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Cypress Park

Taqueria El Atacor # 11 ~ Cypress Park

5:34 AM PDT on March 31, 2008


El Atacor #11 ~ 2622 N. Figueroa St. Cypress Park, CA 90065 ~ (323) 441-8477


I pass El Atacor on a weekly basis, but it wasn't until the place came recommended by Wallywood wall-scribe Wally Wallnuts that I ventured inside what will most likely become a staple of my post-noon repasts. El Atacor is a man's taco joint, all exposed brick and hard white walls, buck's head on the wall, pretty lady up front, pinball machine with a hot space chick painted on its side, and a lot of heavy eating fellas moseying their way in and out. They even have a 'porno burrito,' according to Los Angeles food guru J. Gold, whose review is hanging on zee wall. I skipped the porno burrito, figuring I get enough of that at home (it's basically just a tremendoid burro of the basics called a Super Burrito which is bigger than most third legs, hence the moniker). Instead I dove into a quad-wrangle of tacos and a ceviche tostada for emphasis.


Coming back to my corner table, bookended by colorful murals, my arms full of paper plates, I was blown over by the tostada and realized El Atacor's incredible value from the freshness weighing down that particular disc. For only $2, I got two crunchy tortillas sandwiching a solid hill of clean whitefish mixed with crisp diced onion, cilantro, ripe cucumber, and chopped tomato, and topped with a generous scoop of perfectly light green avocado that Subway would probably charge $1 for alone. The flavors are pure, natural, and revitalizing, the fish soaking up the sharper tastes of the lemon and accompanying herbs, while injecting me with a dose of protein and omega 3-s that would last the month. A true steal.


I hooked up pastor, asada, and carnitas on my taco plate. These $1 tacos were small, gone in about two and a half bites, and while not very impressive in appearance, extremely delicious where it counts. The tacos are noticeably oily, but not excessively so. All three shared a similar flavor from the use of the same roasted salsa, with variations on the theme coming from the various meat's ample juices. The pastor was off the chain; My first bite exploded with the flavor of pineapple, which is often used on top of the pork's roasting spit, but seldom, and if so, subtly, discerned. The pastor had an excellent consistency, chewy, while not too tough, and softened by the oil and curry-like gravy that had tons of roasted pepper and barbecue flavor. The asada was packed with the flavors of black pepper, the grilled steak crunching a little at the start of every wet bite. Carnitas at Atacor taste very juicy as well, also sporting traces of that nice barbecue flavor. The awesome meat was shredded and tasted naturally sweet and in its prime, even a bit like birria, but more wholesome, without any hints of game.


What's really the bee's knees at El Atacor though, are the papas tacos. I've always been wary of dry and starchy potatoes crashing my tacos or breakfast burritos, but the spud tacos being served here are truly a miracle snack unto themselves. Tortillas are packed full of whipped tater innards, then deep fried for a quick soak, and served up fast and hot under a snowbank of white cheddar curls and green sauce. The lightly fried hard shell seals around the pillow of potato. When bitten, it splits open and out spills buttery mashed potatoes, light as a cloud, heavenly and scrumptious, as satisfying and addictive as the day homo sapiens discovered tater tots or french fries. The airy down of the pomme oozes like a cream in consistency, mixing with the dollop of actual sour cream on top and the crumble of maize-battered tortilla rim, becoming the ultimate hash brown. They are nothing short of a new evolutionary branch in potato snack foods. If other places follow suit, maybe we'll see them being sold on Venice Beach and at Dodger games...mmmn.


El Atacor is cheap and delicious. Get thee there for a bite and a beer. It's open late. We'll be back soon for ceviche and of course those poppin' fresh tacos!

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