Wednesday, December 9, 2009

El Chato Taco Truck ~ Los Angeles, CA

This past summer to fall I've been back and forth between LA and Visalia. The summers in LA are no doubt some of the best times any red-blooded American can experience, with great weather, beaches, mountains and an event list that spills outta LA Weekly. But this year I had a longing to be back in Visalia, closer to family and friends, and mountains and rivers that I've grown to love. Seriously, there's not much better than kickin it at the river on a hot summer day throwin back cans of beer with friends. Only problem, LA has tacos...Visalia has tacos, but not like LA. It's different, the variety and quantity of tacos in LA is vast, almost immeasurable. Visalia, yeah, I can count how many places on my hand that are "worthy" of scoping out for a first time. Point is, when in LA, I ALWAYS check out new spots. This last time was El Chato Taco Truck, a drunken favorite of many bar and club goers on their way home from a night of partying.


They don't have a salsa bar. Their menu is limited: tacos, burritos and quesadillas only. The meats consist of asada, pastor, cabeza, lengua, buche, pollo and chorizo. I don't know how big their burritos are, but I can say their tacos are super small, like the smallest taco imaginable, about 3 1/2 inch diameter, so $1 for a taco isn't all that amazing.

*5 tacos :) 2 pastor, 2 asada, 1 cabeza

WITH THAT SAID, this place is definitely among some of the best tacos I've tasted in here in LA, and I've been to plenty of spots. The quality was amazing because of their execution and obvious experience in serving up quality food.


Finely chopped and well seasoned. Great execution. Meat was super tender in your mouth because of the thin cut of meat that was finely chopped.

*Al Pastor

My favorite of the three meats I had, the pastor was juicy, tender and had a nice char from the heat while turning on the spit. Oh yeah, here's the key, this place has REAL pastor served on a spit...with a piece of pineapple on top. I've come to notice that most places don't serve real pastor on a spit, only pastor that's basically a marinated pork. The only way, I believe, pastor can be done is cooked on a rotating spit...and this place does that.


I'm not a huge cabeza fan, (I've only had it 3x in my life) but I ordered it anyways to see if these guys can really blow me away. The flavor was right on, but I'm just not a fan of the gooey soft texture. But this place did have the best cabeza I've had outta the 3x I've had it.

The tortillas are dipped in the cooking oil and heated up on the grill, which made the taco a bit greasy, maybe best kept for those long drunken nights...or for horrible morning hangovers. The salsa was satisfactory, nice heat that didn't destroy your mouth to any of the other great flavors that come with your food.

Like I said, these tacos are SMALL, so I ordered three more pastor :) But this time around they really doused em' with their salsa, which killed it for me. I think the best way to go here is get the tacos with the salsa roja on the side.

4 outta 5 for these bad boys.

Tacos ~ $1.00

El Chato Taco Truck ~ On the corner of La Brea Ave and Olympic Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90019

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mi Casita ~ Visalia, CA

Even though I've neglected this blog, I still eat tacos. I'm still fat and I'm still unemployed. Not much has changed. I still love tacos, but a new love I picked up this summer is backpacking the beautiful Sierra Range. Ahhh, now if only I can incorporate the know, spend about five days in the backcountry, somehow bring some asada or pastor and grill it over an open fire. Yeah, that shit will never happen...but till then...


Conveniently located in the "North Side" of Visalia, this little shack is among a handful of taco stands along Houston Ave. that I've actually been to prior to this most recent meeting. I'm not going to lie, going to the northside for food might not sound so appetizing, but the area is highly concentrated with Mexicans, so you know what that means....there's gonna be some good food.

*I like the laker fan...but a Farmar jersey??? Come on.

*outside seating, 3 full tables, but the flys are crazy annoying
*that sign says, "we have sopes" :)

Since they didn't have pastor and carnitas, I ordered a cabeza and adobada taco with my asada taco. I've had the adobada over at Tacomiendo in Culver City, which was amazing, so I was excited to see how this Visalia stand would stack up to a CC great.


