tacos

Tacos El Gordo – A Good Reason to Drive 4 Hours

by Franklin on November 6, 2014

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, we went pretty dang hard on some legit tacos. Tacos El Gordo is my new spot for tacos is Las Vegas. Sitauted right next to the Encore and Wynn resorts, the TG stands more on the north side of Vegas. The best part about TG is that they offer all of the meats, and they are all good. None really fall short of the other, and if anything, the carne asada is the worst one. That is saying much! Our first stop once we touched down to Vegas was Tacos El Gordo. The weekend was officially awesome.

The signature red trays are iconic. They first opened their doors in San Diego, and now they are here in Las Vegas. Life is good.

This is the tripas taco. The tripas (small intestine) had a nice crunch to them, just how I like it. Very tasty and delicious.

The lengua is another favorite of mine in a taco. The meat is beefy and very tender. So tender that it is too tender, but actually it’s not. (What kind of writing is this??) The meat just melts in your mouth, and is a perfect taco addition.

The al pastor was tasty as well. The sauce that they put was delicious and flavorful. The al pastor sits on a spit and is cut to order. The flavors are perfect and the meat is just perfect.

Tacos El Gordo is a good reason to stop by Vegas. Yeah, you can drive 2 hours or so to San Diego, but add another 2 hour drive, you get the deliciousness of Tacos El Gordo and the fun of Vegas. The ordering system is a bit crazy. There are different lines for different meats, and they have a lot of lines, and a lot of people, and a lot of different kinds of meats. All in all though, it is worth the wait and chaos.

Tacos el Gordo on Urbanspoon

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Tacomiendo – Lengua Everything

by Franklin on September 12, 2014

I visited Tacomiendo because I wanted tacos, plain and simple. The small taco shop had fresh tortillas, a must for legit tacos. I came here on a whim and was quite happy with my find.

The tacos were delicious. The fresh made tortillas made all the difference. The lengua was tender, but just average. If you are a lengua fan, this isn’t necessarily a need to visit place. The sauce bar made it easy to spice up my tacos the way I wanted to — lots of onions and cilantro.

I also tried the lengua quesadilla. We saw them making some on the griddle, and it looked so good. The clean taste of the lengua and the melted cheese was such a great combo. It did need a little bit of hot sauce because of the lack of flavor. The sour cream and guacamole with the quesadilla was great. It was so gooey and cheesy — delicious.

Tacomiendo was just a pit stop. Their tacos weren’t have bad, and the fresh made tortillas might have me coming back for more. Not that the lengua was bad, but I’ll make sure to try some of their other meats.urb Tacomiendo can hang with the rest.

Tacomiendo on Urbanspoon

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Walking into Sancho’s Tacos, I was enveloped by their Mexican style and interior design. From the unique art on the walls and the various paintings, you can’t help but feel the culture of the beach and Mexico. We ordered our food, went to the beach and had ourselves a little beach front picnic. The views were good and the food was tasty. This was definitely different from the LA tacos and burritos I am used to.

The Breakfast burrito, also known as the sawed off burrito, had eggs, skillet potatoes, and melted cheddar jack cheese. Bacon and chorizo eggs were in the mix as well. The burrito was tasty. The chorizo helped flavor the while burrito nicely. The skillet potatoes was a nice starch to round out the burrito. Of course, melted cheese is always welcome, and there was plenty.

The taco for me was a miss. The OG taco which has tri tip, onions, cilantro tri tip and chubbie sauce. The tri tip was good as a steak, but not as taco meat. Not to say that it was too high quality or anything dumb like that. It just tasted too clean and flavorless. The tortilla was stale and brittle. This chubbie sauce that everyone talks about was alright, but a proper hot sauce is always a necessity on tacos. Writing this just makes we want to go to my taco guy and devouring a couple proper tacos.

When it comes to Mexican food, I am very particular and quite harsh. Maybe I just don’t have the OC tongue, but I trust my taste buds. The textures and flavors just didn’t do it for me. The burrito was alright, but the taco, their namesake, was just not where it needed to be. It’s possible I just went on a bad day or I was just unlucky. I will definitely give this another try when I am in Huntington Beach. Hopefully, I won’t need to bring my taco guy to HB.

