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From Ensenada to London ~ Five International Taco Shops to Try at Taqueando Festival

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen it comes to all you can eat tacos, I am Homer Simpson closing down the Frying Dutchman, and I am also thankful that Bill Esparza’s Taqueando taco festival is this Saturday. There are few people in Los Angeles whose taste in tacos I trust more than the James Beard winner and cookbook author.

There is a lot to look forward to at Taqueando, a collection of dozens of taqueros from all over SoCal, Mexico, and even a taco shop from London. There are L.A. favorites like Burritos La Palma, Macheen, Guerrilla Tacos, and Taco Madness 2019 champs Sonoratown and Marisco Jalisco. But the ones I am looking forward to the most are some of the international taco shops.

There are many other great taqueros to look forward to this Saturday. But these are the five I am most excited about trying.

The carne asada taco from Breddos in London. Credit: Breddos
The carne asada taco from Breddos in London. Credit: Breddos

Breddos Tacos (London)

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’ve never been to Europe but my 23andMe results show 53 percent of my ancestors have. So I have no desire to hate on the concept of British tacos. At L.A. TACO we welcome the spread of the Taco Lifestyle across the pond.

I first heard of Breddos on an episode of the Taco City Podcast where I discovered that the restaurant began, like many taquerias, as a street cart. I began to research the London-based taco shop almost immediately after and bookmarked this review by Marina O'Loughlin, where she writes about the abundance of flavors in the tacos.

“They are unspeakably delicious, but I feel bludgeoned, bewildered, bloated with flavours. Normally when reviewing, I’m a hideous plate-sniffer, trying to identify individual components, parse technique, understand context; I’m a whole lot of fun on the job, me. Here, I can’t see the food (it’s dark), I can’t hear others’ observations (it’s loud) and everything arrives at once in a great, untrammelled blurt of hot-sour-sweet-crisp-gooey-chewy shoutiness. It’s a mic drop moment.”

An octopus quesataco from Tacos Kokopelli in Tijuana. Credit: Tacos Kokopelli
An octopus quesataco from Tacos Kokopelli in Tijuana.

Tacos Kokopelli (Tijuana)

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]ijuana tacos are the best tacos I have ever had. The style is so simple: meats grilled over charcoal served on handmade tortillas and topped with fresh guacamole. But there’s a vibe to Tijuana that infects you in good and bad ways. It’s a palpable part of the air that mixes with the pollution, the Tecates, and the charcoal smoke to make for great classic tacos.

Tacos Kokopelli puts its own twist on the TJ street taco. They are known by some in the food scene there as popularizing so called “hipster” tacos, which is really just a misnomer for tacos made with modern culinary techniques. Kokpelli does things like The Kraken taco, a grilled octopus taco served on a charred tortilla, or changing the pork in the pibil for fresh marlin.

Kokopelli started out of a cart pieced together from, a collection of tomato crates, before rising at their peak to three locations in TJ and a restaurant in Chicago, that ultimately did not make it past its first year. Kokopelli currently has two locations in Tijuana.

Taco de chicharrón from Tacos Aaron in Tijuana. Credit: Tacos Aaron
Taco de chicharrón from Tacos Aaron in Tijuana. Credit: Tacos Aaron

Finca Altozano, La Guerrerense, Tacos Aaron

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]hree of the other international food stands expected to be at Taqueando are mostly mysteries to me, which is really exciting. These are shops that have cultivated reputations as purveyors of great tacos – a passing word, a random Instagram post – though not much else is known to me.

There’s Finca Altozano set in Baja’s wine country, el Valle de Guadalupe. From beautiful Ensenada, seafood stand La Guerrerense will bring mariscos and fried fish tacos, an unparalleled specialty of the Bufadora city. And then there’s Tacos Aaron, a classic TJ-style joint that Esparza has praised as “serving up the definitive version of Tijuana-style tacos varios for close to 20 years.”

Taqueando takes place June 15 at The Row in downtown L.A. Doors open at 1 pm. For more info and tickets go here.

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