You know, I'm sad to say that Mi Casita gave me some poor adobada. The meat was soo dry, like border line crispy. It was like it was sitting in an oven on super low but was there for an hour. That type of dry. The pork was proper adobada, but what the fuck casita? Are you proud to give me this quality? You obviously don't give a shit, or else you'd be ashamed to serve this. Whatevers....they wanted my dollar and a quarter...they got it. Fuckers.


I'm not a huge cabeza fan. This was my first time to try it, maybe not the best place to try an uncommon meat for the first time. I think it's the texture that gets me a bit uneasy. It's gelatinous, with little bits of meat, kinda gooey texture. The flavor, though, was really good. I definitely need to try this meat more often. OH, cabeza is basically cow cheek...but sometimes they just throw the whole cow head in a pot and stew the puppy, then serve you whatever meat is there. Not the most appetizing sounding, but it did taste relatively good compared to the crap adobada.


No surprise, the asada was the star. I don't expect any different here in visalia seems this is an asada only type of town. Can't hate though, asada is bomb, it's just I'd really like to see a place with some good pastor done properly on a spit. Mmmm....

Anyways, the asada is very reminiscent of Super Taco's in Woodlake. Thin sliced carne that's grilled then finely chopped, creating super tender and juicy asada. One of my favorite types of tacos.

There is a stocked salsa bar, but in the Visalia heat, it was kinda hard to even think about putting any salsa. Maybe next time. And there will be a next time.

Asada - 3 1/2 stars
Cabeza - 2 1/2 stars
Adobada - 1 star

Overall ~ 2 1/2 stars

Tacos ~ 1.25

Mi Casita ~ Corner of Houston Ave & Church St. Visalia, CA 93277

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

La Carreta Taco Truck ~ Puyallup, WA

I ate 8 tacos total. Yeah, they were fuckin good.

I was in the market for food, driving down Meridian Ave, leaving Mt. Rainier, and noticed a 49 cent tacos sign, and about flipped my car cutting across the street. People who know me, know I'm a fuckin taco guy who talks about tacos and dreams about where I'm going to eat my next one.

For you Washington people (if you have a chance at reading this) let me tell you...I'm from the central valley of California and I currently reside in LA, so I have taco cred, not to brag, but I know my shit. This place here is legit. You're lucky to have such quality in the most random spot in Washington.

I ordered 1 pollo, 1 asada, 2 "spicy pork" (which is pastor, just goes to show how they have to americanize the names for this area). Everything was right on. With each taco I ate, the more surprised I was at how good they were, especially after being somewhat disappointed from Flair Taco in Fremont. I was thinking there was no hope for this state, but La Carreta provided, and has thus redeemed you Washington.

After devouring those first four, I order 4 more, this time 2 carnitas and 2 more pastor. ( I was surprised they actually called it carnitas...and not "pulled pork" haha..) The lady working the truck was very nice, and could tell i was happy, which made her happy.

About the flavors, I think what really stuck out was their carnitas. I've been hard pressed to find a carnitas that's been worthy of its own paragraph in my reviews, but this here took it. Usually, the blandest of the mexican meats, it held up perfectly, slow cooked and roasted to my sense of perfection, juicy and toasty, not dryed out. (I hate dry carnitas) The pork acted as the perfect canvas to hold the salsa, onions and was a great taco.

The pastor, surprisingly, I enjoyed. I usually don't like saucy pastor. But this one proved to me that there is hope on the other side. The saucyness came mainly from the grease on the grill mingling with the marinade, and I loved it. Loved it so much I ordered 4 altogether :)

Bravo La Carreta. You just put Washington on the taco truck map of goodness.

Tacos ~ pollo and pastor 49 cents / asada and carnitas $1.25

La Carreta Taco Truck ~ 12413 Meridian Ave E Puyallup, WA 98375

Monday, August 31, 2009

Flair Taco ~ Fremont, WA

I'm backed up on this blog about six taco joints deep. Living this life unemployed, I've had ample time to do things at a slower pace, so I apologize for the lack of new taco goodness that is usually found here on this webpage.