Sancho's Tacos on Urbanspoon

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El Taurino – LA’s Favorite Taco

by Franklin on April 20, 2014

El Taurino, King Taco’s father, if you will is an LA hot spot — figuratively and literally. Not to say that El Taurinio is my favorite taco spot, but it holds a very special place in every Angelino’s heart. I try to think back and think when I had my first taco. God help me if my first taco was from Taco Bell. Unfortunately probable, I can blame my parents for that. I still remember having my first cinnamon twists from the late Taco Bell on Vermont and 4th location (one of many casualties from the LA Riots). Honestly though, I try to think of my first legit taco in life, and I can’t think of any other place it would come from, other than King Taco.


If not for the hot sauce (roja and verde), El Taurino and family would be quite basic. The carne asada and lengua is quite nice — salty enough to be good on its own with a nice chewy texture. The tortilla is nice as well along with the onions and cilantro. All this blank slate needs is either the red or the green. In my younger years, I would use almost a whole cup per taco. Today, I can barely handle it, and I find myself leaning towards the much milder green sauce. Both are equally delicious, and none is better than the other.


I’ve grown to like their tamales as well. I think it was a while ago when they had the dozen tamales for 12 bucks (something like that). That would last me for days, but I always remember eating these. The masa is always moist and the inside filling is fresh and tasty. Of course, these too taste amazing with the red and green sauce.


El Taurino is a popular drunchies spot. Open late, KTOWNers and Angelinos alike join together to enjoy some tacos. As a matter of fact, tacos in general seem to be good while a little tipsy. Whether its your local taco truck or tacos on the corner, the almighty taco is king. El Taurino though, for me and for many Angelinos, is the In-n-Out of tacos. It’s not necessarily the best tacos in the world, but in a way it is.

El Taurino on Urbanspoon

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Guisados – Tortillas Make and Break it

by Franklin on October 7, 2013

There comes a time when your regular taco from the corner won’t do it. Just some regular asada with hot sauce and chopped onion and cilantro, all on a heated tortilla? Actually, that sounds pretty all right — but Guisados does something different. All of their ingredients are simmered and

With hortchata and jamaica in hand, we found a seat. As I patiently wait for our tacos, I notice the horchata isn’t just made from some boxed up syrup. It tasted like horchata, not sugary milk water. The very cinnamony, and quite refreshing taste of rice and nuts really shined through in this drink. The jamaica was good too, with a nice sweet and slightly tart taste. They were perfect as I await for my tacos.

Guisados are coveted as some of the best tacos in Los Angeles. I even received threatening emails saying Guisados is better than King Taco, saying “How can you say King Taco is the best? Have you even tried Guisados?” Thinking it was kind of weird, I didn’t really jump the gun on Guisados. It was more of a “I will go when I go” kind of thing. Honestly, the tacos were overrated. Not to say, the ingredients were the lesser or tasted worse. The ingredients were actually pretty good. It was the tortilla that killed it. Touted as having freshly made tortillas, I felt it hurt the operation. The sampler tacos were basically discs of under-cooked masa. Was this a tortilla, or a non-fried sope? The tortilla was quite thick, and folding it to eat the taco was impossible; it would break in half. I mean, just looking at the picture, you can see how thick this thing was. This was a disaster.

As far as the flavors, it was all great. The steak picado, bisteak en salsa roja, tinga (Tinga is made with shredded chicken and onions simmered in a thick chipotle sauce), mole poblano, cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork). All were great on their own. Only if the tortilla was on point, everything would have been superb.

The small hole in the wall, now a franchise has a good thing going, if done right. A little extra care in the tortilla making process would go a long way. My review was a bit harsh, but it was the truth. Fix the tortillas, and we got something special now.

Guisados on Urbanspoon

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LA Street Tacos – Nameless

by Franklin on April 10, 2012

On my way home from work, I sometimes see a Mexican taco stand on the sidewalk. This is not a truck mind you, it is straight up set up on the sidewalk. They even had lights for when it became dark. This is totally illegal as they do not hold any permits or licenses — no health and safety inspection, nothing. I see them grilling and selling tacos and what not all the time. This one particular day, I took the bait and I finally stopped for a bite. Let me tell you, this was not a mistake.

I looked around and saw what they had. They had a flat top grill station, charcoal grill, table full of condiments, and even home made horchata. I asked the guy for 2 carne asada tacos and 2 chorizo tacos. The cook grilled up my meats on an open grill, then finished them off on the flat top. I then laid on the sauce along with onions and cilantro — all which were prepared at their home or somewhere else. I ordered a horchata to make it an even 5 bucks. Home made everything tacos and a drink for 5 bucks is amazing.

These tacos were delicious beyond words. The bite of the meat and the onions and cilantro was perfect. Even the hot sauces were good. I liked the smoky flavor that the meat had from the grill. Usually the chorizo I buy at the market is like a paste, but theirs was sausage like. These guys really knew what they were doing.

