I Was On CCTV! - Talking about my backpacking trip and Chinese food. Can’t bring myself to watch the whole thing; I hate seeing myself talk. Makes me cringe. Plus, I lived ...
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tacos Arandas, East Los Angeles,CA: Real Taquero Tradition from the Highlands of Jalisco
The city of Arandas,located in the highlands of the state of Jalisco, is famous for several things. Its beautiful, tall, and fair-skinned women are legendary in Mexico. When you mention to a man in Mexico that you are heading to los altos de Jalisco(highlands of Jalisco), you are guaranteed to get your back slapped , a mile wide grin, and a long and devious "aiiiiiiii!!!"
Arandas is also the most important tequila producing city in the highlands of Jalisco. If the highlands of Jalisco would be considered the Bordeaux of tequila, then Arandas would be the village of Pauillac.
The cooking of the highlands of Jalisco is also revered, for its artisinal traditions, unique dishes, and for having some of the best tacos in the state of Jalisco.
Tacos Arandas in East Los Angeles is doing tacos the way they should, with a real team of taqueros, and a proper street food tradition. In tacoing, more taqueros means better tacos, a line kitchen approach, and a separate money handler.
There are no taco trucks in Mexico, and taqueros cook in very departmentalized conventions. Carne asada, al pastor, barbacoa, birria and fritanga(offal,sausages and lesser cuts) are all separate disciplines, like Japanese yakitori(grilled chicken) and yakiniku(grilled beef). The typical Mexican-American style food truck in Los Angeles with 7-10 different grilled meats, including chicken? Doesn't exist in Mexico.Grilled chicken....
This young man on the end is the keeper of the trompo(spit). He prepares the pork in an chile and citrus marinade, loads the trompo, roasts, and then griddles the sliced al pastor before serving. True al pastor as it is done in the Yucatan, Puebla, and Mexico City is thin-sliced from perfect rows directly onto the tortilla from the trompo, and always comes with pineapple. In northern Mexico, the meat is cut and griddled before serving as these are here at Tacos Arandas. In the north it's called adobada, and isn't always accompanied by pineapple, although sometimes it is. Often times the adobada style vendors call their adobada, al pastor. This varies all over Mexico.
The other taquero tends to the true friend of the taco, the comal de acero, or stainless steel disc. These are all the fun parts and goodies:chorizo, suadero(brisket),buche(pig's upper intestine), tripa(tripe), and even asada(steak). This is not a Mexican carne asada of note, but just a lesser cut that is fried in the oil inside the disc along with the other meats. Lips, ears,kidneys,and sometimes a steam table with eyes, brains, tongue, and sweetbreads can be a part of this style of tacoing.
Upon closer inspection, new potatoes and whole onions that will slowly steam and soak up the essences of the array of meats, are what reels you in. Cruising through East LA with Shawna Dawson looking for some street food love, I pointed out the potatoes and onions to which we both flashed a collective heeeeeeellloooooo!
I that wasn't convincing enough, the salsas and condiments were farmer's market fresh, and ready for a magazine photo shoot. Simple, colorful, and deeply flavored salsa roja with chile de arbol, an avocado sauce, and a tomatillo and serrano chile salsa.
Lightly pickled purple onion with thin rings of jalapeno and habanero bring a cool, stinging heat. The pico de gallo is a summer rancho picnic with a perfect breeze.
Voluptuous jalapenos are blistered on the grill to amplify their scoville ranking, as vibrant green flesh morphs into a wrinkled black and olive drab fire bomb.
The asada taco is solid, and heads and shoulders above most of the trucks around town, but this is the least interesting taco at Tacos Arandas.The toppings available complete the dish, and when the salsas and condiments are this good, you really get to indulge your inner taquero.
Shawna and I then ordered up suadero, tripas, buche, and chorizo. The suadero was nice, and the chorizo was of a higher quality than the usual. The industrial chorizos imported from Mexico have lost their color and flavor by the time they reach the markets and the consumer here. It's often dry flavorless and looks like burnt ground beef. The chorizo at this stand was above average. We really could use a skilled Tolucan(from Toluca) sausage stuffer here in LA.
But the top honors at Tacos Arandas go to the earthy tripas, and the delectable buche. Order a quartet like we did and paint them delicous with spice, vegetable, and citrus flair.
This is the type of place you should be eating tacos. It's not that ridiculous chain, the mega grilled meats truck, those dull and chewy bits covered by sad salsas.
This is real street food, bona fide taco form, and a real team of taqueros that take pride in their cooking. These are Mexican tacos from Arandas in the highlands of Jalisco, the land of tequila, beauty queens, and a rich culinary heritage.
7 days a weeks, evenings after 6pm
located on the north-east corner of Gage and Dozier
East Los Angeles, CA