The only way to order a taco (or five) from Tacos Tu Madre on Westwood Boulevard is through a minuscule walk-up window located in an area of West L.A. better known for Persian fare than Mexican street food.
The tiny shack, from owners Joshua Pourgol (who also runs Groundworks Coffee) and Oliver Mateen, is hard to miss thanks to the riot of color on the building’s facade — there’s an arresting, larger-than-life calavera splashed across the front, and colorful contrasting stripes of pink and green vying for your attention.
At Tacos Tu Madre the menu is equal parts tradition and fusion. You can either take your goods to-go (as many do) or dine in the attached 16-seat space, which more closely resembles a closed-in porch than a proper dining room. It’s as colorful inside, with black-and-white geometric floor tiles, more stripes and a wall of succulents distracting the eye.
The diminutive tacos — they can be downed in a couple of bites — come quick from a kitchen that makes a food truck’s prep space look downright roomy. From the “Getting Fancy” side of the menu ($3.50 each), an ahi tuna tostada delivers bright, fresh bites thanks to a spicy citrus yuzu ponzu sauce, and a satisfying Korean barbecue taco comes filled with bulgogi, kimchi and a smattering of pickled red peppers and cabbage.
There’s also a list of “El Baesics” ($2.50 each), which includes al pastor, lamb birria or a link of grilled chorizo atop a fried egg; these dishes still get a bit of the fusion treatment. A crispy fish taco, for instance, is boosted by a citrus-spiked crema, pico de gallo and pickled onions, and a carnitas taco comes topped with a healthy sprinkling of queso fresco, plus an avocado-coconut cream sauce and a red pepper aioli.
In true L.A. fashion, the tacos can be made sans tortilla in a bowl with rice or chopped kale for the health-conscious. There’s also some sides like a bowl of spicy, off-the-cob Mexican corn ($4) or crispy rolled tacos filled with truffled mashed potatoes. Their breakfast burritos, served all day, might offer the best bang for your buck; there’s one with chorizo, tater tots, scrambled eggs, guac and cheese, or a cultural mishmash of a burrito that wraps pastrami, bacon, Oaxacan cheese, guac and a fried egg stuffed into a flour tortilla. It might not be a bad idea to wash it down with one of their horchata slushies.
The most revealing indication of where Tacos Tu Madre’s sensibilities lie might be with its red velvet churros, which comes as four short, bright-red sticks piped full of cream cheese frosting. It’s a confluence of flavors and cultures that's concerned only with what's delicious, and that has curb appeal anywhere.
Tacos Tu Madre, 1945½ Westwood Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 654-0664, facebook.com/tacostumadre