Echo Park Taco Run

The appeal of taco runs is that when it’s planned right, you have several stops within a very close distance to each other. What’s more, you have a variety of meats to choose from. It’d be more than just an average carne asada taco at every stop.

To my knowledge, Echo Park’s taco scene may not be as exciting as Highland Park’s, but Echo Park has its gems as well.

(This is an ongoing post)

Bellevue Ave. & Laveta Terrace

As of now, this taco stand is my favorite place to get tacos.  Usually, tacos from taco stands run at $1 a piece. Here, it’s $1.25.  But this isn’t your usual taco stand.  Though they charge a quarter more, the portions are far more generous than other stands.  They definitely give you more than your brick and mortar taquerias as well.  But aside from their portions, the tacos themselves are great.

I wouldn’t say I’m a lengua snob, but the lengua here is money.  So money.  Just watching the lengua boil makes me content.  It’s so tasty and so very tender.  My favorite lengua taco, served here, on Bellevue.  Aside from bomb lengua, they have buche which is nice and crispy, they have pretty good carne asada, some pretty good chorizo, and plenty of salsa to choose from.  My usual fix here is two lengua tacos, one buche taco, and one carne asada taco.

Wait, what’s that deep fried goodness on top of my tacos… The crispy tortilla.  Just ask for some and they’ll gladly give it to you.  Save the crispy tortilla for last to scoop up all that meat that will fall out of your tacos.  You just made yourself a tostada.  It’s great I tell ya.

They also have quesadillas here for $2.50.  The tortilla isn’t so big but they pack that sucker with so much meat and cheese.  Awesome deal.

They set up on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only at around 6pm-11pm.

Tacos Arizas on Sunset and Logan

Not too far away, you have Tacos Arizas. I’m assuming this truck, or trailer, is known for their carnitas as I’ve noticed that’s what many people order whenever I come.  So how is the carnitas here?  Tacos Arizas serves some mean carnitas.  Not as mean as Tacos La Estrella in Highland Park, but still some dang good carnitas.

But what’s my favorite taco here?  The tripas tacos.  I love me some good intestines.  Ever had some at a Korean barbecue joint?  Once I found out that intestine was a taco meat, I was game.  And Tacos Arizas is my favorite spot so far when it comes to tripas tacos.  Glorious.  So nice and crispy but not cooked so much that it’s all burned up.

Tacos Arizas seems to always be in this spot.

Salina’s Churros on Sunset and Echo Park

I’m not going to say these are the best churros I’ve had.  But hey, still good churros none-the-less.  Churros frecos?  Count me in.  8 for $3.  Oh fasho.  Ask for fresh ones, it’s worth the wait.  Finish off your Echo Park taco run with this dessert truck for one satisfying dinner.

This truck is usually here daily from 4pm-9pm.  There are times when they go over to El Sereno and park behind a Food 4 Less there.  So give them a call to see where they’re at (323-395-7925).

Taco Crawl on York Blvd.

This post is to pay homage to the folks over at York Blvd. and to Eat Drink & Be Merry. A couple of posts on “York Blvd.” and the taco post of taco posts by “Eat Drink & Be Merry” inspired me to go on a taco crawl of my own.  It took me some time to get familiar but once I had things down, I was confident about this particular crawl.  I put together what I could find from both of these blogs and what I came across was a glorious feast of tacos for about $10.

On a certain stretch of York Blvd. in the neighborhood of Highland Park, on a good day, you’ll have yourself about five taco stands and trucks to choose from.  Let the journey begin…

York Blvd. & Milwaukee

These folks used to be over on York Blvd and Ave 56 but they moved east quite a bit to where they currently set up.

There aren’t that many places that serve al pastor with pineapple but this is it.  The sweetness the pineapple goes really well with the al pastor.  And this combo goes great with their handmade tortillas.

