Taco-obsessed Angelenos came together this weekend at LA Weekly‘s Tacolandia, an annual taco festival curated by Bill Esparza, the man and mouth behind food blog Street Gourmet LA. Since twice as many vendors participated in this year’s festival than last, we asked Esparza to give us a rundown of awesome Tacolandia participants—all of them first-timers to the fest—who proved that they should be on any taco obsessive’s short list, alongside old favorites like Kogi and Guisados.
Here are 7 Tacolandia newbies Esparza thinks you should be on your radar. (Warning: one requires a flight to Monterrey, Mexico—but that shouldn’t deter you.)
La Embajada: taco de cabrito en salsa
Guillermo Gonzalez (of Pangea) and Juan Carlos Santana are the geniuses behind Monterrey’s La Embajada. Their extraordinary taco de cabrito en salsa features a deeply flavored stew of braised young goat in a smoky salsa made from Bocanegra beer. What else would you expect from Gonzalez, Mexico’s first Modern-Mexican chef?
Burritos La Palma: birria de res burrito
Burritos La Palma caused a huge upset in its first-ever appearance at Tacolandia when it received the Vendy award for the “Best Traditional Taco” (burritos are tacos!). La Palma’s burrito of rich birria de res, or beef in a birria sauce, comes in a delicious homemade flour tortilla stained with the reddish-brown sauce. This burrito is one of the best bites anywhere. (Photo: Bill Esparza)
Trejo’s Tacos: fried Jidori chicken taco
Actor Danny Trejo’s much-anticipated Trejo’s Tacos made its debut at Tacolandia. Trejo is so cool he got to use his own name, Machete, when he starred as a pocho superhero in Michael Mann’s Heat. Trejo’s served a crispy fried-chicken taco that’s so good, I think Trejo could quit his day job.
All Flavor No Grease (quesadillas)
Keith Garrett of All Flavor No Grease was so excited to be at Tacolandia that he didn’t sleep the night before the event. He performed like a pro, wining the hearts of festivalgoers with his famous flavor-loaded quesadillas and showmanship.
Chef Priscilla Curiel dressed her Taco Janitzio to impress: it features smoked longaniza sausage and Oaxacan cheese topped with pickled vegetables, chile de arbol salsa, and peanuts on a blue corn tortilla. Curiel served an original taco made especially for Tacolandia—pretty special, if you ask us. (Photo: Twitter/chefpriscilla86)
We always have delicious mole at Tacolandia, and this year, first-timers Las Molenderas graced us with their mouthwatering mole poblano tacos. This family-run taqueria in Boyle Heights is what Tacolandia is all about: highlighting small businesses that we love. (Photo: Yelp)
There are just a handful of taco stars on the Westside (and they were all at Tacolandia). If you live west of the 405, Oaxaca on Wheels should absolutely be on your radar. At Tacolandia, Oaxaca on Wheels dished out straightforward steak tacos that were popular with festivalgoers. One of L.A.’s top Oaxacan food trucks was a welcome addition to this year’s event. (Photo: Twitter/@oaxacaonwheels)