At first glance, the taco truck posted up nightly in the car wash at Sunset and Alvarado in Echo Park looks like a poser. The garish orange paint, the flame decals, the flat-screen TVs, and the chrome wheels make El Flamin Taco seem a little like a taquero trying to ride the wave of 'nouveau' food trucks. Its showy appearance, as well as its proximity to local favorite Taco Zone, caused us to regularly skip trying it for months. But after several consecutive bad experiences at Taco Zone, including the cardinal sin of cold meat, we decided it was time to take our (not insubstantial) business a few blocks southwest.

As we got close, the stickers on the truck gave us pause not for their content (4/20 friendly, aids walk, breast cancer awareness, and the rainbow flag all have our full endorsement), but because they pushed the idea of this as a gringo-centric truck even further. As soon as we saw the stand-alone trompo manned and waiting for us — though this may make us sound like amateurs — our fears melted away and we were drawn in like cartoon characters to fresh-baked windowsill pie. And after ordering our tacos, we were not disappointed.

The pastor is carved in front of your eyes and adorned with grilled pineapple that has been resting on top of the meat. It is spectacular, with a great flavor and most (if not exactly all) of the detailed requirements laid out in Street Gourmet LA's awesome post on the subject. On that first visit, the al pastor was so delicious that it made the salsa bar totally superfluous.

On subsequent trips the al pastor has held up to its own lofty standard, but exploring the salsas has also proved fruitful, even if not strictly necessary. There are the usual red and green salsas, pico de gallo, onion and cilantro, and limes, as well as the creamy green avocado salsa and a pickled pink something, which turns out to be rather spicy. You can get grilled cactus with your tacos and, for the icing on the cake, you can watch the tortillas being handmade right there in the truck.

Should you experience a craving for something other than a taco, the truck also offers a wide variety of other menu items, including serviceable tortas and better-than-serviceable huaraches, gringas, and mulitas. As usual, the choice of meat is up to you, and if you're crazy enough to stray from the pastor they also have an above average selection of meats, such as suadero, buche, tripa, and milanesa in addition to the usual suspects. In this case, we couldn't be happier to discover how deceptive looks can be.

El Flamin Taco: Parked nightly in the car wash at the Southeast corner of Sunset and Alvarado, and open very late.

LA Weekly