Ah, street tacos, how I love thee.
As I start packing up my room here, I’m feeling nostalgic about Los Angeles. I’ll miss the ocean, with the lush canyons beside them and the mountains further east. I’ll miss the fact that I never have to look at the weather because it’s always between 70 and 80 and always sunny. I’ll miss the sun, too — I think I’ve genuinely been happier here because of it. I’ve never felt so consistently content, and I think the constant Vitamin D has a lot to do with it.
I’ll miss sitting on my bed with both windows open, with sunlight and a breeze floating in: my happy place.
I’ll miss Little Tokyo, the Japanese enclave a few blocks from my work, with its green tea-flavored pastries and sushi shops and a supermarket full of interesting things. I’ll miss the blocks of Jewish grocery stores and restaurants down the street from my house, with Hebrew letters and “glatt kosher” labeled in front. I’ll miss the LA Times — the people I work with are incredibly funny and talented, and they make me feel like they have accepted me as one of them.
But most of all, I’ll miss street tacos.
I first discovered street tacos outside of the American Apparel warehouse in downtown LA. I never really liked American Apparel — I realized recently it’s because I actually love their clothes but feel like I have to be a model to wear them (that’s just the impression the brand gives) so I feel slightly insecure shopping there — but I decided to check it out because a) I thought it would be interesting to see where clothes were made, and b) I heard it had a discount shop for all the overstock and defects.
Sidenote: I left with a new respect for the company. There’s something to be said about walking past people, clearly many Spanish-speaking immigrants, who are checking in for work to make the shirt that I ended up buying. For all the hype about farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants, you’d think people would be more appreciative of locally made clothing, but I think it’s just so rare in the U.S. that there aren’t really even opportunities to appreciate it. So kudos to AA for sticking with it.
Anyway, outside of the warehouse was a food truck — not a hip foodie food truck, but a very authentic en-Español food truck. I ordered a taco con pollo, which came with a giant lime wedge and fresh radish slices for a whopping $1.25 — fresh chicken, piled high with fresh onions and cilantro, and a perfectly fresh mini tortilla. It was, needless to say, one of those defining food-gasmic moments that I analyze for months, if not years, to come (see my yogurt rant for a similar analysis).
A few nights ago, my friend/roommate Grace and I discovered a taco truck that parks, every night, a half mile or so from my house. It has no sign or name on its side, but it does have an all-you-can-pile-on-your-taco toppings bar in front, so that you can go crazy with your pico de gallo and spicy avocado salsa. I can’t believe I found it so late in the game. I’ve made it my mission to eat there as often as possible before I leave.
Southern California and Mexico are intertwined in many ways, so it makes sense that much of the Mexican food here is authentic. Does this exist in other places? Keep an eye out for street tacos in your city, and report back if you find them!