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Five Crispy, Delicious ‘Vampiros’ to Try in L.A. While Watching Netflix’s Latest Vampire Movie ‘Day Shift’

3:25 PM PDT on July 30, 2022

    This article was produced in collaboration with our partner, Netflix.

    Some of us love watching horror movies in the summer. Monsters, chainsaws, and heads turning all the way around 180 degrees hit a little differently when it's nearly triple digits outside. If you are this person, did you know that there is an incredibly delicious regional taco style that was made for your horror-loving ways? 

    Welcome to the [under]world of crispy, melty, meaty, and salsa-covered vampiros. 

    This taco variation is there for us when you need just a little more heft in your bite. Vampiros, pronounced in Spanish, is essentially a tortilla that is slowly crisped up on a plancha, then layered with a little bit of meltable white cheese and topped with sliced meat and salsa. If you’re having the original version of a vampiro, originally from Sinaloa, it will only have minced cabbage and red onion, and a thick salsa roja made from ripe tomatoes (Sinaloa’s pride and joy in the Mexican baseball leagues are named after tomatoes; Los Tomateros de Culiacán). The omnipotent Tijuana influence of adding a fat dollop of guacamole has infected most vampiros, so most places here in L.A. will also add guacamole. If you are not a taco purist, you will love this beautiful fusion of Sinaloan and Tijuana food cultures.  

    Where there is a great taco, a vampiro is not too far behind. It goes by other names in our taco-verse. In a taco shop's owners are from Sonora; they may call a vampiro a “lorenza.” In Jalisco, they go by “volcanes.” All are essentially the same delicious thing with subtle regional differences. 

    Rummaging through the origin theories of how a “vampiro” taco got its curious name is almost as fun as rummaging through the conspiracy theories behind classic horror movies (that actually make them all the scarier if they are even remotely true.) A deep dive into how vampiros got their name reveals all kinds of entertaining theories. Some say it is because of the way the tortilla toasts up on top of the plancha, which becomes slightly oblong-shaped bat wing-like. Another bonkers theory is that it is because the tortilla is “sucked dry” as it slowly crisps up on top of the plancha. Though our favorite theory ties it back to that red salsa: making you look like a vampire because you will have red salsa running down your chin after you take that first highly anticipated bite of your vampiro. 

    Whatever vampiro taco theory you choose to believe in, vampiros are absolutely the best meal to eat or pregame with to get you even more excited to watch Netflix’s upcoming vampire movie, “Day Shift.” 

    Here are five L.A. TACO-approved vampiros to slay in L.A.

    Tacos El Vampiro

    12737 Glenoaks Blvd. Sylmar, CA. 91342 Unit 27

    Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 236 - "Glenoaks/Sayre" or Bus Line 234 - "Borden/Sayre."

    Starting us off in the big bad San Fernando Valley, where "Day Shift" may or may not have been filmed, the appropriately named "Tacos El Vampiro" sells dozens of vampiros a day. It is their specialty and what separates them from the rest of our vampiro crew is that they get their cheese golden brown crispy before topping it with the meat. They get bonus points for offering super-doradita tripita as a meat option for your vampiro because if you like to suck blood, then you probably also have a palate for crispy intestine.

    The seafood vampiro from chef Meñito.
    The seafood vampiro from chef Meñito. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

    Chef Meñito

    Inglewood

    The hungover community of Inglewood has kept Chef Meñito a secret for years. His low-key mariscos operation out of his home is a bonafide community gem, and his style for Mexican-style seafood is as exciting as a jump scare in a horror movie that just dropped. His exciting mariscos-life-meets-taco-life grilled shrimp and octopus vampiro is a first in L.A.’s cutthroat taco wars. Along with toasting the tortilla, the chef grills the shrimp and pulpo a bit, garnishes it with onion, diced tomato, cilantro, a couple of thin slices of avocado, and finishes it with a dash of his signature salsa negra.

    Follow Chef Meñito on Instagram and shoot him a DM to order his food. 

    DAY SHIFT. Karla Souza as Audrey in Day Shift. Cr. Netflix © 2022.
    Vampiros at Tire Shop Taquería.
    Vampiros at Tire Shop Taquería. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

    Tire Shop Taquería

    4077 Avalon Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90011.

    Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 51 - “Avalon/41st.”

    We are not afraid to say it: Tire Shop Taquería is a contender for the best taco stand in all of Los Angeles. Their tortillas are handmade, their mesquite-grilled asada is always smokey, and their guacamole is always thicc. Their vampiro is another contender for our favorite in the city due to this thicker handmade tortilla-based tostada. It shatters into approximately 666 pieces as you take that first big bite, signifying the number of the beast, or in this case, the number of 'hood-famous vampires.

    Tacos Sinaloa. Photo via Tacos Sinaloa.
    Tacos Sinaloa. Photo via Tacos Sinaloa.

    Tacos Sinaloa

    5479 N Figueroa Los Angeles, CA 90042

    Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A Line - "Highland Park Station." or Bus Lines 81 or 182 - “Figueroa/Avenue 54.”

    The vestiges of old-school Highland Park are few and far between, and we must protect this underrated taco trailer that has been set up on the corner of Ave 55 and Fig since 2003 at all costs. As their name suggests, they are proudly from Sinaloa. Their menu is tiny, which is usually a great indicator of an unforgettable taco. As with many other tacos vendors who set up in the street, sometimes they are not open during their regular business hours. So if you don't find them, make it a taco mission to come back and taste this OG NELA Sinaloan vampiro greatness.

    Tacos La Carreta

    Saving the best for last, Tacos La Carreta is perhaps the only true vampiro on this list. True, because they are the only vampiro that keeps it strictly Sinaloan by using minced cabbage and salsa Mexicana (American name: Pico de Gallo). This vampiro is by far a destination taco if there ever was one, largely thanks to taquero José Manuel Morales Bernal not cutting any corners in meat quality. He uses nothing but sirloin steak for his carne asada, which he uses the fatty pieces of beef like a paintbrush to gently brush each and every tortilla, boosting each tortilla with an added dose of beefy umami as they crisp up.

    Tacos La Carreta is at 3401 E. 69th St., Long Beach, (562) 377-2819. Follow them on Instagram to find out approximate hours for the day you plan to visit.

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