Thursday, July 30, 2015

Los Angeles Magazine's Big Taco Issue is Online and the L.A. Tacopedia Grows to 47 Tacos

We now have 47 reasons to love the taco scene here in Los Angeles with updated L.A. Tacopedia, a run down of the L.A. taco styles you can easily find around the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. If you missed the July taco issue you can discover the 25 best tacos in L.A. on the Los Angeles magazine website, along with other articles from our epic taco issue. The 25 best tacos aren't in any real order, as they are all so different, but just know that these are currently the best 25 tacos you can have in L.A. Let me know what you think, and provecho!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

LA Weekly's Tacolandia 2015 Video Recap


Close to 5000 people attended and 80 vendors served amazing tacos at the 2015 LA Weekly Tacolandia event, curated by myself, at the greatest taco show on the planet. It's hard to believe we're just 2 years out from our inaugural event, which featured just 25 vendors and 1500 people, rather intimate in comparison.

If you haven't been yet, Tacolandia 2016 is right around the corner, but do enjoy this video recap of the wonderful vendors and taco aficionados that make this such a special day in L.A.

See you in 2016.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Join Cookbook Author Lesley Téllez, OC Weekly Editor Gustavo Arellano and I This Sunday for an Epic Taco Crawl

My good friend Lesley Téllez of the Mija Chronicles, Eat Mexico tours is in town to celebrate the release of her new cookbook, Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City's Streets, Markets and Fondas. This Sunday, Lesley will join OC Weekly editor and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America and I for an Epic tacos crawl from Los Angeles to the OC featuring handpicked spots by Gustavo and myself that reflect the recipes in Lesley's new cookbook.

For the price of $125.00, you'll be well fed and receive a signed copy of Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City's Streets, Markets and Fondas. Only a few tickets remain--who's hungry for street tacos?

Epic Taco Crawl with Bill Esparza, Gustavo Arellano and Lesley Téllez
Sunday June 28, 11am to 5pm
$125 a person for food, transportation and an autographed cookbook are available here on Eventbrite

Monday, June 1, 2015

Broken Spanish Hosts Tacolandia's Night of Modern Mexican Cuisine, This Friday June 5th with DeLeon Tequila

Pictured from top left (clockwise): Chef Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish), Chef guillermo Gonzalez (Pangea), Chef Solange Muris (Manzanilla), Chef Diego Hernandez (Corazon de Tierra), Chef Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos)

Modern Mexican cuisine has been a hot topic this last year with the arrival of chef Enrique Olvera's Cosme in NYC, chef Javier Plascencia's Bracero, which opens in San Diego next month, and the recent announcement that chef Diego Hernandez will be opening +52 in the Fall, right here in L.A. Local chefs like Wes Avila and hosting chef Ray Garcia--along with others here in town--have begun to define a homegrown style of Modern Mexican here in Southern California, known as Alta California cuisine.

Chef Ray Garcia has seized the opportunity of having some of the best Mexican chefs in the world here in town for LA Weekly's sold-out Tacolandia (6/6), to put on a pre-Tacolandia, 6-course dinner, sponsored by DeLeon tequila, who will be pouring their tequila at the cocktail reception.

Garcia will be joined by 3 chefs from the San Pellegrino Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants: Guillermo Gonzalez (Pangea), Solange Muris (Manzanilla), and Diego Hernandez (Corazon de Tierra) and chef Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos) for a special Modern Mexican dinner at Broken Spanish, in the former Rivera space. Sergio Gutierrez of Monterrey's Bocanegra beer will pair up with chef Gonzalez on his course.

This dinner represents where Modern Mexican began, with pioneering restaurants Pangea (1998) and Manzanilla (2000), to the current generation of contemporary Mexican restaurants on both sides of the border, Corazon de Tierra, Broken Spanish and Guerrilla Tacos.

Tacolandia has been sold out for 7 weeks, so here's a chance to get in on the festivities, or make it a Tacolandia weekend if you've already got your golden tickets. Tickets are $107.95 each on Eventbrite for rare chance to catch this Modern Mexican line-up in Los Angeles.

Broken Spanish Hosts Tacolandia's Night of Modern Mexican Cuisine
Friday June 5 @Broken Spanish; $107.95 per person
6pm to 10pm
Tickets are available here on Eventbrite.
1050 S. Flower St.
Downtown Los Angeles

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Work for Tacos? Volunteer to Eat Tacos with Boobs 4 Food at LA Weekly's Sold Out Tacolandia, 6/6/15

By now you've heard the news, that LA Weekly's Tacolandia 2015 is sold out, and did so 7 weeks ahead of the much anticipated event. Well, taco lovers, there's still a chance to enjoy tacos from 80 different vendors, from L.A., the O.C., San Diego and from 3 different states in Mexico as a volunteer with my dear friends at Boobs 4 Food. As a volunteer, you get full access to a place where all your taco dreams come true--yes, you can proudly share with your friends with certainty that "Will Work for Tacos" is actually a thing.

Go to the Boobs 4 Food Facebook page to sign up as a volunteer for Tacolandia 2015 on June 6th at Olvera St., but hurry because participation is on a first serve basis.

Boobs 4 Food founders, Katherine, Liberty and Jessica Chen.