The tripas here are not so bad and the chorizo here ain’t that bad either.  But at this particular stand, it’s all about the al pastor and pineapple on their handmade tortillas.  Dress it with onions and cilantro, squeeze some lime on it, and top it with the green salsa that kind of looks like guacamole, and you’ll have some happy taste buds.  Make sure you specifically ask for some pineapple.  And ask for the green onion as well.  It’s another great addition to the taco.  Tacos here are a dollar each.

York Blvd. & Ave. 57

It was my first time seeing this stand.  Tacos and Enchiladas.  They set up across the street from the stand with the al pastor and pineapple and the closest signal light is a block away.  You’ll need to do some crazy J-walking to get there.  Try doing that with a group of 11 people and you’ll get madness.

I didn’t try the enchiladas here though most of the people in my group did.  I didn’t want to fill up my stomach with enchiladas.  It was too early in the game to fill my stomach.  So I passed.  But it’s an interesting addition to the scene on York Blvd.

Birria de Chivo on York Blvd. & Nolden

This trailer is well known among those searching for some great birria.  Birria is goat meat for those who didn’t know.  It was getting dark so I couldn’t get a picture of the tacos.  Goat isn’t for everyone.  It leaves a heavy aftertaste, kind of like certain Mediterranean food.  If you like that, then I totally recommend it.  The chorizo here is pretty  dang awesome too.  Tacos here are a dollar each.

Pupusas on York Blvd. & Ave. 56

I have yet to get my hands dirty when it comes to Salvadorean food.  I’ve tried the pupusas here when they first began to set up towards the latter part of last year.  It was my first time trying pupusas and it seemed like the people here weren’t in business that long.  I didn’t really know what to order so somehow I ended up with a pupusa filled with beans.  I’m not big on beans.  Also, what I got was falling apart way too easily.  It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it as much as I did tacos.  So this time around, I decided to pass on the pupusas.  But I guess practice makes perfect.  The pupusas they were hammering out today looked quite good and literally intact.  They do take some time to make but I’m willing to give these pupusas another try the next time I’m here.  I believe the pupusas are a dollar each.

York Blvd. & Ave. 56

What I like here is the al pastor.  I feel like the al pastor itself is actually better than the taco stand with the al pastor and pineapple.  But the pineapple does a lot of great things.  Anyway, it’s not cooked on a spit here but that’s okay.  The chunks are bigger and the meat actually tastes better.  The carne asada tacos here are pretty good too.  I remember the first time I was here they had tripas.  They made some mean tripas.  But that was the only time I’ve seen them have tripas.  Tacos here are a dollar each.

Tacos La Estrella on York Blvd. & Ave. 54

It sucks that this is the only picture I’m going to give you.  But don’t worry.  On a brighter day and when I won’t be nearly as full as I was, I will give you some better pictures.  This post is a work in progress.

But fortunately, I’ve been here enough times to know what is good.  May I recommend to you the carnitas and the carne asada.  At one point, the tacos from Tacos La Estrella were my favorite.  The carnitas here is great.  The carne asada was pretty good, but I’ve had better.  However, when judging the taco as a whole package, I had to give the carne asada taco here a big nod of approval.  The tortilla was cooked perfectly where you had a bit of crisp to it.  And must I mention their salsa roja?  It wasn’t too spicy where all you feel is heat and it had enough of that smoky taste as well.  It’s perfect.  Oh yeah, and did I say the carnitas taco is great here too?  Al pastor isn’t that bad either.  Also, this is I believe one of four locations.  Tacos are $1.25 each.

El Pique on York Blvd. & Ave. 53

This truck is literally a stone’s throw away from the La Estrella truck.  And at this point of the taco crawl, I was too full to even eat anything.

I’m not too big on the tacos here, though the al pastor here is pretty good.  But what I really like here is the quesadilla.  This is the last stop on the York Blvd. taco crawl, or first if you’re coming from the opposite direction.  But assuming this is the last stop, if you’re not full at this point, though I don’t know how you wouldn’t be, a quesadilla will do the trick.  But really though, I think you should try their quesadilla outside the context of a taco crawl.  The quesadilla with carne asada here is pretty money.  They’re generous with the mozzarella cheese, but my favorite part… I really like how they grill the quesadilla so that the tortilla is nice and crisp.  And both the salsa roja and salsa verde go well with the quesadilla.