Anyways, I spent about 10 days in the Seattle area, shlepping around because I've become good at it, and literally stumbled upon two taco trucks, separated about 100 miles apart. Both times I found these trucks I was hungry and already looking for food, so to find a taco truck, in Washington of all places, was definitely a blessing.

Unsure of where to begin, I'm going to start with the first truck, Flair Taco in Fremont, a neighborhood north of Seattle, across the river.


First thing I noticed as I walked up to the truck was news paper clippings taped to the front raving about this place. I'm not really into braggarts, so I wanted to let the tacos speak for themselves. I was coming in a skeptic...even though I was excited and really hoping that this truck was at least remotely like the tacos I'm used to in LA.

I don't even pay attention to menus anymore, being a taco lover and reporter, I've hardly the need to deviate from my calling. But I do recall seeing something totally unique, a meal called the "Passport Special," where the only way you can order this meal is if you have a valid passport. Fuckin loco mayne! I was curious about this and asked taquero. He proceeded to explain to me like some fuckin rookie to mexican food, something he described as a "taco with cheese and guac, kinda like a quesadilla."

Come on man, I was like, "Dude, that's a mulita!"

"Yeah! Exactly! I didn't think you'd know!"

"Pffft, I live in LA homes. East Los...what's up?!"

Of course, I don't live in East Los Angeles, but whatever..I was hoping he'd cook my food with special care.

Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but what I got was something reminiscent of what I'm accustomed to: two warm, small taco truck tortillas, onions, cilantro and a salsa roja that was spicy and that good mexican grub way. But a huge factor to a good taco is the filling.

I ordered one asada and one pastor, and all I can say is this truck did not blow me away. No "mind blowing experience," or "tacophoric splendor." The asada was alright, but I have an odd feeling that it was recooked, not that I care about such things, but if you're going to recook, at least heat my meat up proper style...serve it hot! As for the pastor, it was the saucey type, you know, the type when if you don't cook it long enough, the marinade will not fully dry onto the pork. Sometime it works out...this time it didn't.

I will add though, that this place did quell my taco fix. My only problem is it didn't leave me with a sense of "wow" like the newspaper clippings implied. Eh, for Fremont, WA, a neighbordhood in northern Seattle, I guess I could have done a lot worse.

Tacos ~ 1.25
Passport Meal ~ 9.50

Flair Taco ~ 315 N. 36th St. Seattle, WA 98127

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yadi's Taco Truck ~ Culver City

Where the fuck have I been? About two months has passed since I've touched a keyboard with smelly salsa fingers, and I just couldn't take it any longer. Between Peru, Backpacking, and being in Visalia (ugh) I haven't been able to do what I have come to love over the past year: eating tacos and writing about them.

"But Jason, there wasn't any mexican food in Peru?"

Are you fucking kidding me? That place might as well be in the Orient, because their idea of a tortilla chip is what we call here in the states, "won ton." One good thing came out of that though, now I know won tons and guacamole taste good together!

"Visalia? Come on, there's some good mexican food there!"

Hmmm, you're right. There is good mexican food there. But most places are restaraunts, and sometimes I don't feel like having to get served...what's up with the lack of taquerias? Another thing, the places that are grubby downs are in the Northside, nuff said.

So, I'm back, LA. Your old friend is here...and ready to eat some mother fucking tacos!


You can tell alot about a business' food by the type of customers it attracts. And this taco truck, thank God, had ALL MEXICANS at it. And I'm not talking like, two or three people, I'm talking two or three FAMILIES, all chillin, eating outta their trucks; one family even had some chairs out by their cars! There were kids whizzing past me while I was waiting in line, adults behind me laughing and truly was a beautiful site. All on a Monday night. And not a gringo in sight, except yours truly :)

How awesome does that look? Anyways, I order two pastor and two asada tacos. Seriously folks, at this point, I was about to explode. I took about four to five pictures before my mouth was so full of saliva I had to put the camera away and start grubbin' it.

