One of L.A.'s most visceral food pleasures involves driving a few miles southeast of USC, where two of the city's best taco vendors — Tacos los Poblanos Estilo Tijuana at Avalon and Slauson, and the colloquially named Tire Shop Taqueria on Avalon just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — set up shop nightly a mere mile and a half apart. Both offer Tijuana-style tacos made with superlative carne asada — proper carne asada, taco aficionados will insist — which is unfurled on a charcoal grill in long meaty sheets, then hacked into manageable nubs on a large wooden chopping block. Both vendors pat out tortillas by hand and cook them to order on a large griddle, and both load their tacos with a scoop of thick, buttery guacamole, a sprinkle of chopped onions and a dab of smoky salsa. Wrapped tightly in squares of wax paper, they resemble meaty ice cream cones more than they do tacos. Tire Shop Taqueria and Tacos los Poblanos Estilo Tijuana are so similar you might think they are branches of the same operation. Do we have to pick just one? Let's call it a draw.
Credit: Anne Fishbein