The next time you walk down Vermont Avenue near the Los Feliz Cinema, it will be impossible to miss the larger-than-life calavera recently lapped onto the brick façade that frames the theater. Large, dopey eyes look out from the mural, while her stitched mouth says nothing. Joshua Pourgol and Oliver Mateen will open their second location of Tacos Tu Madre in the coming weeks, and a local street artist has announced the coming restaurant with the electric vibrancy of an expertly made pico de gallo. The simple restaurant sign is dead; in the age of social media, business owners must announce their presence with a backdrop for the perfect selfie.
Pourgol and Mateen’s first taqueria opened late last year on Westwood Boulevard with a similar splash of color. The artist, who refers to himself simply as Chase, says he spent about four days on each of the murals and used a mix of exterior latex and spray cans to create the attention-grabbing work. The artist’s palette is echoed on the griddle-warmed tortillas used inside. Cooked until they firm up a touch — something between crunchy and soft — the tortillas arrive accented with bright red jalapeño slices, a green cilantro leaf or pickled onions in a buzzing magenta.
At the Westwood location, customers place their orders at a minuscule window facing the sidewalk and are quickly presented tacos that are as sating to an Instagram feed as they are to grumbling stomachs. The Los Feliz location promises more of the same. Pourgol and Matteen are wrapping up a total renovation of the shuttered El Greco Café, and a large, open kitchen boasts windows that face out toward the street. Soon, a team of taqueros will tempt moviegoers as they wait in line to purchase tickets.
Tacos start at $2 and climb all the way to $4.75. Duck mole is available, as is raw tuna mixed with avocado and dressed in yuzu ponzu. You can order beef bulgogi on a tortilla, panko-crusted cod and katsu chicken, too. But for every fusion taco, there is another rooted in tradition. Lengua, chorizo with egg and carne asada are satisfying options that are topped as prettily as their more progressive counterparts.
If your cellphone remains in your pocket when you first stumble on Tacos Tu Madre's exterior, it will almost certainly emerge when your tacos arrive. Take a quick snap, post and eat, then repeat. By the time you finish, #tacostumadre will likely be trending.
Tacos Tu Madre,824 N. Vermont Ave.; facebook.com/tacostumadre.