With 140 taqueros I was officially overwhelmed at LA Weekly’s Tacolandia event last weekend. Luckily, there was a lady handing out shot glasses and I always have something to put in one. This was the fourth year of the event curated by food writer Bill Esparza, with the most vendors ever. While it does require some strategy, Tacolandia is dope for bringing together chefs from Mexico, Los Angeles, and other areas of Southern California to celebrate our favorite food group, tacos. I wanted to prioritize the chefs visiting from across the border, but seeing how with traffic it takes me almost as long to get to Boyle Heights, I just went for as many as possible. Here were my five favorites.
Fried Shrimp Taco from Mariscos Jaliscos
This taco is filled with a mix of shrimp and potatoes, fried and topped with tomato salsa, cabbage, and avocado. It’s crispy, soft, tangy and comforting. Despite its fame, I hadn’t tried this truck yet because it’s such a mission from the westside of L.A. Now that I know what I’m missing I’ll be spending an hour in traffic for a meal I’ll eat in less than a minute. Find them in Boyle Heights.
Carnitas from Galaxy Tacos
I tried a number of carnitas tacos (still, it was likely only a small percentage of what was there) and Galaxy had the most flavor, layers of texture, and well, the most meat, seeing how it was the end of the day and they were loading up the blue corn tacos. Find them in La Jolla.
Al Pastor from Tacos Tamix
I just went to Mexico City, so I feel like my pastor palate is more precise than usual and I liked this pastor. Granted, it was also right next to the booth I was working so the convenience helped. But still, the slices off the trompo were meaty, the ratio of pineapple was perfect, and the avocado-tomatillo salsa never overpowered a bite. Find them on Pico Blv.
Octopus ceviche from Ceviche Project
The most well-dressed man at the event was plating tostaditas in a beige suit and a top hat. The ceviche was thoughtful as well, with clean flavors and a nice composition of octopus, avocado, tomato, and laced with habanero oil. Find them right now at a long-term pop-up in Silverlake.
Black Harder from Kokopelli
Inky and bright, this sole ceviche marinated in squid ink on a bed of roasted tomatoes with pickled onions and avocado salsa was the most beautiful plate I saw all day. A messy, dark, surprising dish that made me miss Baja immediately. Find them in Tijuana.
And of course, an unofficial mention of the Mex Samosa from Tacos Punta Cabras: lamb, peas in a masa and potato samosa with tamarind adobo and hierba salsa. No, it’s not a taco, because we can always rely on my punk chef boyfriend to bend the rules.