After a long hike from the subway stop at Chapultepec to Condessa looking for a little nightlife in DF I happened upon El Tizoncito, Los creadores del taco al pastor(the creators of tacos al pastor).Mexico City really goes to sleep on Sunday night.I found only a few popular bars open to libate before running into the original El Tizoncito.Sort of knew where I was going but was on foot.It was a goal on this DF trip to check out some al pastor, good friend Kaire Raisu was down for the count on this Sunday in Mexico City and wouldn't be able to get a taste 'til the next day.
I hadn't had much luck with al pastor over the years, ususally dissapointed with the underwhelming favorites in LA,and not always having luck in other parts of Mexico either.My previous best had been in Cananea, Sonora.I stood by and watched a guy load his trompo(spit) during one afternoon in Leon, and came back excited later that evening only to taste some very average tacos.But, this is El Tizoncito, the creators of one of the top two tacos in all of Mexico, and one of the most loved tacos worldwide.
As I eagerly awaited my first crack at these things I ordered a Montejo beer, and struck up a conversation with the non-pastor taquero named Natividad. He spoke proudly of their prized tacos de pastor, only occasionally distracted by the film "Chiquito pero Peligroso"(Little Man from the Wayan's Brothers).I love the over the top translations.This movie completely blows, but the taqueros and meseros didn't mind a little potty humor and physical comedy de los hermanos Wayans while they tacoed away.Just like that pint-sized criminal posing as a baby in the Wayan's Brothers movie, the tacos at El Tizoncito are small but dangerously tasty.
The El Tizoncito in Condessa was started by Dona Conchita in 1966 along with her sons.Lebanese immigrants in Puebla had already invented tacos arabes, and these same immigrants in DF were already using the spit to make their shawarma. The evolution took place in this part of Mexico and probably involved several phases, but El Tizoncito was the first to put tacos al pastor in their current form on the map.Not to be confused with the earlier cabrito al pastor from Nuevo Leon(whole butterflied roasted kid).The lamb so adored by the Lebanese immigrants gave way to the more Mexican taste for pork,an unstated agreement regarding ingredients in marinades developed,and the rest is history.
Well, I was a captive audience watching these tacos go down. First, El Tizoncito use only quality lomo(loin) for their pastor, the marinade is all from scratch.On the trompo there are always three whole onions to form the base of support for the meat.A pineapple attached atop the spit gracefully flicked by the knife of the taquero where its circus like journey ends onto tortilla.The tortillas are the mini sized, which allows for a few slices of succulent al pastor to reveal their beauty.The tender pork is sliced thin leaving a well manicured round of meat.Onions and cilantro are generously applied, and that al pastor is supple to the touch. I've had it thin sliced before but usually dry, or flavorless.Listen up LA taqueros.The al pastor meat never touched the griddle at the bottom of the trompo.From trompo to tortilla to client.The ones I had in Cananea met all these criterion, but El Tizoncito's were better.
The taqueros are great and the show is part of their duty.Knives are sharpened constantly, this really isn't out of the ordinary unless your new to Mexico.Taqueros aren't just out to make a buck like stateside, they are skilled and dedicated people.I saw the same speed, accuracy, and execution at the Coyoacan branch where KR got his al pastor fix the next day.
The salsas served from an attractive tower were excellent, best of all the frijoles.
El Tizoncito isn't the best taco al pastor in DF, a city so densely packed with stands, taquerias, and every other delivery method imaginable.But, they are a benchmark that all who love tacos al pastor should know if given the chance.It's impossible with so many al pastor choices in DF to even have a clue.The two others I had in DF, one in Xochimilco which was solid, another near Mercado Sonora which was average were far better than what I've come across in LA.Every neighborhood has their favorites, and someone knows of someplace around the corner which you can't seem to find(this actually happened), and there are places that disappear and surface elsewhere.I'm ready to find better and equivalents but now have a standard by which all future tacos de pastor that come my way shall be evaluated. You could go mad searching for the best, but have a couple of these small but distinctively flavored tacos al pastor.Order a beer, watch the pineapple chunks fly, and discover why los tacos El Tizoncito son chiquitos pero peligrosos!
Condessa,D.F(original location at Tamaulipas and Campeche)
At various locations in DF, Chiapas,Estado de Mexico, Jalisco,Morelos, Nuevo Leon,Queretaro,Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi,and Yucatan.
My sideways El Tizoncito video