Dear Mr. Gold:
As a mother of two kids young enough to still like noodles but old enough to make fun of Justin Bieber, I find myself in search of a kid-friendly taco truck. Good old-school tacos: no fusion, no Kogi lines. Anywhere from Venice to Pasadena, but nothing past about 7 p.m., as homework and bedtime are issues. If not for them, for me.
--Murie Rose, L.A.
Dear Ms. Rose:
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The complexion of the taco-truck debate has, as you know, changed greatly over the last year or two, and the old suggestions -- go to the La Oaxaqueña truck on Lincoln just south of Rose, say, or the El Matador truck a bit north of La Descarga on Western, or the El Pique truck on York in Highland Park -- are still valid but seem a little played out in a world where trucks specialize in D.F. quesadillas or Colima seafood or Poblano cemitas. (Plus, most of them tend to be pretty nocturnal.)
Sometimes it is easier to visit the endless line of new-wave trucks on Pennsylvania near Cloverfield in Santa Monica, where you can grab a lamb frankie, a cupcake or any of 14 variations on the Kogi theme. Sometimes you want to visit a taco table, like Kike's on Beaudry downtown, or the Guanajuato-style table that sells the vampiros in front of the Lady of Talpa school around the corner from the intersection of Evergreen and Fourth in East L.A.
But at a Roots of Change benefit the other day, a farmer/chef love-fest in Neal Fraser's sleekly remodeled St. Vibiana space, I ran into an attorney who, among other things, represents the local loncheros association in its dealings with the county. And I was surprised to learn that the truck most highly regarded by its peers, the lonchero respected for its style, cooking and longevity, was neither one of the high-tech units prowling Koreatown nor a hyperauthentic truck selling the antojitos of a single prefecture in Nuevo Leon but Arturo's, also known as El Gallito, also known to generations of Pasadenans as the Yellow Truck, which has been slinging its tacos of slightly charred carne asada, tongue, buche and cabeza from the parking lot of a tire store for as long as anyone can remember. Is it a reliable stop at 3 a.m.? It is indeed. But it reliably opens at 6 p.m. Don't forget to grab a roasted jalapeño from the condiment line.
Arturo's: Fair Oaks Avenue at Bellevue Drive, Pasadena.