I was so proud of my find, that I came back the same night with my cousin and brother. My brother got a humongous burrito, and my cousin and I got some more tacos. I liked that they put the rice and meat in the burrito, gave it to my brother to add whatever he wanted — they wrapped the burrito afterwards for us. At this point, I was full, and happy that I had a chance to try this food.

There was one thing that caught my eye. As I gave the guy my money for the food, he was thankful for the business he was getting. He took the money, looked up to the sky, and thanked God for it. Then and there, it really allowed me to appreciate everything I had. To me, it was a measly 5 bucks, but to him, it was a blessing. This really opened my eyes. Food wasn’t just something “delicious” anymore — it was more than that.

Every time I pass that spot and look, they aren’t there anymore. Maybe they were given a citation or warning from law enforcement. I don’t know what happened to them, but I always hope that they are there. Either way, I still hold on to the memory of those tacos. I think it’s the place where these tacos come from that make it so delicious. It’s not from some business driven chain or money hungry restaurant owner. These tacos are homemade, brought to the streets, from hard working individuals. They know the true value of the dollar and their passion for food is evident.

I guess I’m not too distressed from their disappearance. I know Los Angeles will lead me to another street tacos once again.

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Malo – Bad Is Not So Good If It’s Bad

by Franklin on January 2, 2012

Located in the hipster town of Silver Lake, Malo serves up Mexican food with a little twist. Though the traditional tacos and chips are in order, they are known for their beef and pickle crunchy tacos and chewy chips. The location was perfect for our Christmas dinner party. The lower half was the bar and seating area — the upper was the private rooms and extra seating area. The atmosphere was fun and intimate.

The ground beef and pickle was what I wanted to try. On paper, it was interesting, but after eating it, it basically was just a burger inside a hard taco shell. Maybe the hype too large for its own good. It was just average for me. I also had a bacon and shrimp taco as well. This was a nice balance of fatty bacon and seafoody shrimp. I am just not a fan of crunchy tacos. The sauce did save the taste a bit.

There was a lot of hype about the chewy tortilla chips, and I can see why. Those things were dangerously addicting. The texture of the chewy tortilla chips was all just new and interesting. For those who think they are going to be like stale tortilla chips, you are wrong. You just have to try it for yourself. What made these chips better was the sauces they had. My favorite was the mole. It was rich and complex in flavor. Though, they had 4 different kinds, and they were all good.

I also ordered the Cast Iron Fried Chile Relleno. This was a battered and fried poblano chile with jack cheese inside. It was then smothered in ranchero sauce. The batter on the outside tasted kind of funny. Maybe bad oil? The poblano and the cheese inside was nice. The chile was sweet and the cheese was smooth. I was sad to see a lack of queso fundito on the menu.

To be honest, I did not enjoy the food too much. I wouldn’t come here for a specific dish. Despite that, I would come here again for the atmosphere. It is a great place for large groups. the location and setup was perfect. Next on the agenda, Mas Malo, their second restaurant in Downtown LA.

Malo on Urbanspoon

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Gosh Cha Cha Chili.  Why did you do this to me?  You got me so excited, and now I am caught in the middle.  I ordered my food, but you made me wait 30 minutes for 2 tacos and a burrito.  At first you excited me because I got the last of the short rib. Score!  But why didn’t it taste like anything?  Why did I feel I should have gotten the far superior spicy bbq pork tacos?  I hate you, and I like you.  But for the most part, I like you.  Just don’t make me wait over 30 minutes for my food.  Thanks.

This place is located in the weirdest neighborhood ever.  Situated in between Lincoln Heights and the low lands behind Cal State LA, the location is awkward, but I guess it works. This Asian Mexican fusion makes Korean style tacos and burritos, as well as bowls.  As a fan of the Kogi Truck, I had to give it a try.  As You may already know, I clear like the food truck better.

The tacos were flavorful and huge.  They don’t use the tiny 2 inch tacos, but the ones they sell at the market. It was packed with flavorful pork, and the salad they put on top worked really well in the tacos.

The short rib burrito, which I assume caused the 30 minute wait, was a turn off for me.  The beef was chewy and tasteless.  The rice inside was mushy, and added to the blandness. Even the flour tortilla turned stale and hard, not warm and chewy.  The burrito, simply put, was not good.

