The place is Tacos... Chulta? Chula? It's on Venice a smidge east of Sepulveda, in sight of the 405, on the north side of the street. In front of the Howard's Avocado Burger parking lot.
Their asada is decent.
Their al pastor is quite good. It's OK al pastor, but somehow combines very nicely with their other ingredients.
Their cabeza... their cabeza is glorious. Most cabeza I've had in this town is soft and long stewed. This is dried and slightly stringy, but moist - reminiscent of soft-fried carnitas, the kind that's suspended halfway between fluffy and drenched in fat. This cabeza isn't fatty though.
The flavor is - intense and evanescent and terribly hard to pin down. It's concentrated and meaty, its savoury, its beef-nectar-cotton-candy, it's essence de cheek, and it's got this down-and-smoky good thing going on. Like a good bit of pulled pork. It's been cooked *down*, it's intensified. It's beef-cheek haiku. Whatever.
Anyway, the first one I had was fantastic. Good toppings, good salsa marriage, and a really tasty set of tortillas. I mean, *nice* - fresh, corn-y, slightly chewy, just super-pleasant in the mouth, like, say, some fresh-made spaetzle or something. But when I got up and got a second one and told the lady how much I liked her cabeza - dude, the second one was glory. Maybe it was accident, maybe it was because I'd charmed her with my unslept hair-waving gibbering drooling attempt to explain how good her cabeza was, but the second one had the tortillas just a touch crispier than the first one - crispy and toasty on the outside, fresh and firm and moist on the inside, with little crispy air bubbles everywhere, and inside this soft, mound of barbecue-y cabeza beef essence stuff thing.
My friend Lennon said she was full after her three asada tacos ("I have such an honest relationship with you," she said to her third taco. "I want beef, and you're beef. You're so much better than boys") and she said that her stomach was twitchy if I made her eat any more, she was in danger of farting her way through the next work day. I told her, "Screw you, man, this is the best freaking taco I've ever had and YOU WILL have a goddamn bite."
She had a bite.
Anyway, luck, skill, whatever, it was a glorious taco.
There may be taco fillings I've had that are as good or maybe a smidge better - the carne asada at the best Alameda Swap Meet place comes to mind, and the carnitas in that place in San Diego under the bridge, the tortilla factory - but the gestalt, the whole thing - man.
It's either this, or the late night truck in East L.A. at the corner of 3rd and some highway, like the 710 or something. It's got a lot of glass and it's really clean and the asada brings crowds from eveywhere.
The first cabeza taco was damn good. The second cabeza taco was angelic.
Who knows if it'll ever happen again.
Maybe if I look real pretty for the taco lady.
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