The course… It’s literally all on one street.  Before the taco stand with al pastor and pineapple moved, it was a good course to walk all the way through.  Now, you may need a little driving to do.  So after your tacos with al pastor and pineapple, drive to the birria truck.  After some birria, I suppose you could walk but the next stand is a couple of blocks away, driving isn’t a bad idea.  Once you’re on Ave 56, walking to La Estrella isn’t that bad.  But should you decide to walk the whole thing, prepare for a long walk back.

Trucks are parked throughout the day and until late night.  Stands begin to set up around 6PM and should close at around 10PM, and they’re usually there every day but on occasion, they may not set up.

For the crawl itself, bring a lot of one dollar bills.  Giving them a $20 bill is a disservice to them and if you could prepare that ahead of time, that’d be great, and you wouldn’t need to worry about them not having change.  Also, come in comfortable shoes to walk in and bring some outerwear just in case it gets cold.  Most importantly, be prepared to EAT!

This post is a work in progress.  When I can, I’m going to update with more pictures and actually have pictures of the food I’m talking about.  Stay tuned.

Mariscos 4 Vientos

After seeing pictures of the Shrimp Tacos on LA Taco, I knew Mariscos 4 Vientos would soon have to be crossed off my I-seriously-need-to-go-there list. I headed east on Olympic Blvd. and learned that the street suddenly ends in the Fashion District in Downtown and mysteriously starts elsewhere.  I started looking for the truck in unfamiliar territory.  Then I ended up on an intersection where I thought the truck was supposed to be at.  Great.  But I had to use the bathroom.  So I continued back on Olympic to find a supermarket or something.  Well, several blocks down, I found the brick and mortar location of Mariscos 4 Vientos with a bathroom.  Nice.  And then I had the Shrimp Taco experience at Mariscos 4 Vientos.  That was a few weeks ago.

I’ve gone a couple of times since.  I’ve never had anything quite like these tacos before and they’re great.  You have a generous amount of shrimp with some sort of mixture that’s in tortillas and then deep fried.  It’s covered in their salsa and a generous amount of avocado.  The salsa has a refreshing taste to it, kinda different from the salsas at other taquerias where they have more of an earthly taste.

But don’t stop with the Shrimp Tacos here.  Go on and try the other things that they offer.  The Tostada with Ceviche and Shrimp is pretty good too.  There’s a nice citrus flavor and may I add that they are very generous with the amount of shrimp they pile on.  And on every table there is a bag of tostadas which, I suppose, you can take as much as you please.  The Coctel de Camaron is also great.  Again, Mariscos 4 Vientos is generous with the shrimp.  The cocktail sauce has a nice sweetness to it.  The Coctel would be awesome on a hot summer day to cool you down.

This brings me to wonder… I wonder how some dining establishments are able to offer great food with generous portions at generous prices whereas other places offer great food but with not-so-generous portions at not-so generous prices.  Eh, I guess I do have some idea why: Cost of doing business, property value, supply and demand, the cost of living, etc. etc.  Well, can’t have everything your way, right?

Something that’s pretty neat is the roving bands that play here.  Live music!  With maybe a little price attached.

Mariscos 4 Vientos
3332 E. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Phone: 323.269.3605

Via-Mar

As a Westsider, Lobster Burritos are probably something I expect in my neck of the woods.  And they would probably command at least double what I paid for at Via-Mar.  Would it be as good?  I can’t say.  But take the word of this gringo here if it means anything to you, the Lobster Burrito at Via-Mar is pretty darn money!

I felt I needed a Lobster Burrito so I drove on over to Highland Park.  Via-Mar is on Figueroa in between Ave. 51 and Ave. 52.  Street parking in the area should be abundant.  I’ve hit a good streak of Mexican seafood places.  I’ve only tried two though, hahaha.  The other being Mariscos 4 Vientos in Boyle Heights.

