Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tacos Guanajuato,Boyle Heights, CA-Count Tacula and Mt. Tacocatepetl

With the blessings of the priest at the Lady of Talpa School in Boyle Heights, and throngs of hungry locals, Tacos Guanajuato has bequeathed unto Los Angeles, Vampiros(vampires). The Talpa shrine in Mexico, where one of the famous virgin Marys resides, is a a place where pilgrims go to receive miracles, well, if you're driving through Boyle Heights and hankering for something affordable and delicious, these guys certainly have the cure. The stand is located just outside the gate of the Lady of Talpa school, technically on the property, but no vampires are allowed inside the gate!

These tacos have been engineered by taqueros in labs to maximize sensorial delight.They are a construct of all that is good.

The menu has tacos and tortas, as well as the vampiros and volcanes(volcanoes). Vampiros and volcanes are the same thing, just depends on your STATE of mind. In Guanajuato, where this stand's taquero Pepe is from, they are called volcanes. In the state of Sinaloa they are referred to as vampiros.

The typical meats for vampiros, or volcanes, are asada and al pastor. Pepe has a well manicured trompo loaded with al pastor and the reassurance of pineapple atop the device. This is a sign! Pepe takes care to prepare on quality grilled, roasted, and steamed proteins. There's also tripa dorada(tripe cooked until dry and crunchy),and steamed cabeza(beef head).

Jose Luis is a true taquero ands takes his work seriously. He has the kind of pleasant, gentlemanly demeanour that is as traditional as his tacos. Yes, he's here to earn a living, but mostly he's here to make great tacos.

Ulises, handles the money and keeps a well-stocked condiment table. Cucumbers, radishes,limes, and three salsas, the pico de gallo is the right call for the vampiros/volcanes.

The tacos here are solid, I loved the rib and the tongue. Pepe peeled the tongue casing off right before my very eyes, "yes I'll have the steamed tongue." The rib has a nice oily sheen that adds to the enjoyment of this taco.

But the vampiro is to die for, and the volcan, explosive. It is called the volcano in Guanajuato because of its construction:a grill top dried corn tortilla, topped with melted cheese, carne asada or al pastor, and a mound of pico de gallo make it a dead ringer for an active volcano. Sinaloans call it the vamiro because, well, no one seems to know. If you ask most Sinaloans the origin of the vampiro, you'll get an "I don't know", but they all know what it is. I asked a friend from Tijuana while we were working in Mazatlan one night,"Where do these vampiros come from?" "Romania", he answered, with a straight face."Thanks for nothing, cabron."

I had to dig a little on this one, there was some stuff on the internet on english language blogs, but nothing in spanish and none of my Sinaloan friends here in LA and in Sinaloa had an answer. The accepted explanation on a few blogs is that it gets its name because the charred, crispy taco resembles a bat wing? Could be true, but a citation is needed. Two other hypotheses I've come up with is that the tortilla is wrinkled like Dracula's cape, and the fact that the vampiros only come out at night. Woo-oo-ah-AH! Or, mabe some costumed vampire showed up one night and asked for a tostada with cheese and asada, and with no deep fryer on hand, the taquero dried out the tortilla on the grill. "What do we call them?" "Vampiros, guey" (Vampires, fool.)

In any case, you can enjoy these in Sinaloa, and the Sinaloan stands in Tijuana, and right here outside the Lady of Talpa school in Boyle Heights. I will continue to ponder the question:"Do vampires really exist?"

Just for fun I ordered a vampiro with asada and a volcan with al pastor, Pepe just smiled. By know he's used to it.Oh, and Pepe doesn't know why its called a vampiro either. Many of his patrons haven't even heard of either of these tacos. But, it's an easy sell.

What sets this volcan, or vampiro apart from all the others I've had though is the way Pepe prepares the cheese. Instead of melting it on the tortilla, he grills the cheese directly, making a burnt cheese crepe out of one side of the cheese. He sticks this, "chicharron of cheese" side up, and melted cheese adheres to the tortilla on the bottom. Crunchy tortilla, with two textures of cheese, savory meats, and a cooling pico de gallo? This IS the taco miracle of Boyle Heights.

Tacos Guanajuato,Vampiros and Volcanes.
Located in front of the Lady of Talpa School
Savannah St., just south of 4th in Boyle Heights.
Every day except Tuesday from 6PM-11PM, later Fridays and Saturdays


gourmetpigs said...

Chicharron of cheese. I like it already.
And I like that guy's response, "Romania". Duh Bill :p

Food GPS said...

"Thanks for nothing, cabron." Hilarious. I can imagine you saying that. Well, whatever you call them, any stand that features chicharron de queso is alright by me.

streetgourmetla said...

Yeah, gourmetpigs, I didn't really appreciate the Romania response, dammit. He's one of those guys who's always joking and never funny, too. Demonios!

Josh, the chicharron de queso might be unfair, but who says life is fair! Screw fair, I'm going to 4th and Savannah.

MyLastBite said...

Um, yea. I'm so sick of dieting... need some real food... all looks so GREAT!!

pleasurepalate said...

These Vampiros look like they're worth losing a fang or two over. :)

streetgourmetla said...

Pleasurepalate-I love to count tacos,ah-ah-ah-ah,1-2-3 tacos,ah-ah-ah-ah.

Jo, we are going, were have vampiros and heading to booze after.

mattatouille said...

weird, why isn't my first comment showing?

Anonymous said...

*Gasp* You went back without me??!! Hey, if I weren't so hungry and greedy, we wouldn't have discovered this place that night!

streetgourmetla said...

Hey Matt,I had this in the qie, did some other posts, repasted to front, and realized I needed to delete the original, I think your comment was on there. Sorry.You can do it again, that would be nice.

Tomo-I must say this is our find. We'll always have vampiros. Yes, you just wanted to stop at every single stand didn't you? I must say, we took one for the team at that other place. And, you'll just have to come out and play more often, won't ya?

Anonymous said...

Not close to being a vampiro from sinaloa

streetgourmetla said...

Hey anonymous- I was just in Los Mochis and Culiacan about a week and a half ago,where I spent some time at the mercado in downtown, where the fondas at night all serve vampiros and pellizcadas.I have been all over Sinaloa, perhaps 30 trips, and yes, they are.

These are regional names of the same tacos, vampiros,caramelos, vampiros.What do you mean exactly?Taste, appearance, you've had better?

Do you have a rec in Sinaloa?

Anonymous said...