Tacolandia (2013)


Tacolandia @ Hollywood Palladium Parking Lot
6/23/13 – 12-5pm
6215 W Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

I am currently 5 lbs. heavier and having trouble breathing while lying on the floor, and yet I regret nothing I’ve done (or eaten) today at LA Weekly’s 1st annual Tacolandia, a food festival focusing on tacos held at the Hollywood Palladium parking lot, and curated by Bill Esparza, Mr. Street Gourmet LA himself. 3 hours in and 30 things tried later, I can safely say that Tacolandia was a roaring success. For ONLY $20 (or even less if tickets were bought from Gilt City), a taco lover can grub on offerings by ~30 restaurants/food trucks. The Offalo was more than generous to offer me his extra ticket (because the event had sold out quick – buy tickets EARLY next year!) – thanks so much Peter! Below are some photos of the food I tried earlier today (except Mexicali, and the 3-4 stands I missed out on):

Bistro LQ: Rabbit Green Mole Taco

Bistro LQ: Rabbit Liver Taco

Bistro LQ – Rabbit Green Mole Taco, Rabbit Liver Taco

Chef Laurent actually had multiple variations of tacos available during the festival (including “FG” for those who knew the secret password), but these 2 rabbit-based tacos were very good. The rabbit in green mole was very traditional in execution and flavor, with the pulled rabbit meat being ever-so-tender. The rabbit liver, on the other hand, was very interesting, not unlike chicken liver.

Bizarra Capital

Bizarra Capital

I totally forgot what this was, but it was solid – as expected from Chef Ricardo (formerly of Guisados).

CaCao Mexicatessen: Beef Cheek Taco w/ Cipollini Onion, Radish, Chives

CaCao Mexicatessen – Beef Cheek Taco

I actually told them that I was disappointed in not having duck or suckling pig carnitas, or uni, but the beef cheek didn’t disappoint.

Chichen Itza: Lechon (Suckling Pig) Taco

Chichen Itza – Lechon Taco

Straightforward, but delicious. One of the first things I ate today, and still held up as one of the best in the end. I got a super-fatty piece of the suckling pig, which was deliciously paired with the nice piece of chicharron.

Coni'Seafood: Smoked Marlin Taco

Coni’Seafood – Smoked Marlin Taco

The swordfish was smoky and juicy, the latter which was a pleasant surprise. One of my favorites today.

Flor Del Rio: Birria Taco

Flor Del Rio – Birria Taco

Solid execution of the birria, which was a pleasure to see here (since I haven’t had it in a while).

George's at the Cove: Cured Snapper, Achiote, Cilantro, Pineapple Salsa, Cabbage, CA Avocado

George’s at the Cove (San Diego) – Cured Snapper Taco

The real surprise of the day. George’s is a fine-dining restaurant in San Diego with its share of accolades, and this proved to be a smart and sophisticated dish, great for the hot and humid weather. Snapper was nicely cured (with achiote), and I liked the little touch with the piece of fried skin.

Guerrilla Tacos: Grass-Fed Beef Tongue Taco

Guerrilla Tacos – Beef Tongue Taco

Glad I got to try Guerrilla at the festival, since I will never make it to Handsome Coffee during a regular weekday. The grass-fed beef tongue was really well-cooked here.

Le Guerrerense: (top) Uni Tostada, (bottom) Smoked Yellowtail Pate Tostada

La Guerrerense Again

La Guerrerense (Baja California) – Uni & Smoked Yellowtail Pate Tostadas, Smoked Yellowtail Pate & Pismo Clam Tostadas

Here it was, my most-anticipated stop of the day, arguably the most-acclaimed participant at the festival, and it lived up to all my expectations…and more. On a day filled with great performances like this year’s NBA Finals, Le Guerrerense just LeBron’d the competition. Smoked yellowtail pate? Tell me that’s not genius. And those salsas? Amazing!

Tacos Leo: Al Pastor Taco

Leo’s Taco Truck – Tacos Al Pastor

The trompo was out in broad daylight, ready to shut all the detractors up – it really does make a difference.

