With my somewhat-quarterly-trips to Forest Lawn during the past year (to make up for being a negligent grandson all these years), I decided to give myself a goal to scope out a new restaurant to try near the Hollywood Hills area, somewhere I normally wouldn’t drive to due to distance. The first place I tried under the new initiative was Jinya in Studio City, and that proved to be successful. This time around, I headed east to Eagle Rock, since I never go to Eagle Rock.
After looking at my lists of to-dine places (not only do I have an actual list, I have multiples), it was basically down to CaCao and Larkin’s. But once I started researching the former and the words “duck carnitas” appeared, it was game over. I kept reading about CaCao during the days leading up to my visit, and was mesmerized by their wide selections of authentic and unique Mexican dishes, in particular their tacos. Duck confit (the “duck carnitas”) and duck skin? Drool and drool – I mean, drool^2.
It was cold and wet at 11am that Saturday morning (it rained that weekend two weeks ago here in L.A.), but once you step in, it became warm and cozy. The interior looked like a cool Mexican Starbucks of sorts, and you order at the counter that is in right in front of you went you enter (FYI: there are two doors – enter the right one. Left one is a flower shop). There’s even a deli counter of sorts where you can buy various stuff like sauces, etc. If I was a hipster Mexican and lived in Eagle Rock, this would definitely be my hangout place.
Having read up on the place before arriving, I had an idea of what I wanted to order. They do, however, have a chalkboard of daily specials, one of them being sea urchin tacos. Uni tacos? Drool^2 x2. I was also tempted by many other things on the menu, including the breakfast items that I saw on some tables. But I was determined to try their tacos. I decided to order three tacos – the duck confit, the duck skin, and the cochinita pibil. Since it was a cold day, I also ordered a hot cacao (chocolate). Then I grabbed my number and took the last available table inside.
While waiting for my tacos (food can take some time here apparently, but *spoiler* worth the wait), I took my time with the hot chocolate. I really liked it. Not too sweet, and a bit nutty and spicy. Really nice on a cold day. Then the tacos came, all on one plate. Working my way from right to left, I attacked the duck confit first. This was something that was on Jonathan Gold’s 10 Best Dishes of 2010 list, so obviously expectations were high. And all of those expectations were met. So good! Then I proceeded on to the duck skin and cochinita ones. Really good! But I should’ve went left-to-right…
I expected the duck confit to be fattier, because of the preparation. But it really did live up to the name of duck carnitas, as it had a pulled pork consistency, but was able to maintain that duck fatty flavor I love so much. Why can’t more tacquerias serve duck tacos? The duck skin was obviously a slight letdown after the duck confit, but was still good. Wish there was more of the skin though. And I knew I would like the cochinita pibil, since I do love pulled pork in general, and this one was good. But it was basically a poor man’s version of the duck confit…
Because I loved it so much, I ordered another duck taco to-go (I was possessed by fatty Hei, but managed to fight him off and save this for dinner that night), as well as the wild boar one (which the nice guy at the counter recommended, along with the oxtail one – trying that next time). The wild boar one wasn’t gamey at all, but had a bit of a rough consistency with it being grounded. Still good though. I like how most of the tacos (and I’m sure this extends to their sopes and burritos as well) have some variety ingredient-wise from option-to-option. They beg to be tried.
They are a bit more expensive than normal tacos, but the quality and taste more than makes up for it. Each of the corn tortillas are homemade. A bit thicker than normal ones, they were the perfect vessels for the various fillings. After my lunch, I had told a few friends that these were arguably the best tacos I’ve had in years. I can safely say that these were some of the best tacos I’ve EVER had. I will definitely be back to CaCao to try more of their extensive menu (like the chile rellenos that Jonathan Gold also raved about) – and ordering a few duck tacos to-go.
Hot Cacao ($3.95) – Oaxacan cacao with cane sugar, cinnamon, & almonds.
Left: Cochinita Pibil Taco ($3.25) – smoked pork in achiote, citrus, & Yucatan spices. Topped w/ sour red onions & cilantro.
Middle: Chicharron de Pato Taco ($3.25) – fried duck skin, cabbage, radish, onion, cilantro & salsa verde.
Right: Carnitas de Pato Taco ($3.79) – duck confit, avocado, vinegar onion, radishes, chile oil.
Left: Wild Boar Chorizo Verde Taco ($4.49) – ground boar, Mexican spices, avocado, pico de gallo.
Right: Carnitas de Pato Taco
Chris Hei grade: A-
1576 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041