For the longest time I thought this was a community-based kitchen run by the local church, and perhaps it was, but Antonio Garcia has made an enticing destination within a good brisk walk from our place*.
A wide patio slouches under a white metal awning, bathed by eclectic music. Inside--and I mean inside only in the sense of a tiny closet-sized space that's not the kitchen and not the patio--little chalkboards on every wall detail what the kitchen offers. They aren't speedy here, but homely and sincere.
Let me introduce you to these four horsemen of the Scoville apocalypse. Not all these salsas are hot, but each is thick and full of personality. The pea-green is mild with a little bite, good for chicken tacos. The zesty green is thick with cilantro and snappy like a pushy mother-in-law. Red is your basic tasty, murky tomato, spicy favorite.
The orange one... the orange one smells like bell pepper and pretends to be your friend, but it is not your friend. It kicks your dog and hurts your feelings and leaves you wishing you hadn't drunk all your horchata.
After hurting myself with the salsas I close my eyes and dive into this. The Carnitas taco is insanely moist and ambrosial, fatty and finger-glistening. Even the wax paper is stained dark. The carnitas gives La Luz Del Dia on Olvera Street a serious run for its money, and makes you want to walk across the parking lot to the Iglesia de Cristo Elim and give thanks.
The burritos are full-bodied and bundled up in silver (Bianca: Things are so much better wrapped in foil!). The Fish Burrito is quite filling, tender and at peace with the lettuce and sour cream.
I like to go for things a little more bacon-colored; the Cochinita Pibil has a texture both like stewed chicken and chorizo, marinated with a slight citrusy sting, and drips auburn goodness onto the paper.
This is a huarache, named because of its similar shape to the sandal of the same name. The tortilla is a long crispy ellipse that is resistant to bending and chewing, and has a thick masa flavor rather than corn. The Al Pastor hidden beneath all that lettuce and cheese is singed like carne asada, fairly good if not thick with spice.
The Shrimp Quesadilla is really good. Really. Good. The shrimp is grilled and split apart, dark with seasoning, and almost sultry. If your typical bright pink cocktail shrimps are the society ladies of the crustacean world, this is more like the comfortable widow upstairs available for virginity-losing trysts. Bits of green pepper are buried within the thin layer of melted cheese.
On Saturdays Tarascos is open until three in the morning, which makes it quite alluring for those late-night post-bar medicinal visits, where such lurid shrimp similes make better sense.
* Less enticing is the post-lunch walk home, back up the Maltman hill.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park, Late Night/24 Hours )
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