How I Became A Food Writer - I get the inevitable career question a lot. Why did you become a food writer? How do you become a food writer? For those who have asked me this in IRL, I p...
Monday, January 4, 2010
Tacos Cuernavaca, Not Just Another Pretty Face
The taco truck has etched itself in the fabric of Los Angeles,hitting a Kogi Truck is something you do while in town like going to see the stars on Hollywood Bl.
The countless new "culinary" trucks have given the aging, sagging "roach coach" a face lift and some implants. New foods, flashy paint, cute mascots, and an easy on the eyes customer representative.
We've moved from Whittier Bl. to Wilshire Bl. It's a great time to get out and take a chance on grub.
Well, Montebello's Tacos Cuernavaca seems to have rolled out of the same yard as the beautiful trucks with another proposition. What about the food? I mistook this truck the other night heading west from Pico Rivera on Whittier Bl. for, I don't know which truck? What's this one, Swedish tacos?Are you lost? This is the land of outlaw stands and roach coaches.
With a happy little torta as a mascot, a newish paint job, and a rather "urban assault vehicle-like" detail, a regional truck from the state if Morelos, Mexico has shown up.
The menu has 16 different tacos including cecina(cured beef), a specialty of Morelos.The chorizo is another sure way to go, reddish-orange, the color of deliciousness.There are six types of tortas, sincronizadas(ham and cheese in a flour tortilla),gringas(a substantial meat and cheese quesadilla),and mulitas, like a taco sandwich.
Dark roasted chile de arbol and a cooked on site salsa verde that stays fresh. I watched as one of the taqueros manned a pot, boiling tomatillos,onions, and whole chiles, that were then splashed in a blender.
The pickled vegetables and chiles are Bugs Bunny garden huge, reminding you of the virtues of a thoughtful condiment selection.Natural flavors of the home kitchen brought to the pavement.
The huaraches, although associated with Mexico City, are just as popular in the city of the "eternal spring", Cuernavaca, a short drive from Mexico City.
All elements come together to make a handsome and savory huarache that make this a destination for aficionados.
Tacos Cuernavaca serves three types of alambres, the alambre ilegal(pictured, the mixto, and the choriqueso. Alambres are are served at street stand in Cuernavaca as in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico often from tacos de guisado stands. They are the perfect tacos for a late night street party. Bacon, meat, cheese, peppers, onions, and other goodies are fried together and served with tortillas so you can make your own tacos. It's greasy, cheesy, and feels like you just mainlined succulence.
There are many tacos at this truck, the best is the cecina(Mexican jerked beef), but you might want to ask for the taco acorazado. The battleship taco, a specialty of Cuernavaca lives up to its title. A bed of rich Mexican rice is topped with stewed meat, other meats can be used too, and a finish of crema mexicana rests its substantial mass on two staggered corn tortillas.
Although I had been in Cuernavaca for a gig last year, I had missed this street treat.It was actually through a conversation with Gustavo Arrellano about some of his OC finds were I first heard of the taco acorazado.
I couldn't believe I had missed that when I was there, in Cuernavaca. So, on a recent visit to Tacos Cuernavaca I asked for one and the cashier nodded coolly alright. I asked him to verify if he heard me correctly, and he nodded slowly with crossed arms.
But the real treat here is the picadita, a relatively unknown antojito in Los Angeles. It's a huarache with a spread of beans,salsa, crema mexicana, and cotija cheese, unadorned by the familiar baroque layers of a huarache.
The picadita is also done in nearby Vera Cruz, but in Cuernavaca, a juicy side of cecina is a feather in the cap.This is reason for the drive alone, and a tasty change of pace.
There were four taqueros here in a fancy truck with a satellite dish, keenly aware of their unique cuisine, and ready for prime time. They seemed to be in the know. "Yeah, sure, take our picture."
There's an ad on the side of the truck that reads "Picaditas.....MMMmmm!!!!" It has a coke, and a pidadita crashing into a slice of cecina traveling at warp speed, as if it some super-hyped national campaign.But don't let that fool you, the team of pros here are serious cooks. You might be drawn by the truck's wiles, but you'll stay for the food, without regrets, and experience one of LA's best street food experiences.
Whittier Bl. at Eastmont
bordering Montebello and East LA.