So when I went to California last month I spent that Friday night eating tacos with old New York friends, old college friends, and old friends who went to college the same time as me but I didn't meet until after college.
Cher was kind enough to pick me up and we pre-gamed at an East LA roadside stand known as "the Taco Man".
Went in kinda light with two real nice tacos al pastor because I had an idea of what was ahead of me. But what a beautiful way to start.
Next we headed to south central to eat in the parking lot of a used tire store. Here we met up with the rest of our party, who I guess I don't have any pictures of yet.
I had a carne asada taco and a carne asada vampiro-a vampiro being a crisped tortilla with cheese melted on top of it, then the rest of your taco stuff on top of that.
This was a real chill and special place. I'd like to come back sometime before the sun sets, order myself a few plates of food, campout and make a night of it.
Then we went around the corner and down the block to try out the Tortas Estillo DF Torta Wagon. Word was this was the place in LA to grab a Torta Cubana and, well, you know I always want my friends to know about Cubanas.
Oh here we go, some of our characters.
In that beanie: Former New Yorker Jenn, who I hadn't seen for a good number of years. Left hat: That's Keith, I get to see him every now and then. On the right: There's Cher, I'm fortunate to see her with a kind of regularity.
Watching them griddle up the Cubanas.
The finished product. Pretty dope. They had a lot of different giant Tortas by a lot of different national names, some of them tempted me with their ingredient combinations, but for a first visit, to the Cubana I had to be true.
Pals having a laugh and trying to figure out how to eat their giant sandwiches. That hat on the right, that's Jared. He was in town for a family gathering or something.
After tortas we headed up to Leo's Tacos, a place I already know and love. I feel like it's the easy answer and that my experience is limited, but for the time being, this is my favorite taco spot in LA. I like the energy, I love the food, and I like the sense of "local taco truck hitting it big" there.
Tossed back another couple Tacos al Pastor. On one bite I caught a little extra grease sliding off the tortilla as I was pulling the taco from my mouth and, when the flavor it my tongue, in my mind I was all "Oh yeah, that's what I like." That's what I like! The right kind of taco meat grease!
I didn't realize I was taking pictures of Keith and Jared over and over. Where's Chaz? Where's Mike? I don't know! I was too busy taking pictures of Keith and Jared!
Cool how they've got these Burger King trash cans there.
One last glance at Leo.
One last stop: Drove up the street to El Chato, it was my first visit. I got their famed chicken quesadilla, I could only manage to take a few bites then but it was a great treat for my flight home to New York a couple of days later. Funny how El Chato is less than a mile up the road but the scene is totally different. Lot more people who are out on the town.
Then we wrapped up the night with a visit to SK Donuts, a magnificent 24hr donut establishment we had stumbled upon a year before.
I got a maple bar because they'd just come out from the kitchen and they tossed in a couple of donut holes with it. This is just how things are at SK's.
Oh, finally. Chaz.
So it was a great late and long night of tacos and stuff. This is the way to live. Rolling around with your pals, eating and talking and laughing. (photo borrowed from Jenn's Instagram)
It's very worth mentioning that High School friend Lucas had given me the scoop on Taco Man, the tire shop, and Tortas DF. He's written about the last two for Eater here and here. Check it out! He says more than I did and you can figure out the addresses from his post if you want to visit yourself and don't feel like googling "tire store tacos Los Angeles".