Restaurants & Bars 9

Tacos El Gordo (National City) [Split from LA carne asada thread]

CulverJack | Jun 19, 2012 05:22 PM

So - I finally made it to Tacos El Gordo in National City, the rec from the OP.

Great place, I'm glad I went (it was about a 15-20 minute trek from where I was working that day in Clairmont on Balboa). This was for lunch a couple of weeks ago. My friend wouldn't stop with "Do you know how many taco places are between here and there?? Are you sure you want to go that far?". But he's not the freak I am (or just about anyone reading this post is, for that matter). It wasn't that hard to calm him down.

Good sized place, and when you walk in there are 3-4 different spots to stand at a long counter offering up different tacos. I haven't seen this before, but the menu is posted above each, so it's pretty easy to flow with this. I ordered 2 asada tacos, 1 cabeza, and 1 pastor.

The asada was very good, grilled and fairly thin, very tender, almost to the point of flaky. I say "flaky" since that's how it seemed. Like when a brisket or short rib is cooked hard in a braise, and a part is left out of the liquid so that the connective tissue is completely gone and it is flaky. Not dry, really, since a lot of the connective tissue went into the meat, but sort of crumbly. Was it skirt? Was it flank? No way to know. It was, however, very salty. Noticably so. I had one taco at the start, and one at the end, to make sure I was ending with the asada. Definitely salty, more so than beefy in the end.

The pastor was good - definitely done right on with a little slice of pineapple if I recall fully and a nice creamy salsa on it which complemented the pork. Definitely "right", though I wouldn't say it was the best ever. Cabeza good too, chunky, tender and fatty. Neither of these were salty, just the asada.

This place is clearly good. I would definitely go if I was in the area. I'm glad to have another spot in my arsenal for SD. But way better than where I go regularly here? Or even "better" in any real sense? I have to say no, not to me. As good? Maybe so, since the idea of the "stations" was good and just about everything I had was solid. Why just "as good"? For comparison, I've made 2 trips to Tacomiendo since (always great) and one to Pinches where the meat was definitely juicy and completely beefy. The meat at Pinche's is definitely a cut above El Gordo quality wise. This is pure beef. To me, Tacomiendo wins not for the meat per se, but for the package with the salsas, escabeche, and fresh tortillas, along with good, solid asada. I probably sound like a broken record always pimping the same 2 joints. These are my haunts - what can I say? I know them well, and I think we're pretty lucky to have them.

Will I complain if I'm banished someday to another city (could happen if I remain snide and insufferable) that there is no good asada in that particular burgh and am searching forlornly for a spot as good as Tacomiendo? God, I hope not.

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