OK, I really just want to talk about how awesome this night was for me, but at some point I have to tell you how the tacos tasted, what the truck served, all that nonsense you would get from a proper review of a place. But you know what? Believe me when I say this...This truck is good. And not because I haven't had a proper taco from a truck in lord knows how long, but because everything came together in a way that seemed almost predestined. Read my writing, look at my pictures. Trust me...

Besides the obvious, this truck had a couple things that stuck out to me. First, the tortillas came to me hot, so hot they were a bit stiff. But if that's how they wanna do God, I'm going to let them. There was no lack of flavor, and not a problem when it came to getting it in my mouth. Second, they served the tacos with grilled green onions. That's just special to me.

Yet, if I were to gripe about this place...I'd say the tacos were on the small side. But this isn't anything I'm not used to...and don't expect.

I'm so glad to be back. Only for a week, but damnit, I'm going to fit as much tacos in this week as I can!

Tacos ~ $1.25

Yadi's Taco Truck ~ On the corner of Venice Blvd & front of the Chevron.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

El Abajeno ~ Culver City

I hate being a noob.  Especially when it comes to experiencing new restaurants I'm not familiar with.  There's awkwardness, ignorance and plain out tomfoolery when it comes to simple things such as standing in the right line to ordering your meal correctly.  I'm sure some of you, or at least the two of you who are reading this, can attest.  You just gotta swallow your pride and jump into the unknown, and hope you come out the other side a better person, or in my most recent case, walk out with a full stomach and a wallet that's not empty.  


This family owned and operated mexican joint has been pushing out authenticity since 1969.  I'd like to say they are one of three really close, really great mexican joints, literally a stones throw apart.  Two doors down from Abajeno is Taqueria Sanchez, across the street is Tacomiendo.  With El Abajeno, my latest conquest, I finally put all pieces together to form the "Triforce of Culver City Mexican joints".  Yeah, I said it.  And you heard it here first.  

What I ordered is not what I received, but I'll leave that for the end of this review.  I ended up with three huge pollo taquitos, a carne asada taco and a stack of chips.  

I was amazed to find that they only had 3 choices of meat for tacos:  asada, lengua and chicharron.  Amazed because this place is a mexican counter/deli with a HUGE menu. 

Anyways, my taco had its ups and downs.  The carne itself had a really good grilled/charred flavor with the meat being chewy yet very tender and juicy.  The downside was the tortillas were starchy, like store bought... I ended up taking off the second and used only the one.  The tipping point was my expectation of the tortillas to lose heat quick, from experience, but they kept heat long enough for my last bite to be nice and hot, lending this taco a thumbs up.  

Through many Yelp recommendations, I opted for some taquitos.  To my chagrin, what I get is this.   

I'm fuckin gringo apparently, because I was expecting rolled, crunchy taquitos, not this soft lookin open tamale thing.  

When I took my first bite, I was blown away.  The tortilla was the quite the opposite of my taco.  It was two very soft, almost melt in your mouth, homemade soft corn tortillas.  The pollo was properly stewed with long hours of heat that came apart with the softest of pull, the avacado added another layer of flavor and texture and topped with mexican cheese, oh man!  These flavors married so well, it was like taking a bite outta butter.  Melty, chewy, fall apart deliciousness that it's no wonder so many people on Yelp put up reviews soley on this one item.  

I'm definitely a fan of this place, despite my first time performance.  Here's the story, I walk in and notice a huge menu.  I couldn't even tell if they had tacos, the menu was so big.  I ask chica if I can get a carnitas taco, she says no, but they have taquitos and it comes in pollo and carnitas.  So I order three carnitas taquitos, expecting the crunchy rolled, but what I get is three HUGE pollo taquitos.  And my total cost of my meal, 3 taquitos 1 carne taco and 1 medium drink?  $14.60.  Right when the cashier said that number, I literally almost doubled over.  hahah, yeah, I'm broke and I haven't had a meal cost that much since I ate dinner with my parents,  and they paid.

For the carne asada taco.

For the taquitos.

Tacos ~ 1.99  Taquitos ~ 2.95 for carnitas; 3.15 for pollo/asada/lengua.

