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Diablo Taco: Does L.A. Really Need Another Gourmet Taco Joint?
Diablo, the "urban taco fabricator" opened for lunch in Silver Lake yesterday, adding another gussied up taco joint to a list of what has become a growing trend in L.A.: the gourmet taco restaurant. They join the ranks of the nearby Malo, who serves gringo-fied tacos (think hard shells filled with BLT fixins or potatoes and cheddar cheese that rival the wrongness of Taco Bell's bacon gordita crunch) to the Silver Lake crowd, as well as other L.A. restaurants like Tinga, Tortilla Republic, and La Esquela who boast modern alternatives to the traditional street food fare.
But we have to wonder, living in such a salsa-saturated area, what's the point of bastardizing taco stands, turning them into gastropubs, replete with the obligatory exposed bricks, community tables, and craft beer lists?
We haven't yet visited Diablo, so we can't poke too much. Their tacos could be great. But after some digging we've found that they're owned by Sinister Culinary Group, whose website is pretty sparse save for a landing page that touts pretty much every culinary trend in the book. Seriously, these words are the only thing on the homepage:
beef vodka fat fried beer pickled onion whiskey bacon belly caramelized charcoal fire black urban truffle concrete foie iron rhubarb flour butter tomato rust industrial chef aioli market butcher gin eggs enter american potato local intense olive cream grind cheese deviled brioche music infusion classic real addictive wine passion juicy flavor kitchen wood bar
The thought of tossing those ingredients into a tortilla is indeed sinister for taco purists, like Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA.
"Everybody wants to do a taco concept, but they're missing the point," says Esparza. "You can't just stick all these new ingredients in a shitty tortilla without a thought of its construction ... Simple foods are really difficult to make great. Maybe it's possible [to have a good gourmet taco], but I haven't seen it yet."
All of this is not to say that the area couldn't use more decent dining options, but why would go up against a market that's already replete with authentic street meat? Within a few moment's drive there's Guisados, Ricky's, Mexicali, Tacos Arizas, and the list goes on.
We will of course visit the shop shortly, so for now this is just a rant on a trend we're spotting. We hope that they're delivering something delicious to the gourmet taco market, we really do. But like Esparza, our previous encounters with similar establishments have been mediocre at best.
Stay tuned for a follow up.