1157 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Date of Visit
January 7th, 2011 – circa 1:30am, immediately following a night of revelry at La Descarga.
Okay, first and foremost it’s a taqueria. For a taqueria, there’s only one milieu requirement – atmósfera auténtico, and this spot has it in droves. Replete with an homage to the Virgin Mary, some rosaries, bright colors and a painted-on-the-cement-wall menu, Taco’s El Patio (yes apostrophe, no website) is the L.A. equivalent of. . .well, L.A., but still – it harkens one to thoughts of Tijuana, or Juarez prior to the cartel takeover. The (clean) kitchen is open and viewable, so you can watch the chef make your favorite meat, whether it’s lengua, al pastor, pollo or even cabeza. After you order, the debauchery takes place under a tent in the back – that is, if you don’t want to eat at the narrow counter by the register – where you can listen to the best in bolero, ranchero, cumbias & tomborazo.
A big must for me while dining at a taqueria is a salsa bar; very telling of a spot & its ownership. Some places have one, maybe two salsas (rojo y verde) and others offer lime/lemon, maybe some jalapeños and if you’re really lucky, you’ll encounter my favorite – sliced, marinated carrots with onion & cauliflower.
One look at the bar of Taco’s El Patio and I was in Cielo. TEP has all of the above, and while waiting for my food, I filled up my container and drunkenly got down on those carrots. . .only one thing was off – those are NOT carrots. In true auténtico fashion, my mouth caught fire after one bite. Being a bit of a gardener myself, I was able to instantly recognize the source of this capsaicin – the mighty habanero. Yes, folks, those unassuming orange-colored slivers are quite literally 1,000,000 Scoville Heat units of flavor waiting to burst in your mouth. . or your taco.
<—-those aren’t carrots with them onions, be careful;o)
After more bebidas frías – horchata, jamaica & mexican soda (real sugar) – my tacos were ready, as well as the burritos and tortas ordered by my cohort. One look at the tacos and we knew this was the right spot – tiny, street tortillas bulging with meat, onion & cilantro; fully authentic, and deliciously juicy. We ended up utilizing the salsa bar to its full extent, habaneros & all, and going back for seconds. . .and thirds. . .for a total of ten tacos, a testament to their size as well as their deliciousness. Each taco was only $1.25, so these are more than worth the price. The meat was awesome, the food was great and it gives one a glimpse into life en la calle. For Taco’s El Patio, it would be worth driving 7 miles off the freeway, but luckily the location is only one mile off the autopista. Eat and enjoy.