I live in Eagle Rock. Right at the top of Figueroa near Colorado. I love it out here. I especially love all the E-Z opportunities for taco tasting.
I decided to take a walk on Monday and check out two of the places that have made the top 8 in the LA TACO MADNESS 2011 contest; La Estrella and El Huarache Azteca.
La Estrella is a Los Angeles taco institution and has 3 trucks and 2 permanent taco shops. I tried their place in a strip mall in E. Pasadena area and I thought it was really mediocre. I heard it was a husband and wife team that split up but I'm not sure how their spots are now divided or who makes the better tacos. Our Taco Talk producer Lloyd swears by the permanent truck on York so off I went.
a different, mobile Estrella truck
I had a pastor and an asada. Both were fine. I liked the asada a bit better. Neither would I stand in line or go out of my way for. The way they have the truck up on blocks, up higher than street level on the sidewalk really makes ordering uncomfortable. It's like sitting in the front row of at a Imax movie theater. It made me dizzy and I felt like I was ordering from a mile away and having to shout over the traffic. Ok. Sure. I'm only 5ft tall, but it still bugged.
I walked a bit further down the street and went to the El Pique truck. The word 'pique' in Spanish means grudge or rivalry. Veeeeeery interesting. I didn't try their tacos but went instead for the veggie burrito which I thought was TERRIFIC. They were very nice, had a big group of teenagers hanging around and were actually friendlier than the gal at La Estrella. I also thought their truck signage art was awesome whereas the Estrella sign had totally peeled away and you could barely read it to see what they have and what it costs.
I walked literally another short block and found myself at El Huarache Azteca, one of the places Jonathan Gold says you MUST eat at before you die. The thing to get is the Huarache, a sandal-shaped masa platform loaded with either meat, mushrooms or corn fungus, your choice. It is indeed the same sandal mispronounced by the Beach Boys in 'Surfin' USA'. Of course I had to opt for the tacos. I ordered pastor and suadero but they were out of suadero and didn't say anything, they just gave me 2 pastors instead for $1 each. No prob. They were great. The place is super funky and authentic inside. Definitely felt like I was in Mexico and I was the only 'white girl' in there. Go, get cozy and get your fungus on!
On the way back to my car I noticed another place, Antojitos Guerrero. It was cool looking and they seemed super nice. I ordered a fish taco in Side' o Rice's honor as he couldn't be there to taste with me and I liked it. They have a TON of mariscos and breakfasts and other fun stuff. Not really a 'to go' place. Took a very long time for the food but if I had been chillin' in the hood with a friend I wouldn't have cared.