Working late makes those creative juices flow and brings the hunger on...then...the craving for Al Pastor hits.
Al Pastor means shephards style. The best Al Pastor is a rendition of spit fired spiced beef perfection that is tender and moist, crispy soft on the edges, complex with notes of numerous spices and flavors. Unfortunately the worst is a greasy mess that can range in flavor from chorizo to bbq sauce.
My mission is straightforward--go out there and find the ultimate in the domain of Al Pastor. Some people believe the popular standard in the genre is the King Taco Al Pastor. While indulging in a burrito from King Taco at 3 AM after a long night of drinking is certainly an LA tradition in many parts of this town, it is akin to a burger from in and out.... Good and dependable, at times very good, but not absolutely great. With that..I start:
--Carnitas Michoacan--North Broadway--the bright yellow stand north of chinatown heading to Lincoln Heights...that, as its name implies, has good carnitas. Had an Al Pastor Burrito. Unexpectedly decently good. Good flavored meat, notes of cloves tasted in the meat. The burrito suffers from a bad tortilla which is too dry and from too much rice and beans in the mix. So I went back and got an all meat burrito...and it was still just decent because the meat was overpowering--the balance of flavors just isnt there. This place gets additional points for its excellent smoky salsa and the good horchata--a big ol cup for 1.85---
--Hugos Tacos. Started off on 1st and Downey Rd. in East LA--Now relocated to 3rd and Indiana in East LA. VEry Good Al pastor. Good flavor, good chop and nice chile heat. The appropriately small corn tortillas and the grilled onions it comes with make the little things a must try. Note: The meat here is not spit roasted so it has more of a stewed texture which makes the meat incredibly moist.
What are places that should be tried? What makes al pastor great in your opinion? There are a great number of fly by night operations that I want to try and catalogue and report on. Thats it. Until Next time...See ya.