I ordered the Lobster Burrito, a Shrimp Taco, and an Horchata to wash all the goodness down.  Let me start with the burrito.  Pretty sizeable chunks of lobster have a light batter on them and is fried to a perfect crisp.  The fried lobster is just tasty itself.  It’s wrapped in a warm tortilla with rice, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, crema, and some hot sauce.  The crema adds a slight sweetness as well as richness to the taste of the overall burrito but it is nicely balanced with hot sauce that adds a slight lingering kick.  This stuff is legit.  This stuff is good.

The Shrimp Taco was good as well, but I was full enough from the burrito.  After a few bites into the taco, I started picking off the shrimp. It was sitting as I was eating my burrito and I was surprised the shrimp wasn’t that soggy.  Oh, the shrimp is also fried like the lobster.  But at $2.75 for this taco, I feel it’s a better deal to get this in burrito form.  The same probably goes for the lobster burrito which is at $6.  The other time I was here, I got the Lobster Burrito and the Shrimp Taco Dorado-style (hard-shell/deep-fried).  I felt the Dorado Shrimp Tacos were a lot better at Mariscos 4 Vientos and it’s a bit cheaper at $1.50.

That being the case, come here for Lobster Burritos.  I think it’s a pretty good deal for what they put out.  And I’m not taking anything away from the fact that it’s pretty good regardless of price.

Via-Mar
5111 N Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Phone: 323.255.4929

Via-Mar Seafood on Urbanspoon

My Taco

As a transfer applicant, I applied to only one school.  That school being USC.  USC was where I wanted to go and that was it.  I wanted to be a Trojan for two primary reasons.  The first was that I wanted access to the alumni network; I wanted in on the Trojan Family.  The second reason was that I liked its location.  That raises brows considering that USC isn’t in the best of locations.  That doesn’t matter so much to me because I don’t live around there.  I like how USC is just so close to everything. After experiencing Trojan Football, I guess you can throw in football as a third reason. That probably tells you something about my priorities.

I liked that it’s so close to Downtown, Koreatown, not too far from Hancock Park, Los Feliz, Miracle Mile, the Fairfax District, and it’s not too far from home.  By the way, I live much closer to UCLA, and I’m not a big fan of the Westside.  Today, I went to Highland Park to go to My Taco.  I’m not familiar with the area and didn’t realize until I was driving back to USC that my uncle lives in that area, Mt. Washington.  And it’s so damn close to school, only about a 15 minute drive.  That’s only 15 minutes away from taco-capital.  Freaking awesome.

My Taco is a taqueria minus the taqueria feel.  It’s clean.  There’s an attempt at decor, it’s quite colorful in there.  They have a nice LCD TV in there.  It just doesn’t feel like a taqueria.  But the taqueria prices are still there.  I ordered the Tacos Dorados with potatoes… Man, I love hard shell tacos.

The entry on York Blvd. about the potato tacos describe them well.  It truly is “a blank palette for a good salsa.”  My Taco has a nice little salsa bar that’s clean and definitely fresh.  And man, the carrots there are great too.  I wasn’t so big on their guacamole salsa, but it definitely was thick.  The guacamole that came with my potato tacos on the other hand was to my liking.

Though the tacos dorados were deep fried, it wasn’t as heavy as I expected hard shell tacos to be.  It wasn’t drenched in oil like the hard shell tacos at Campos.  And I liked it like that.

While driving through Highland Park to get back to USC, I was being exposed to a part of Los Angeles that I’ve never really touched other than vague memories of going to my uncle’s house in Mt. Washington.  This is what I love about Los Angeles.  There is just so much to the city; the diversity, the different experiences, and the different vibes you get with the different neighborhoods you go to.  There’s so much to experience here.  Los Angeles doesn’t get old; only if you let it.

My Taco
6300 York Blvd Ste 4
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Phone: 323.256.2698

My Taco on Urbanspoon

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