Thursday, January 12, 2017

Taco Thursday

I hesitate to call this a "top" 5 list, as I obviously did not have time to try every taco stand, cart and establishment in the massive L.A. area during our recent month-long stay there (in part because some of the joints listed below got repeat visits).

Let's just consider it five great places all across the City of Angels metro area to eat the all-time classic that is the taco.

#5 - Great Mex
(703 E Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach)

This place has a huuuuge menu, including breakfast items, tortas and chimichangas. I'm sure it's all good, but truth be told we only ate tacos there. Great Mex has about 15 tasty types on offer from a few different tortilla choices. They also have four locations, but we only tested the one right near Newport Beach. It's a cozy place with great service and a very generous self-serve toppings bar, which I always love. Make sure to drop by on Tuesdays, when all the tacos are only $1.25.

#4 - Kogi Truck
(location depends on the day)

Before arriving, the lady and I made it a mission to eat at all three of Roy Choi's spots (Chego and LocoL truck are also excellent, by the way). This was the most hotly anticipated one of the three, and it was so worth the anticipation. The calamari taco was particularly good, especially considering how difficult an item it is to prepare correctly, and the short rib with kimchi is just downright explosive. Kogi has four trucks, with each parking in three different places during an average day (check the schedule here).

#3 - Telegraph & S. Arizona 
(East L.A.)

That is not the name, that is the actual location. Yup, it's a street taco stand and undoubtedly one of the very best. They have six types of tacos at the unbeatable price of $1 each, plus onions grilled with whole jalapenos, pico de gallo, red and green salsa and a liquid guacamole sauce available for dressing. The eminently flavorful chorizo and carnitas tacos were easily our favorites. This stand was near the Kinjaz Dojo studio, so I hit it 5-6 times after classes, filling my belly with just a few bucks. That is hard to top.

And yet...

#2 - Venice Fish Tacos and Smoothies
(1701 Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach)

We are total nutballs for fish tacos, and this odd little shack very well might have the best in all of Los Angeles. They are just $2 a pop (!!!), while shrimp tacos are also a steal at $2.75. Both are great, but the fish variety are the stars of the show here. They are impeccably cooked, dutifully dressed (witness the photo at the top of the page) with tomatoes, crispy cabbage, sour cream and spicy salsa rojo. And I swear we could have eaten 50 of them. Everyday. Forever. Simply put, they are the perfect beach food and a perfect fit for this overly quirky stretch of sand and skateboards and such. Just don't forget the squeeze of lime!

#1 - Guisados
(541 S Spring Street, Downtown)

This spot now has five locations (having just opened one in Burbank), but we only visited the one. It... was... AWESOME. Their tacos are all the products of slow braises, leaving all the proteins falling apart and delightfully juicy. Guisados has an incredible 16 different taco choices on the menu, with each having its own unique flavor and level of heat. The tinga de pollo, mole poblabno and chorizo quesadilla our favorites among the ones we tried. While this joint is not quite as affordable as the last two places, it has an additional ace up its sleeve: namely, the agua frescas. Without a shadow of a doubt, their cantaloupe edition is the best one I've ever tasted, light years ahead of all other agua frescas. No lie, it's freakin' amazing, and the perfect sip to go with their top shelf tacos. 

Crap... and now I'm hungry. And 5,697 miles away from Guisados. Blërg.

- Greg Seltzer


Unknown said...

The Great Mex has potato and chorizo tacos. Those are the best.

Jon said...

Greg, can I ask what your full time job in Russia is? Curious what you do over there as I'd love to move to a similar place!

Greg Seltzer said...

I do not have a job in Russia. Writing is my full-time job.

Greg Seltzer said...

I should add the cost of living is incredibly cheap in Russia when you are paid in dollars. :)

Jon said...

That's an awesome setup Greg! Thanks for answering.

Unknown said...

PITTSBURGH -- Where you at?