Well... I knew I wasn't going to love this place. I love their story and their history, but the food is a taco of a different color.
Thus far, I have not mentioned my Gourmetdar. I forget exactly which friend coined the phrase, but I have a knack for picking out the gem spot without any prior knowledge. I seem to be drawn to the little foodie locations, only to read about them later, after they have been officially discovered. The most recent example of this was Guisados in Boyle Heights.
I've driven by Yuca's a million times and my Gourmetdar was so quiet I didn't even notice it. I forced myself to go today because I am twiddling my taco thumbs with my week off from Taco Talk. People RAVE about this place,.It makes every 'Best Of' list, every tour guide book, every everything. Why?!?!?!
Here's the cute part... A husband and wife from Mexico took some insurance money and opened a taco shack in the 1970's. Eventually the LA Times 'discovered' them and they became so successful, they put their daughter through Brown University and won the James Beard Award for being an American Classic (serving Mexican food!) in 2005.
They have been slinging their particular brand of 'hash' for over 30 years. That is indeed impressive. And I'm also guessing the food style was rarer and more impressive back in the 70's, when Taco Bell was KING.
Also impressive are the prices. DIRT cheap. $3 for a burrito, $2.25 for a plain hamburger, $2 for tacos. I LOVE the way they write your order and your name on either the paper plate or the paper bag (if you get the food to go.) However, if you DO get the food to go, you will not be getting any salsa with your meal.
RIDICULOUS. These tacos are not good enough to survive without salsa. Just a mediocre slightly tired tasting pico de gallo. Bleck.
Let's talk about the name for a minute. I guess the family is from the Yucatan. Yhey don't serve yuca, which is more Cuban perhaps. Maybe they never conceived the English permutations that would cause people to exclaim 'Yuck-a' after trying some of their menu items. Okay... that was mean... let's try to focus on the positive.
The best thing was the Hamburger. Sort of like if White Castle and In-n-Out had a baby. The White Castle vibe came from the fried smell and the onions. The size was about on par with In-n-Out. A friend of mine goes on a regular basis and he says his daughter LOVES the burger. She won't touch a taco though. Always listen to kids when it comes to cheap food!
The carne asada was tough and chewy... very little flavor, just so uninteresting. It wasn't for lack of grease, because when I tried to wash off the meat 30 min. later to give some to my dog, my hands were thoroughly lubed with pasty whiteness. Yeah. Gross.
The Pibil taco was better, but it still had chunky flavorless pico de gallo on it... just NOT want you want on that kind of taco. The tortillas were fine... Whatev.
The bean and cheese burrito was solid. But alas, aghast, I believe they use Kraft American Cheese slices. I am not kidding!
A gentlemen I know, who goes by the name of Rock Candy, is addicted to the stuff. He would be ecstatic. But for the rest of us, who think that shite taste like rubber, no go. But the beans! The beans were yummy. Why the burrito was put together like a flat package and not rolled I can not divine. It made it very hard to eat, but I loved the flavor of the beans.A lot.
The whole place is really running with its 'shack & dive' image. The canopy is fraying, they have big Xmas ornaments hanging up already and because they looked a little sad, I assumed that maybe they were never taken down from last year. Or from the 70's even!
Alas, this food would be perfect after midnight, seriously drunk, but they are only open until 6pm....