Sunday, July 15, 2007
King of the Taco World?
I finally tried King Taco and it didn't disappoint. I can't say it was the best I've ever had, but its al pastor version definitely got me hooked on this barbecued pork that is slightly charred on the edges with a slightly pinkish color.
King Taco is almost like a fast food chain, boasting 16 locations throughout Southern California. I realized when I went that I had much to learn about the humble taco. I had prided myself in being somewhat of a connoisseur of this Mexican classic. I fondly recalled the carne asada tacos I had during a road trip to Baja California where I drove all the way to La Paz over the course of several days, stopping by little known towns on the way such as Ciudad Constitucion and Guerrero Negro, and sampling different varieties of tacos in each city. The folks in these towns weren't used to people stopping by and it didn't take long for us to find a favorite taco stand in Ciudad Constitucion run by a very nice lady who made everything from scratch. Needless to say, we made sure to stop by her stand on the way back up to L.A..
Back to King Taco. Upon entering, I saw a very long counter that divided the customer and the cooks/assemblers. After seeing the wide array of filling choices, I had to annoy the lady behind the counter by asking her gringa questions like, "What is buche, molleja, and suadero?" Just so you don't have to hold everyone up at the line, here's the lowdown.
Buche is pig's stomach. Molleja are sweetbreads, those thymus glands of veal, young beef, lamb and pork. I'm not sure which animal's sweetbreads King Taco uses, but I'm going to assume they use the pig's. Suadero is a thin cut of beef from the meat that hangs from the breast bone on a cow.
I tried the Suadero, which had an interesting texture that I didn't love. My favorite was al pastor, perhaps reflected in the photo above that focuses on the top left taco. The bottom left was the carne asada that was nothing to write home about. And the bottom right is the suadero, which I wouldn't get again. The combination of the meats, raw chopped onions and fresh cilantro topped with fiery red salsa was pretty good. You could also ask for salsa verde.
King Taco also offers carnitas (shredded pork), lengua (cow tongue), cabeza (cow head) and chicken. We also got rice, beans and guacamole on the side, all of which were decent but nothing special.
Factoid: I was surprised to find that King Taco owns El Taurino on Hoover and Olympic in Koreatown, which serves famed burritos with very spicy salsa that you want to make sure to get on the side. This is the joint that gets extremely crowded on weekend evenings, so much that they have a truck in the parking lot behind the actual restaurant that caters to late-night workers or club-crawlers until the wee hours.
645 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015