Great Baja Cuisine on Its Way to Tacolandia

La Guerrerense dishing up at Tacolandia 2013
La Guerrerense dishing up at Tacolandia 2013
Nanette Gonzales

If you haven't yet cleared your dance card for the afternoon of Saturday, June 28, you might want to do so now. Because that Saturday is the occasion of the second annual Tacolandia, the ode to tacos and Mexican street food that began in the Palladium parking lot last summer. This year, over 40 vendors will be gathered in downtown L.A., at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, to eat tacos and drink tequila and, well, generally celebrate life.

Among the many wonderful chefs on hand will be those from three places over the border in particular. This is some phenomenal cuisine that you might not get much chance to eat otherwise. If you've had the great pleasure of heading south to Ensenada to stand in the sun next to a certain seafood tostada cart, you'll know what we're talking about. If you haven't, you have treats in store for you. Either way, come downtown in a few weeks. It's a lot closer.

Tacos Kokopelli at last year's Tacolandia
Tacos Kokopelli at last year's Tacolandia
courtesy: Guillermo Moreno

3. Tacos Kokopelli
Chef Guillermo Campos Moreno, better known as Oso, is a product of Tijuana's Culinary Art School and has staged at three-star Michelin restaurant Oud Sluis in the Netherlands. Not a bad route to take on the way to a taqueria, which Moreno opened in Tijuana with his brother Pablo Campos and Orlando "Cricket" Miguel del Monte. If you were at last year's Tacolandia, you might remember the huge grill of smoking octopus. You may also remember Moreno from Petty Cash, where he was part of the opening team.This year Tacos Kokopelli will be bringing back their famous Kraken taco, with mesquite-grilled octopus, for which we are all very grateful.

Javier Plascencia
Javier Plascencia
Photo by Annie Drury

2. Finca Altozano by Javier Plascencia
Javier Plascencia is to Tijuana kind of what Grant Achatz is to the Midwest: part brilliant innovator, part regional savior. Plascencia's cuisine is astonishing, and his Tijuana restaurant Misión 19 is alone worth repeated trips across the border. This year, the chef is sending up the folks from his Finca Altozano restaurant, from Mexico's wine country. The food will be campestre, or country-style cuisine. Tacos, not tacos: We can't wait to eat whatever Plascencia decides to put on our plates. 

Sabina Bandera and Mariana Oviedo, Tacolandia 2013
Sabina Bandera and Mariana Oviedo, Tacolandia 2013
Nanette Gonzales

1. La Guerrerense
Sabina Bandera González has been running her glorious seafood tostata stand in Ensenada for longer than most of you have even been eating tostatas, specifically about forty years. This year, she and her daughter Mariana Oviedo will be back, serving those glorious crispy disks topped with bacalao or sea snails or Pismo clams or slices of octopus, then spritzed with lemon and hot sauce and liberally covered with spoonfuls of González's homemade salsas. If you missed her last year, or haven't heard Anthony Bourdain on the subject of her food ("Many say it's the best street cart in the world,") then it's reason enough to come downtown.

Tacolandia: Saturday June 28, 3pm - 7 p.m. at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, 125 Paseo De La Plz, Los Angeles. You must be over 21 and show a valid ID to enter. Tickets are still available, and are from $25 to $40.

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El Pueblo de Los Angeles

125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2932


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