El Abajeno ~ 4515 Inglewood Blvd. Culver City, CA  90230

Friday, May 8, 2009

Taco Plus ~ Santa Monica

I found out about this westside favorite from a taco informant over at  I read the reviews, checked the menu and was a bit wary about the quality of taco.  First off, the front sign says, "Taco Plus.... Fresh All The Time."  Uh oh, is this another westside, "fresh-mex" taco joint?  I've encountered a couple and more often than not, left less than happy.  Second, tacos cost $2.35.  That just makes me shake my head.  Will this trip be worth it?

I took my chances anyways...

Taco Plus

First off, parking here can be a BITCH.  But of course it is, you're in the Westside during lunch time.  Note for you taco hunters, if at first you can't find parking in the centre, park across the street at the Smart and Final lot, behind Santa Monica Blvd.  

But if you're blessed by God like get hooked up like this during gnar lunch time periods...

*Jeep always in the crucial.

The inside is very small, only 3 or 4 tables that seat 4 and a back bar area with 4 stools.  I could tell this place was for the locals who have time on their hands, or people who work in the area who get their meals to go.  

Remember the "Fresh All The Time," logo out front?  Well, let me tell you, right when I walked in I noticed a glass container with food sitting in heat pans.  I didn't really mind seeing rice and beans, etc... in there, but what did bug me was seeing cut up asada, pastor and carnitas sitting in this heat box.  Fresh all the time, huh??

While ordering, I noticed a big grill right behind chica with pollo, asada, fish and various other goodness being grilled fresh.  Now that's the business!!  I was just hoping they weren't gonna give me the bumbaclat sitting in the heat box.  

My fears were realized once I saw poncho getting my tacos ready.  Whats worse, before homeboy even got there, I saw a coworker of his pouring water all over the meats!  What is this shit?  Are you really pouring water all over the meat in hopes of slowing down the drying process.  

"Fuck," is all I can say.  I have a feeling my meat is gonna be really dry.  Fuck it.  I'm gonna it eat.

Before I begin, I want to address something that did impress me about this place.  Their salsa bar was definitely a "plus."  They have everything you could need, two rojas, a mild verde, cilantro, pico de gallo, radishes, limes and even green onions.  Check out my set up...good looking aint it?

Anyways, the tacos are very big.  Much bigger than your normal taqueria...hence, the $2.35 charge.  The really load it with plenty of the meat.  But one downside, is the tortillas were not very good.  They tasted like store bought Guerrero brand that I'm not a fan of.  Their super starchy and do not keep heat very well.  My first bite, I expected some warmth, but no, none at all.  It was like eating straight up room temperture tortillas...terrible.


First thing I notice is the flavor.  It was undeniably pastor, but I'm not a fan of their marinade.  Very unremarkable, with the "heat pan" pastor being dry.  I did appreciate the crispy edges, but not at the cost of dry meat.  Also, the salsa they put on top tasted like nothing.  It was like having water that didn't help the already crappy tortilla.  By the end, the inner tortilla was soggy and on the point of breaking.  


Hmmm, I'm kinda on the fence with this one.  While the meat was dry and lacked any sort of mexican flavor, it was very lean and grilled properly with a nice stand alone beefy flavor.  Like the pastor, it had charred crispy edges that tasted great, just the meat was soo dry, and once again, the crap salsa they put on top didn't help.  A good thing was I was able to take it off and put on their "very hot" salsa, which wasn't really that hot, and I'm no fire eater.  

It would be a stretch calling this place "authentic."  Shoot, it's probably authentic to the masses here on the Westside who are transplants from the Midwest, where their idea of a "Mexican Restaurant" would be Cabo Cantina.  It would be better to describe this place as a "watered down" version of Mexican food.  The sad part is, it's a literal description as well.  Really Taco Plus?  Did you really just pour water all over the meats in that case?  And "fresh all the time," my ass.  

Tacos ~ $2.39

Taco Plus ~ 1525 S. Bundy Dr.  Santa Monica, CA  90025  (310) 207.0793

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