Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tacos y Mulitas Estilo Tijuana: Tijuana Style Carne Asada Arrives at the Mercado Olympic



At the beginning of the year I revealed the presence of a truly fascinating street food scene located in Downtown LA's produce district. The Mercado Olympic has continued to grow and change ever since as new vendors have joined the party.

This market is so busy I doubt I'll know all that's going on there anytime soon, but each time I try something different--this weekend I even picked a homemade queso fresco.

The stand that caught my eye on a previous visit: Taco y Mulitas estilo Tijuana, or Tijuana style, came too late in the curbside buffet for me to give it a try. I've previously written that real carne asada doesn't exist in LA, and that Mexicali Taco and Co. was the closest thing we had. The boys at Mexicali Taco and Co. roast their meat with gas, which is much better than the grammatically incorrect carne asada tacos around town cooked on flat tops. The verb asar means to roast, and you can't roast on a flat top.

Yes, I know, you've seen itinerant vendors around town cooking on mesquite. There are two basic components necessary here, first, the meat must be roasted on mesquite in order to be considered carne asada. The flavor that emerges from this process is crucial. Second, carne asada is the craft of northern taqueros, specifically: Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Baja California. Sonora is by far the greatest tradition, but I'd put Baja California in the top 3. In other words, unless the taqueros are from these states, they are weekend warriors from states that don't know how to prepare carne asada.



Our newcomer to the Mercado starts off with corn tortillas made to order--corn tortillas are the preferred choice of tijuanenses; in Mexicali as in Sonora, flour tortillas are the standard.



The meat is cooked on mesquite by a grill man who knows his business. The meat is of decent quality, but the seasoning and chopping are spot on. This is carne asada.



A young taquero has fresh onion and cilantro, the signature salsa roja (a tomato-based red salsa) of the Tijuana stands, and Tijuana style guacamole which is essentially pure avocado with some salt. He even wraps the taco into a conical shape like back home.



Of course I wish this was available in the evening, as is the tradition for carne asada--nighttime is when we crave burnt flesh. In Mexico, the grilled meat tacos come out after 6PM, but for now I will just have to live with this minor faux pas in order to enjoy what is now my favorite carne asada taco in LA.

Tacos y Mulitas Estilo Tijuana
Mercado Olympic
Olympic/Central
Sat-Sun, mornings until around 5pm

14 comments:

A to the Z said...

The Tijuana style taco really comes from Puebla , hence the abundance of Taco shops in TJ named "poblanitos" or "poblanos"

streetgourmetla said...

A to the Z. It doesn't come from Puebla, the taqueros however, do.These tacos don't exist in Puebla, neither does carne asada really. It's not their thing. The style was developed by Los Poblanos taqueria doing TJ style with Pueblan taqueros. Carne asada is and forever shall be norteno.

Food GPS said...

Bill, too bad this stand wasn't up and running in January, but that just gives me a reason to return to Mercado Olympic.

Anonymous said...

Do they set up in the same spot every weekend? Drive by couple of weeks ago, couldn't find them

streetgourmetla said...

Food GPS, a second visit? That's fantastic news.


Anonymous-Yes, they're always in the same spot, but with these vendors nothing is 100% guaranteed in respect to location and hours.

streetgourmetla said...

Anonymous-I was there today,and the carne asada vendor was out, at the same spot.

Anonymous said...

by far the best tacos I've eat that you can say it feels like the actual flavor and taste of tijuana tacos. Including the plates they use are the same (just pointing it out).

Anonymous said...

Bill, you need to find these guys, they have been MIA for 2 or 3 weeks. Construction is going on and they section they were at is fenced off. Help! I need my tacos! Thank You

Anonymous said...

Hi guys.. i am the taquero. Sorry for being absent couple of weeks, we should start selling this weekend our regular hours. The only thing is that we might be across the street or closer to central ave.

Fat Man said...

I was at the mercado with the wifey this morning looking for these guys with your pic on my phone like I was looking for a ;ost family member. Guess I'll have to try again tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Dos Hermanos, Where are you, I have been looking for you. I have driven by 4 or 5 times, I went by today. Please let us know where you are.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to these great Taqueros? Really enjoyed their style of tacos! Where are you? Bill, the other places you sent me were not as good IMHO, HELP!

streetgourmetla said...

Anonymous--there's a phone number on their banner in one of the pictures on this post. Give it a try, or have a Spanish speaking friend call if you don't speak Spanish. I haven't been down there in the past month or so--been traveling--suerte.

Anonymous said...

Are you still setting up around the same area? I haven't been able to find you guys :(