Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Southern California. Having never seen that part of the country, I was pretty excited about the trip - to see the desert, the Pacific Coast Highway, and of course, the tacos.
I arrived late Tuesday afternoon, dropped off my things at the hotel, and headed straight to East Los Angeles, intending to check out King Taco, an old chain of LA taco stands that seems to be well-loved. I pulled onto Olympic Blvd around dusk and there, among the smog emission stations and carnicerias, taco trucks were lining up for business along the sidewalks, and I changed my mind. My first stop was El Korita.
I was a little self concious in my flashy rental car, and being the only gringo on the block, but the warm smile of the man walking up to the truck at the same time and offering for me to order first (wearing a black shirt in the photo) put me right at ease. I ordered one taco al pastor and one de lengua, then stepped into the grocery across the parking lot for a bottle of Coke.
In no time my tacos were ready, and served through the window of the truck in beautiful, fresh, handmade tortillas with onions and cilantro. The lengua was tender and delicious, and the pastor, mildly sweet and spicy and juicy and cut from the rotisserie behind the window of the truck and, may have been the best I've had.
Dinner on the trunk of my rental car:
Though satisfied from El Korita, I was excited to try more, so I stopped at a truck across the boulevard and ordered two more - one chorizo and another al pastor. The man preparing the food signed through the window to ask whether I wanted roasted jalapeños and onions and I smiled back and nodded yes. I picked up the tacos and got back on the freeway.
As the sun went down, I drove west toward Santa Monica and took in the city. I parked on the pier, found an empty bench by some guys fishing, and sat down for the rest of my meal. The tacos may have suffered a little from the forty minutes in the car, but along with the friendly faces on the pier and the cool ocean air, it all made for a great welcome to the west coast.