Category Archives: California

Curbside Tacos: Leo’s Taco Truck, Tacos La Guera, Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla, and Mariscos Jalisco

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As far as taco capitals north of the border, it’s hard to beat Los Angeles. Often called the largest Mexican city outside of Mexico, the city is home to an intimidating array of tacos styles served in fast-casual spots, full-service restaurants, makeshift corner setups and food trucks.

Faced with compiling a survey of those options for a two-and-a-half day LA taco trip the first week of February proved difficult but fun. The list was revised from 25 stops to 40 and then down to approximately 20. It could have been 70! Four businesses that were on the itinerary from the start were Leo’s Taco Truck, Tacos La Guera, Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla and Mariscos Jalisco. Continue reading

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Filed under California, East LA, Los Angeles, Reviews

Book Review: The Tacolicious Cookbook

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Photography: © 2014 by Alex Farnum

This is an excerpt of a book review that originally appeared on Cowboys & Indians magazine’s website. Read the entire post at www.cowboysindians.com.

There is a small group of taquerias and food trucks pushing the boundaries of the taco in the United States. Wes Avila’s Guerrilla Tacos; Guisados from Armando De La Torre Sr. and Armando De La Torre Jr.; Alex Stupak’s Empellón in New York; Revolver Taco Lounge from the Rojas family in Fort Worth, Texas; Taqueria Feliz in Philadelphia, where Lucio Palazzo helms the kitchen; and Antique Taco in Chicago are all part of that company. And then there is Tacolicious from husband and wife Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave with executive chef Telmo Faria in San Francisco.

What Tacolicious and the others understand is that there exists a tradition that must be acknowledged. They remain faithful to it and have discovered how to play with their food within the boundaries, although they’re not afraid to punch the occasional hole in the barrier. These restaurants offer a mix of classic options and dishes that allow them to flex creative muscle, usually with an eye toward high-quality local, seasonal foods.

With Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More (Ten Speed Press, 2014) by Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave, Tacolicious has planted itself firmly in that foundation.

Read the rest and get recipes at www.cowboysindians.com.

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Filed under books, California, San Francisco, Taco Internet

An Interview With L.A. Taco’s Blazedale

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When it comes to taco hot spots in the United States, there is no spot more incandescent than Southern California, with Los Angeles as its bright center where every type of taco is seemingly within reach and where the taco’s boldface proselytizers congregate. Among them is the crew behind L.A. Taco, a website established in 2005 to shine the spotlight on all that is great in LA via the taco and taco lifestyle. The mission has resulted in a vibrant mix of urban photography, interviews with artists, musicians and writers. The latter has included taco scribes Bill Esparza, Gustavo Arellano and Jeffrey M. Pilcher. Along the way there has been plenty of fun, including a mascot, bracket-style competition Taco Madness and the contest’s subsequent taco festival.

That festival took place on April 20—the same day as the Taco Trail co-founded North Texas Taco Festival in Dallas, Texas. In the run up to our shindigs, L.A. Taco’s Blazedale and I struck up a correspondence.

We caught up with Blazedale again this week for a Taco Week interview.

Taco Trail: What was the inspiration for L.A. Taco?

L.A. Taco: L.A. is such a diverse city and while there are thousands of things which unite different communities, there are fewer which bring the city together. By far the tastiest of these is the taco. We wanted to create a place to document our favorite unsung parts of the city such as street art, dive bars, and of course tacos. At that time, these things weren’t nearly as celebrated as they are today.

TT: L.A. Taco supports the taco lifestyle. What is the taco lifestyle?

LAT: To us the taco lifestyle is about getting out of the house and exploring your city. Checking out a new bar, an art show, live music, or hunting for a new taco spot you’ve never tried before. Finishing up a great night out with a taco is really the best thing ever, and an experience that is quintessential Los Angeles.

TT: L.A. is the taco capital of the United States. What are your thoughts on the rise of the taco across the country? Continue reading

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Filed under California, interviews, Lengua Sessions, Los Angeles, Taco Week

An Interview With Steve Sando, Owner of Rancho Gordo

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Photo Credit: Israel Valencia

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I first met Steve Sando online.  His passion for Mexican food was apparent.  I didn’t need to look into his eyes to see it. The love of Mexican culture and Mexico itself spilled onto the screen. I met him in person for the first time at the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco. He was hawking beans and I’d been given requests by Portlanders aplenty to mule some back north.

Since then, Steve has taken the lowly bean from a neglected legume to superstar-status ingredient. Sando’s company, Rancho Gordo, grows, imports and promotes heirloom and heritage varieties while working directly with consumers and chefs like Thomas Keller, Deborah Madison, Paula Wolfert and David Kinch.

Sando’s seed saving, bean production, and marketing efforts provide professional and home chefs with heirloom beans that would otherwise have been lost to history. The beans, along with corn, chiles, and tomatoes, have become key ingredients in the new American food revolution centered in Sando’s native San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, Sando and Rancho Gordo were named number two on Saveur magazine’s “The Saveur 100 list for 2008.” Bon Appetit magazine declared Sando one of the Hot 10 in the food world of 2009. Food + Wine magazine placed Steve “at the forefront of the current seed-saving movement.”  Steve’s two books are  Heirloom Beans and The Rancho Gordo Bean Growers Guide.

He now grows more than 25 varieties in California and works with small indigenous farmers in Mexico to import their heirloom beans for the U.S. market. He lives in Napa and travels frequently throughout the Americas.

Taco Trail: I use your beans at Mi Mero Mole, as you know, for frijoles charros. One time I ran out and tried regular pinto beans. I ended up giving the soup away rather than selling it because it was so much worse. It doesn’t even seem to matter which bean of yours I use for the soup.  It turns out great with every variety I’ve tried.  Why in the hell are your beans so damn good?

Steve Sando: My first guess would be that they’re fresh, as in less than a year old. I don’t want to tell you how old some commercial beans are. It’s not right. There are variations within pinto beans, but they are a very light colored bean and only get darker as they get older. You really want to eat them within two years if you can.

This will sound ridiculous, but most everyone at Rancho Gordo loves beans and none of us would tolerate an inferior product at this point. If there were problems, or even if beans were lackluster, bells would go off long before the problem got to me, let alone the consumer.

TT: Is there a region of Mexico with especially interesting or diverse beans? If so, what are some favorites and why? Continue reading

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Filed under California, interviews, Taco Week

A National Taco Day Taqueria List

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Come National Taco Day, Friday, you’ll be required to eat a plethora of tacos. You’ll be overwhelmed with choices. So, we thought we’d offer a few choices. The following selections were compiled with the help of fellow taco enthusiasts across the United States. If your city is mentioned below, these joints are where you grab a taco or nine, especially if you haven’t visited it. Adventure is an integral component of the enjoyment of tacos.

California

Colonia Taco Lounge, 13030 E. Valley Blvd., La Puente, CA 91746, 626-363-4691, Facebook. Coliflor with a caper salsa on tortillas molded by ex-Bouchon head baker’s hands (te la puedes imaginar), taco de chayote with calabacita succotash, pork and kabocha squash pumpkin carnitas with a salsa seca

Diablo Steak

Diablo Taco, 3129 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026, 323-666-4666, Facebook, Twitter, www.diablotaco.com. Coca-Cola asada, caramelized onions and white bacon beans (pictured) or the maple-fried chicken and kale.

El Faisan y El Venado, 231 N. Ave. 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042, 323-257-1770. Escabeche Oriental Continue reading

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Filed under California, Canada, Florida, Illinois, National Taco Day, Oregon, Taco Week, Texas