Would I be stupid to come back?  No.  I wouldn’t mind getting a few Korean tacos.  I would be scared for the wait, so I would call ahead. Definitely, when the Kogi Truck is nowhere in sight, at least I know that this brick and mortar will stay put.

Cha Cha Chili on Urbanspoon

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Los Angeles has some good Mexican food, maybe the best in the world.  Though that may be a stretch, I know we are pretty close. One of my favorite snacking spots for some tacos is Cactus in Los Angeles.

The meat here is like no other.  It is almost over cooked to a crispiness, but it is so delicious.  It is not too salty, and not really bland either.  My favorite is their carne asada or their lengua.  Lengua, being cow tongue, seems weird, but it is some of the best part of the cow. For anyone reading who hasn’t tried lengua before, please try it.  You will never go back to carne asada ever again.

I don’t want to say it, but the tacos are even better than the King.

Cactus Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

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King Taco (East LA)

by Franklin on April 5, 2011

I realized that none of my posts were on Mexican food.  It is way over due!  As for my first post on Mexican food, I give that honor to King TacoIt is my go to spot for good and cheap tacos and burritos.  It’s close to where I live, and it is in the same family as the popular restaurant in Los Angeles, El Taurino.  King Taco started in 1974 from a truck.  The first original King Taco Restaurant all started near Cypress Park in Los Angeles, and the rest of the 20 locations followed.  Though I dine at the East LA location often, this post is in respect to all King Taco Restaurants.

Everyone who knows about King Taco knows that it gets really busy.  Lines can sometimes stretch so long that it deters people from eating there. Sometimes they even fire-up the taco truck on location to supply the demand.

My go items on the menu?  The tacos of course!  If I feel extra loose around my waistline, I will treat myself to a burrito.  The burrito I am talking about is their pura carna asada burrito.  It just has meat, onions, and cilantro — It is meaty and delicious.  They also have good sopes and nachos.  The nachos come with chips, nacho cheese sauce, and carne asada — simple but good.

I think what makes King Taco so good is their sauce (pictured above).  Green or red, they are both very good.  Be warned, the red sauce is really spicy, and that’s coming from a guy who loves spicy food.  I like the red sauce on my burritos and tacos and the green on the sopes.  The green sauce kind of has a lime citrus flavor that brings out the flavor the the sope’s thick corn tortilla.  Whatever you put it on, it is good on everything.  They seriously need to bottle this stuff.  The sauce can literally make any mediocre taco taste half way decent.

If you want Mexican food, just go here.  It is consistently good, and the taste of King Taco is like no other.  I can determine the taste of King Taco from other tacos. No, I take that back.  I can tell if the hot sauce is from King Taco or if it’s from elsewhere, because the truth is, nobody else can make that hot sauce.  It is the best hot sauce, hands down. I really want some tacos now.  For now, I guess I will just have to stare at the pictures.  Drool.

King Taco on Urbanspoon

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Kogi BBQ – Gourmet Food Truck Pioneer

by Franklin on March 29, 2011

Food trucks are a dime a dozen these days. Los Angeles has the most food trucks and the most unique ones. It all started with the Kogi Truck. Chef Roy Choi along with other founders started this food truck. Their over 80,000 loyal twitter followers track their every move (@kogibbq). Currently, they operate 4 trucks (Azul, Verde, Naranja, Roja) — these trucks go all over Los Angeles and Orange County. They even have a kitchen at Alibi Room in Culver City.  It is obvious that they are the reasons behind the food truck boom in Los Angeles.

Their menu is unique in that they mix traditional Korean meats and dishes with Mexican ingredients.  They have short rib tacos and burritos, kimchi quesadillas, and other specialty eats.  I had the pleasure of eating at this truck many times, and they never disappoint.

The tacos and burritos come with choice of meat. The meat is so tasty from the marinate, that your mouth waters from every chew.  Then they put an Asian slaw on top that compliments the meat very well.  The slaw is a bit sour from the vinegar, and has some heat to it — they also add a sauce on top that brings the whole dish together.  One bite, and all those ingredients meld into one big complex array of flavors in your mouth.

For one of their specialty orders, the Blackjack Quesadilla has choice of marinated meat and cheese inside a flour tortilla.  Then they add a zesty sauce over.  At first, you may think that eating Korean food with cheese might be a bit weird  — try this and you will think differently.

At the end of the day, it’s just Korean meats on top of corn/flour tortilla.  That may be true, but the way chef Roy prepares his meats and ingredients is one of a kind.  One has to be a genius to think of food this way.  As a Korean American, and a lover of Mexican food, eating Kogi truck is definitely Delish.

Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

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