Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Road and Eating Tacos de Chicharron Prensado in Pasadena

"I want to take you to my favorite tacos of pressed chicharrones around here," is the loose translation of what our friend told us after she picked us up from the Los Angeles International Airport last week. To live in a town where you can say that is envious. A town where tacos, I believe, have been known to grow on trees. But there are many things about LA that are not enviable in the least, and I love Denver for what it is--and one of those is that it is not all that big. The downfall of course is I have never once picked someone up from the airport in Denver and said those words that our friend said so naturally that day.

Again, I readily sacrifice a few tacos here and there for my good living in my small-town, but fried-smashed-and-fried again pork skins is something of a fetish of mine. In hindsight, re-reading this post years down the road, I might think to myself that I should have replaced "fetish" with some other, less sexual and creepy word to describe my affinity for these pig hides, but I can't think of a better way to put it at the moment. In Denver I often enjoy this style of swine in my savory Salvadorean pupusas, and I always like it very much, but I would have to think hard back to some streetside vendor in Mexico City to think of a time that I had them scooped onto a warm corn tortilla and sprinkled with cilantro, onion and a spicy salsa.

Our friend lives in the relative quiet of Pasadena, not far, yet-oh-so-very-far--from the bustle of LA. "Taqueria" was not the first thing I had in mind when I booked our trip to Pasadena, much less ones that serve things like cabeza and chicarrones prensados. Yet there we were, just an hour or so from deboarding, ordering a plateful of not only steamy head meat and sizzling pork skins, but also more common taco meats like carnitas and chorizo con papas. Four of them and a drink for under six bucks.

Though sizzling, technically, they were not. In what I will chalk up to practicality for anticipation of a lunchtime rush, the meat, rather than being grilled to order was rather in warming trays behind the counter, not unlike some no-need-to-name burrito chain that us Denverites know oh-too-well.

Despite this school-lunch-counter-like service my chicharron tacos were wonderful. They packed a respectable amount of heat even without the very good red salsa, and were overflowing with pork flavor: Mushy, greasy and fried pork flavor in that order. I had two for good measure.

The cabeza in my opinion was even better than the chicharron. Likely because this already tender meat is served well is this hot-tray format. Whatever the case, it was damn good. The carnitas and chorizo con papa were not particularly memorable, but were good tacos nonetheless.

Out back was the Taquito Mexicano Taco Truck, somewhat of a notorious truck in the LA-area I later learned. I also hear that they grill to order, so that should by definition make it all even better.

I didn't have time to go taco hunting in LA--that wasn't the point of our trip at least. But the point clearly illustrated to me that day was that LA, as I have always known, has tacos oozing from its traffic-clogged, sun-drenched, palm-tree laden pores. And another point, or technically question: Does anyone have any recommendations for chicharron prensados in Denver? Please let me know. Please El Taquito Mexicano 2 on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

  1. Living in North Hollywood, we were spoiled with cheap tacos from trucks on a number of nearby streets. Now living in SE Denver (within city limits), we miss those dining opportunities. In Denver, there's not much overlap between gringo neighborhoods with gringo food trucks (priced accordingly), and non-gringo neighborhoods with diverse options but not near us...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love it! I have no doubt that this will make the cut for the book, personally i like horchatas, as well, which is not too sweet, really nice cinamon flavor.
    you can any ways check out some of my favorite tacos recipes from food network


    Live Jazz in edmonton

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  3. I have tried the Tacos de Chicharon and it'simply heaven. The pork rind and its flavors are just too awesome to describe!

    ReplyDelete

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