for that matter?

And it is happy, complacent moments like that one that make me very glad I don’t live in LA.


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