Here's the general rule about food that's bad for you: The rattier the place looks, the better the food. If the proprietors haven't made it a practice to paint, or to relettering their signs, and yet they have a lot of business, you know the food is really good. Such a place is Taco Pete. Some might also be unfamiliar with the neightborhood: the corner of 120th Street and Central Avenue, on the edge of Watts. Its employees are protected by security glass and metal bars to discourage robbers and thwart drive-by shooters, making the place look more like a check-cashing outfit. But since we once owned and lived in a duplex within walking distance of Taco Pete, we consider it old stomping grounds. At one time, we even wrongly judged Taco Pete by its appearance — a scary look that provokes an initial reaction like “why would I want to eat there?” Then we actually ate their tacos and saw the error of our ways. Hardshell or soft, beef, pork, chicken, turkey (that's right) or fish, these are yummy, juicy and incredibly cheap. Sure you can get many of the usual items you'd see at the corner hamburger stand, but you come here for the tacos ($1.89 each). 12007 S. Central Ave., L.A. (323) 569-5164.

—Juliette Akinyi Ochieng

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