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Happy National Taco Day!
A few nights ahead of today’s momentous event, we sent Matt and his domestique Todd out on a special mission- to ride bikes and eat tacos.
We didn’t plan it when we moved in over a decade ago but swrve HQ is now surrounded by some of the finest taco stands and trucks in Los Angeles, so many in fact that it would truly be an exercise in human endurance to try them all over the course of a single ride so Matt and Todd kept their adventure to some of their personal favorites.
Less than a mile from the front door of swrve HQ, you’ll find Angel’s Tijuana Tacos set up outside the smallest Target in the known universe. On most nights, it’s not uncommon to see the line 100 people deep. We rolled up not long after they started serving to beat the evening rush along with a couple dozen others who had the same idea and began turning the outer reaches of the parking lot into a taco tailgate zone. As far as we can tell, Target’s management doesn’t seem to mind thanks to a steady stream of diners flowing into the store for beverages until closing time.
Our rule for the evening was simple: One al pastor taco at each stop and we immediately broke it because the correct number of tacos to order is always three.
The correct number of tacos.
Angel’s Pro-Tip: Ask for your tacos to be prepared with the crispy bits of al pastor.
The next destination on our voyage took us to nearby York Blvd. On most nights, food vendors line both sides of the street but for reasons unknown it was a ghost town on an otherwise busy Thursday night. Gliding to a stop where Villa's is normally posted up had us feeling like we dropped out of hyperspace where Alderaan used to be but a quick check of their Instagram confirmed they simply decided to take a few days off, which is nice because the Villa's crew works hard and has the back-to-back Taco Madness championships to show for it. To paraphrase The Stranger in the Big Lebowski, those titles would place them high in the running for best tacos worldwide. Seriously.
Again. The correct number of tacos. (From a previous visit.)
And in the interest of full disclosure, our York Blvd stop was slated to also include a vegan option as there are usually several to choose from. We’ll have to try again soon.
With Villa's off the list, we headed further east to where York meets Figueroa to try out Tacos La Guera and were treated to a very solid entry in the neighborhood's al pastor options. The next time we pedal back from an event at the Cub House, it’s going to be hard not to stop here, especially with the Gabriellino Pasta stand a few yards away.
The roots of tacos al pastor can be traced back to the wave of Lebanese who immigrated to Mexico in the early 20th century and brought along a vertical grilling technique that originated in Turkey circa 1850 that led to the creation of döner kebab and shawarma.
Trendy restaurants love having a community table but it's hard to get more community than this.
Our spiciest stop of the night. Tacos La Morenrita might not have the hype as the others on our list but it’s only a matter of time before their cover is blown as a hidden gem in the neighborhood. Tucked around the corner from San Fernando Blvd, Tacos La Morenita lures customers with a small, flashing sign that simply reads “Tacos” hung from a utility pole. The sign pulled in Todd like a tractor beam a couple years ago following a particularly brutal loss by the Dodgers and it’s since become one of his favorites no matter if the Dodgers win or lose. And that’s the beauty of tacos, they’re there to cheer you up when you’re sad and are there to liven up any celebration.
Matt living his best life.
It was here that we broke out the camp chairs that Todd brought along on his e-cargo bike and we received more than a few curious looks from some fellow cyclists about being so prepared to eat tacos but they seemed to respect the effort.
For our final stop of the night, we went to pay our respects to the king because without the vision and hard work of King Taco founder Raul Martinez Sr., there’s a chance we wouldn’t be doing this ride. Back in 1974, Martinez Sr. hit the streets of Los Angeles in what is considered to be the FIRST taco truck. Thanks to robust business, he opened his first King Taco location the following year and it still proudly serves our neighborhood today.
The tacos that started it all.
While polishing off our tacos on the patio, one of the cyclists who was at Tacos La Morenrita took a pit stop on his way home to say hello and ask if we were on a taco tour. After we nodded yes (due to mouths stuffed with al pastor) he cheerfully gave us directions to a truly secret spot found in the nearby backyard of a family’s home. We were instantly game for bonus tacos but they weren’t serving this evening.
The location has been marked for a future visit and we’re eager to do a follow-up report.
Final tally: 10.17 miles, 9 tacos, 1 sparkling water, 1 hibiscus drink, and an evening of delicious adventure for under $40.
The swrve Taco Loop.