Your Vampiro Fix: Mexicali Tacos & Co.

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Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 11:14 AM

click to enlarge A chorizo cachetada at Mexicali - JACK POOLE
  • Jack Poole
  • A chorizo cachetada at Mexicali

The recent theft and indefinite closure of the Boyle Heights stand Tacos Guanajuato is an unqualified tragedy. While we wish owner Ulises Gutierrez and everyone involved the best of luck and hope to be announcing their triumphant return at some point in the near future, the vampiro show must go on. Filling that gaping, cheese-less hole in your heart is downtown's Mexicali Taco & Co. (follow them on Twitter @MEXICALItacoCO).

This downtown taco stand serves up several interesting and rare options, but we know all you really want to hear about are the vampiros. At Mexicali Taco & Co., the vampiros are garlicky, cheesy, quesadilla-like creations filled with your choice of asada, pollo, or chorizo. In this case, it seems that the name, lately the subject of much debate, stems from the vampire-fighting power of such a garlicky beast. This interpretation of the vampiro is quite different from the version at Tacos Guanajuato, but fear not, for there is more to Mexicali.

click to enlarge A garlicky, cheesy vampiro - JACK POOLE
  • Jack Poole
  • A garlicky, cheesy vampiro

The cachetadas are a rarely seen (perhaps unique?) menu item, which happens to be a specialty of the Mexicali men. A corn tortilla is grilled until crispy, then covered in cheese and your choice of lovingly charred meats. It is then topped with a chipotle aioli and handed over for the customer to dress with an assortment of salsas and/or onions and lime. These possess the beautiful juxtaposition of textures, flavors, and temperatures that we know and love from the vampiros of Tacos Guanajuato, and are the most likely option for satisfying your craving.

This, though, is not to say that the rest of the menu should be ignored. The Superman is a triple-meat miracle and the tacos are no slouch either. The salsas are varied and delicious, and the gentlemen who run the stand are as cheerful as they are skillful. We hear rumors that their location at First and Beaudry is only temporary, but here's hoping it's permanent. Losing a second chance at one of Jonathan Gold's Top 10 Dishes of 2010 and "a construct of all that is good" (according to Street Gourmet LA) would be too much to bear.

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