Wednesday, November 18, 2009

La Estrella - not the best taco, but just as good

Where are the best tacos in LA?

I'm not even going to go there. It's like asking a Chinese lady, where are the best noodles? There are some debates you just don't want to spark. I've witnessed many contentions about the best taco's in town, whether or not a burrito's of true mexican lineage, and where hails the best hainan chicken. It can get bloody. Who's to say which taqueria heralds the ultimate taco. Taste is, afterall, quite subjective. LA, having a Hispanic population of 46%, is fortunate enough to have many authentic Mexican food establishments sprinkled through out the city. I'm sure each of which has it's loyal followers.

 I'm on no quest to uncover the primo taco. Having said that, I've been lusting for some authentic asada lately, which led me to the other side of town. In reality, this area was only a stone's throw away from Old Town Pasadena, yet it still made me feel like I was in the wrong neck of the woods. I circled the establishment twice before I decided to brave it, and parked my car. The place was a shack; shabby and rundown, with a few wooden tables in front of the order window, just like a true taqueria should be. Now, you know you're getting some true Mexican food when all you hear is Spanish, the menus not in English, and not a single gringo is to be spotted.

My meal was a trio of carne asada and el pastor tacos. I dug through the bag, curious to see what condiments accompanied it. Lime. Salsa Roja. Aghast! No radishes?! I'll just have to make do. The first thing I noticed was how red the tacos looked. It seemed saturated with the famous red sauce that people swear by. I like my tacos, neat, clean, and not overly wet. This was going to wreak havoc in my car. Did I forget to mention that I was enjoying my trio of tacos in the car? Being the coward that I am, I didn't want to stick out like a sore thumb.
Tacos. The tortilla was a tad bit thicker than the usual skin, maybe to hold the wet mass better. I dissected the parts and found a good meat to onion and cilantro ratio. The asada and el pastor were robustly flavored, not overly cooked, with just the right amount of fat. The only qualm I had was the amount of salsa, the contents were swimming in red. By the time I was done with the tacos, it looked as if I had a brawl with the salsa roja and lost. Sweat was trickling down my neck, the heat from the car, or the salsa? I'll never know.
It would have been near perfect if it wasn't for the excessive sauce. Subsequently, I'm still partial to the more subtle flavor of King's Taco and Alberto's. As I drove away from my covert parking spot with a smile on my face, I thought, where were those damn radishes when you needed them the most?

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