The Unvegan

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10 Years of Unvegan
A Quick Bite at Burrito Express
Serendipity at Northern Waters Smokehaus
Twerks and Burritos at Casa Amigos

‘Al Pastor’

Arizona Taco Fest 2017

Just look for the guy with the stereotypical Mexican hat.

We can all agree that Phoenix is not LA. Good, now that that’s settled, Phoenix does appear to get an event or two on occasion, and the first since I made the big move was the 8th Annual Arizona Taco Festival, which converged at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. While the place is better-known for MLB spring training, the vast field was put to good use in hosting dozens of vendors pushing mostly tacos, but also drinks, desserts and the occasional t-shirt.

Casa Rasta at Last (CLOSED)

It's like Jamaica and Mexico in one.
It’s like Jamaica and Mexico in one.

EDIT: This location is extinct, but there’s another in Beechview if you want to go alllll the way out there.

After two failed attempts to pay a visit to Casa Rasta due to inaccurate hours posted online, I finally made it there. I was expecting a quick in and out fast casual sort of place, but was surprised when I found it to be an eat-in sort of place instead. The menu was full of things I would have wanted to eat, but my stomach is only so big.

Master Al Pastor at Leo’s Taco Truck

Love them spools of meat.
Love them spools of meat.

If you could have one final meal in LA that truly represents the city, what would you choose? Umami Burger? Korean BBQ? Some sort of Asian fusion? Anything with avocado in it? Seeing as I had eaten Umami the night before, for me it was a taco truck. You see, taco trucks just might represent LA better than any other food purveyor. Their mobility is all-important in a city that relies so much on cars. Their Mexican dishes feel perfectly at home in a place that was once Mexico and is chock-full of Mexican heritage. And their relatively low barrier to entry provides a great opportunity in a city that brings new opportunists in every day. For my last meal in LA, I chose Leo’s Taco Truck.

A Slap of Awesome at Mexicali

Look for this sign. Now.
Look for this sign. Now.

Once upon a time there was a little taco stand in downtown LA called Mexicali. For unknown reasons, they had to shut down, which was very upsetting to me considering I hadn’t yet tried their supposedly amazing food. Yet, after some time they opened up a brick and mortar near Chinatown that I just had to get to. And now that I’ve been, I can safely say that anyone who hasn’t been needs to go. Like as soon as possible.

Taco Time at Los Paisas (CLOSED)

Not to be confused with países.
Not to be confused with países.

Ever since starting my job in Torrance, one of my coworkers has not stopped talking about the tacos at Los Paisas. Finally, we made our way there so I could see what he was always yammering about. I quickly found out that Los Paisas was more than just a restaurant, it was also a bakery and mini-market. As good as multiple identities are, though, all I cared about was tacos.

Tacos Por Favor, Please

Por supuesto.

Santa Monica doesn’t exactly have a reputation for good food. And what reputation it does have usually tends to lean on the upscale. But reputation alone does not simply make a city, and Santa Monica actually has a surprising number of little gems hidden in its nooks and crannies. One of these, I had heard, was Tacos Por Favor.

Yet, aside from actually hearing of Tacos Por Favor, I hadn’t really been told what was good on their menu, so when I arrived and found a vast menu full of nearly every Mexican dish I had ever heard of, I was in trouble.

A Little Local at Casita Taco al Carbon

What’s the deal with this lettuce?

Well I needed something in walking distance and I wanted something good. Not knowing what I would find, I took a walk down Magnolia Boulevard and stopped at the first Mexican place I found. It was called Casita Taco al Carbon and had the look of something awesome. I took a while deciding what to order, as I often do when visiting a Mexican place for the first time. I never know what’s going to be the best, whether it be a burrito, taco or something more interesting. Since the name of the place had “taco” in it, I figured that would be a good place to start.