Recession Obsession: Taco Crawling in Highland Park

Recession Obsession: Taco Crawling in Highland Park by Caleb Bacon
Chicken Taco, Pastor Taco at The Taco Table on York & Ave 56

The Official Recession has enveloped us for seventeen official months. It’s still no reason we can’t enjoy life. This is LA — we have a ton of inexpensive options! A Recession Obsession is truly fantastic, whether you've recently been downsized or are about to cash a large commission check. We last obsessed over Tacomiendo's meaty tacos, and Phillippe's classic french dip sandwiches. Today, we obsess...

Heading east on Highland Park's York Boulevard, The Girlfriend and I did something difficult. Sweat beading on our brows, we wiggled away from the tractor beam-like pull of El Huarache Azteca. This magnetic Recession Obsession has stolen our stomachs and hearts time after time (at only a few dollars a steal.)

A mere block from the huaracheria, standing hungry, we reached the first destination on the night’s To Eat list. A normal-looking taco truck called El Pique. To a non-Angeleno, driving to a seeming-roach coach in a self-car wash parking lot might seem three feet beyond absurd. Any Angeleno would suss out a mission for great friggin' tacos (or possibly score one’s next hit.)

A mile stretch of York Boulevard, featuring more than a handful of Taco Trucks and "Taco Tables" (taco stands on folding tables, a term used by the excellent blogger at Eat, Drink, & Be Merry,) comprises a wallet-friendly culinary zone some call Taco Town. It's a most LA experience, and the tacos run about $1 each. That’s why Highland Park’s Taco Town is LAist’s latest Recession Obsession.

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El Pique & La Estrella Taco Trucks | York Blvd & Ave 53, Ave 54 | 90042

El Pique, sporting a sign boasting they have chicken tacos, is wicked. Loved on blogs and Yelp, this taco truck is a destination in itself. Their juicy, flavor-dense pollo and pastor (marinated pork) tacos scratched an itch. Topped with the perfect amount of red chile sauce, onions, and cilantro, synergy rests on your plate, its colorful fragrance quickly meets your nose.

La Estrella is another notable taco truck. No chicken on the menu, this truck specializes in various parts of the pig and cow. As my gut was craving that which oinks, I ripped into their carnitas and pastor. Both satisfied at a depth that could’ve ended a weaker couple's taco crawl. Focusing, I restrained myself from ordering another round in the name of saving a few stomach inches for The Crawl.

High above the two taco trucks glows a “Honk if You’re Happy” billboard. Not a single honk echoed through this aromatic night, though we revealed audible happiness through post-bite "mmmm"s.

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Taco Table | York Boulevard and Ave 55 | 90042

These guys had just closed up shop as we arrived. That was unfortunate as some sharp-looking pastor still roasted on a spit. Despite the patriarch’s cerrado declaration, the bbq pig tempted me to dart past this gentlemen, swiftly tilt my head, and efficiently gnaw into the vertical stack of juicy pork. I didn't. This time.

Taco Table | York Boulevard and Ave 56 | 90042

Camping chairs invited diners to stick around, have a chat and chomp. That was the case at this happening taco table. Their table's spit was also roasting pastor, this time, atop it a pineapple. The pastor con pina was quite good but featured some charred bits. Judging by what little remained on the spit I'd say the char might not've been around earlier in the evening. The five-minute-old handmade corn tortillas were a nice touch as well. Next to the grill a woman methodically crafted the tortilla which can be seen in the picture at the top of the page. Their salsa bar featured chopped, grilled cactus (nopales) which was a nice surprise. This taco table was the night's winner.

Taco Table | York Boulevard and Nolden Street | 90042

This Taco Table seemed to be ready to call it a night as they were only offering asada. Neither of us are cow-eaters, so we called it a night. If you want to call us “California wussboxes,” for our lack of bovine-stomach relations, you're probably onto something. Plus our guts were good and stuffed.
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Taco Belles

There was another taco table further down the street, a block or two west of Figueroa, the lone one on the south side of the street, but we didn’t make it. That was quite alright. The Taco Town Taco Crawl was an amazing success, and worth doing on the regular. This adventure crafted our lips into smiles for $6-$7 each.

Not quite gorged enough, we stopped at the first taco truck we saw on Figueroa. I guess there's always room for another round.

Photos by Caleb Bacon for LAist

Where do you get your tacos in Highland Park? Commment Below!