Happy National Taco Day + 5 Very Fine Tacos
Anne FishbeinArturo's puffy tacos
Is it National Taco Day today? We regret to inform you, it is. There are e-cards for it and everything. At Del Taco, National Taco Day is probably as holy as the Feast of the Epiphany, but with more tacos. At Taco Bell - expect funny hats and line dancing. Is this the most eventful event in our in-box? No. Just seconds ago we were informed, by a source who probably makes three times our salary, that 'Wienerschnitzel Introduces New Tastee-Freez Chocolate Nutter Butter Shake.'' That one is probably worthy of a bank holiday right there.
Anyway, in honor of the occasion - National Taco Day, that is, not the Nutter Butter Shake - here are five fine tacos... none of them, we assure you, associated with Taco Bell.
1. Puffy Taco. What is a puffy taco? It's like a taco, only puffier - the spiritual descendant of sopapillas, perhaps: pillowy-soft rounds of fried dough, crisp and golden at the edges, stuffed with picadillo. San Antonio is famous for these puffy tacos, but they may have actually been created in Southern California. And at Arturo's Puffy Taco, owned for decades by the son of the dish's creator, the puffy tacos are grand. Arturo's Puffy Tacos: 5693 Leffingwell Road, Whittier, (562) 947-2250.
2. Taco al pastor. We recently, at an illegal taco table not to be named, had a taco made of marinated pork carved off a trompo, spit, on which the meat was layered in basically a gyrolike fashion. It wasn't until we bit into the taco that we realized the pork was raw beyond its microscopic coating of char. Sometimes we like the health department. But then again, some bootleg tacos are better, way better than others, and if you were to seek out the sizzling, delicious taco al pastor from Leo's, an intermittent vendor that usually hangs out in a gas station at Venice and La Brea, you probably won't be disappointed.
3. Fish taco. Is the fish taco at Mariscos Bahia Ensenada the kind of thing, as we have said, that could inspire an instant religious conversion? Perhaps so. Freshly fried fish, shredded cabbage, that miraculous white sauce that seems to be equal parts crema and mayonnaise? And the roasted guero chiles? Amazing. The stand has been on the Weekly's 99 Essential Restaurants list as long as there has been one. But you may as well check out Ricky's Fish Tacos too, a stand that sets up in front of 1400 N. Virgil in Silver Lake. Find out when Ricky plans to open next @rickysfishtacos.
4. Taco de surtida. Pig skin, tongue, kidney, liver heart and stomach? Well yes. But pig skin, tongue, kidney, liver heart and stomach simmered in lard. Metro Balderas: 5305 N. Figueroa Blvd., Highland Park, (323) 478-8383.
5. Taco de whatever. The legendary Nina's Foods is mostly known for its quesadillas, huaraches and other fine Mexico City-style specialties - tacos are very good, but kind of an afterthought. And although it won the Vendy Awards going away, it's kind of hard to find, when its out at all. Still, the salsa de semillas, made from toasted seeds, is pretty amazing, a sauce that will haunt your dreams. And if you follow Nina @BreedStScene, maybe you'll get lucky. There is often a very good specialist in tacos de canasta, room-temperature basket tacos, nearby too.
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