Loterial Grill: Taco Dulce

Loteria Grill – Taco Dulce

Missed out on their savory offering earlier in the day, and instead tried this dessert taco – basically a churro taco with mango and pineapple. It was okay.

Mariscos Jalisco: Shrimp Taco Dorado

Mariscos Jalisco – Shrimp Taco Dorado

Quite possibly the most beloved taco truck at the festival, and it also lived up to the hype. The lines here were among the longest of the day, and the shrimp tacos dorados were indeed worth the wait.

Mo-Chica/Picca/Paiche: Pork Belly Chicharron Taco

Mo-Chica/Picca/Paiche – Pork Belly Chicharron Taco

Kind of surprising to see the Peruvian empire doing tacos, but they turned out to be both true to the traditional taco form, as well as exhibit the signature Peruvian flavors that Chef Ricardo is known for.

Rocio's Mole de los Dioses: (top) Chicken Mole Taco, (bottom) Carnitas Taco

Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses – Chicken Mole & Carnitas Tacos

The mole of the Gods that most in LA pray to, serving tacos that were very straightforward. They were pretty good, but I don’t think that the offering truly showed off what the restaurant can do.

SoHo Taco: Lobster Taco

SoHo Taco (OC) – Lobster Taco

Probably had the longest line throughout the festival – has to be the lobster. Props to SoHo for being one of 2 stands to freshly press their tortillas (Taqueria Los Anaya being the other), and more props for them being blue corn. And the lobster? Pretty good too ;)

Sol Mexican Cucina: Goat Cheese Tostada

Sol Mexican Cucina (OC) – Goat Cheese Tostada

One of the participants I wasn’t familiar with coming into today, Sol served a goat cheese tostada that was rather refreshing, but a bit too sweet for me.

Spirit House: Chashu Taco

Spirit House – Chashu Taco

The Asian representative of the festival, the chashu taco was actually much more traditional-looking and tasting than I expected.

Tacos Arabes de Puebla

Tacos Arabes de Puebla – Taco Arabe

Taco arabe, which means “Arab-style taco,” was described to me as being similar to al pastor, which makes sense since Middle Eastern cuisine uses the spit as well. Instead of a corn tortilla, what you have here was a flour tortilla that was almost pita-like. Nice touch of presenting different types of herbs to pick yourself for the tacos.

Tacos Kokopelli: Kraken Taco

Tacos Kokopelli (Baja California) – Kraken Taco

We got to see the pulpo (octopus) in action on the grill while waiting in line for La Guerrerense, and man, did it look delicious a la plancha. Tasted as good as it looked, too. A variation of this is available at Petty Cash Taqueria (where they consulted on the menu), and I look forward to trying this there as well.

Tacos Punta Cabras: Bay Scallop Taco w/ Uni

Tacos Punta Cabras – Bay Scallop & Uni Taco

I am very familiar with the tacos from TPC, and this offering would be fitting as one of their daily specials. As good as expected.

Taqueria Los Anaya: "Turbo-Charged" Chicken Taco

Taqueria Los Anaya – “Turbo-Charged” Chicken Taco

Taqueria Los Anaya, for the day, was doing business as “Dos Bros”- in accordance to promoting Dreamworks’ movie “Turbo” (very…interesting of a collaboration between a big studio and a local taco truck). Anyways, the chicken taco was fine, but nothing to be “turbo-charged” about. But I did appreciate the freshly-pressed tortillas.

I obviously thought everything was good for the day, but if I had to choose, these would be my favorites (I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, and it just might happen, as I might have a different answer the next time I reflect on this):

Chris Hei’s All-Tacolandia 1st Team:

Chichen Itza
George’s at the Cove
La Guerrerense
Mariscos Jalisco
SoHo Taco

Big thanks again to Bill, LA Weekly, and especially to all the participating restaurants/trucks today!

6 thoughts on “Tacolandia (2013)

  1. Fabulous write-up! Truly appreciate your pics since I am having a hard time remembering which was which. I agree with your favorites, although unlike you, I truly enjoyed the sweetness of the Sol Mexican Cucina Goat Cheese taco – very different.

    1. Thanks Lisa!!!

      I actually liked the idea for that taco, just felt that it was a bit too much so for me…

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