About Boobs 4 Food (courtesy of their website)

Founded in July of 2009, Boobs4Food is a volunteer supported organization committed to bridging passion for food & the passion to feed the hungry. We organize monthly volunteer events, open to the public, at local hunger awareness organizations, agencies and hunger related special events (currently in San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and in NYC).

Recognizing that food is a necessity that unites us all, Boobs4Food strives to unite the food-loving community with those for whom the next meal is an uncertainty.

Since 2009, together with our volunteers, we have contributed over thousands of volunteer hours to hunger agencies & organizations including San Francisco Food Bank, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Glide Memorial, The Midnight Mission, Share Our Strength, Taste of The Nation, Second Harvest Food Bank, Project Open Hand, FoodForward, Project Angel Food, Food Runners, Hawaii Food Bank, Food Bank for NYC, Taste of the Nation NYC.

Boobs 4 Food volunteers happy to give back to their community

OG Boob, Christina Abellera, and another volunteer preparing meals at a Boobs 4 Food event

There's no job too big or too small for the women and men of Boobs 4 Food.

If you're not able to volunteer for Tacolandia 2015, Boobs 4 Food serves the communities of Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco year round, just go to for more information about upcoming opportunities to make a difference, or visit their Facebook page.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Donde Comer, May 8, 2015: Bill Esparza's Weekend Restaurant Picks, Los Angeles

In order to be of better service you readers, I'm starting this weekly series of restaurant picks. Some will be links from my blog here; some will be from my posts in Los Angeles Magazine, and whatever else comes across my desk at the Street Gourmet LA headquarters here in Hollywood, CA. Here are three spots I recommend for you to try this weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

OC Register's Anti-Taco Critic, Brad Johnson Strikes Out Again

The best tacos come with comfy chairs and Kenny G

The problem with Mexican cuisine in the United States--outside of Los Angeles, and the OC Weekly--is an unprepared group of bloggers and writers--the national trend is towards Asian and Latin-American cuisine, and it's either get informed or come off sounding like a Brad Johnson, the food critic of the OC Register. In Los Angeles, even your basic blogger can put together a pretty damn good taco list--all the major publications, the LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Eater LA, and the publication I write for, Los Angeles Magazine, have credible taco coverage. Hell, even Zagat can crank out a solid taco list--take that Brad Johnson!

OC Register critic, Brad Johnson's ideal taco lounge

In the OC, editor and compa, Gustavo Arellano, and his band of crack food reporters are sharp shooters in all cuisines, and have doctorates in taco journalism. San Diego pubs are doing a good job, mostly. Out there in NYC, the fine dining critics are scrambling to hit the streets and taquerias, but are they're clueless and inexperienced when it comes to Mexican cuisine (just like Johnson), aside from table side guacamole--something that would be right up Brad Johnson's alley. Johnson has showed his lack of knowledge and respect for Mexican cuisine since day one. I remember the idiotic ideal he put out there when he first started at the Register, that he'd be judging Mexican restaurants by their chips and salsa? Estupidez!

As Gustavo Arellano pointed out in his OC Weekly post titled, What Kind of "Best Tacos" List Bans Food Trucks? Why, the OC Register's, of Course, Johnson set down a narrow criteria specifying that tacos on his list would only be from places where he could sit down. It's anti-taco culture, lazy and makes no sense. Taco culture and tradition has its strongest expressions at the street stands, fondas and carts in Mexico; in L.A. it's a combination of street stands and food trucks. If Johnson were here, Guerrilla Tacos wouldn't be on his list, even though the ingredients are plenty fancy enough for the OC's lead hotel restaurant critic. We enjoy sitting down, too, but the tacos should be exceptional for a taco quest for the best taco.

What's even more shoddy is Johnson's poorly researched treatment of each vendor, the odd categories he created for the list, and complete ignorance of Mexican cuisine. In the 80's, there were other cuisines for a good critic to know: French, Italian, and California's emerging cuisine. Times have changed, and if you can't vet the Googled sources you find, Mr. Johnson, you'd best get some help--try Zagat, and then go from there.

The taco categories of chicken, lengua (lengua is a category?), seafood and barbacoa de res aren't categories--there are no chicken tacos in Mexican cuisine (they are common in Mexican-American cuisine, but unremarkable), outside of Mexicali; tongue is served at tacos de fritanga vendors at their steam stations, and at steamed beef head specialists--barbacoa de res is a guisado. The carne asada on Johnson's list isn't cooked over mesquite and therefore isn't even carne asada. Seafood tacos at a carnitas joint--who does that? Real carnitas vendors should only do regional carnitas; they're not competent when it comes to seafood. And those al vapor tacos from La Especial aren't Mexico City style tacos de canasta; the fillings are different, there's no lettuce used in D.F., and they wouldn't be called tacos al vapor.

Not to mention, these taquerias aren't the best of what the OC has to offer and they're not likely the best tacos you can eat while sitting down in a hotel courtyard listening to Kenny G, either. Ultimately, it exposes a lack of conviction by Johnson, at least when it comes to Mexican cuisine, and  a failure to serve OC readers, not to mention the restaurants and people working hard to make great tacos, whether in a truck, a stand or taqueria.

But it's not their fault, the restaurants--that would be dilettante critic Brad Johnson, who takes tacos and Mexican cuisine about as serious Dick Cheney regards civil rights and international law. Stick to the papas francesas (try some salchipulpos, though, you're going to love 'em) and the Fairmont Hotel brunch, comepapas.