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Food

La Estrella Tacos #3 ~ Highland Park

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La Estrella #3 ~ 6310 N. Figueroa St. Highland Park, CA 90042

There are a few La Estrellas around the area (we even reviewed their truck right here), and this one on Ave. 61 never does me wrong. The food is always solid, from the butt-kicking breakfast burritos to the small, near-perfect lunch and dinner menus, which consist of tacos and burritos filled with many meats, including a small selection of fresh, fried seafood, plus perfect mariscos cocktails and tostadas.

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I dove into a pastor taco which was full of deep flavors, both from the pork itself and the barbecue preparation, as well. This is not a spit-roasted pastor, it's grilled and chopped, with a strong, but balanced seasoning. It is remarkably delicious, lightly oily and torn into medium-sized pieces, topped with cebolla and cilantro, plus Estrella's signature red salsa for a perfect mix. The pastor is sometimes different here than it was on the day of its close-up, but it's always a good call.

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The carnitas at Estrella is not my style, it's sort of like pork machaca without any oil or juice. Its dry and cooked long and hard, 'til the exterior is shellacked and scorched. The natural flavors of the pork are nearly overwhelming and the chewing is interminable. The asada, on the other hand, is awesome. It's a little different than most, chopped not like steak, but ground to the consistency of chorizo. It is properly oily, saucy, and savory on its own, and still mixes excellently with the sparse yet powerful ingredients of the bigger picture taco. All three tacos were free of any nasty or fatty bits.

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Best and most beautifully presented are the shrimp and pescado tacos. They are also impossible to hold together, but totally worth the finger-lickin' mess for fresh fish and plump shrimp covered in a light tempura-thin shell of golden brown batter. The sour cream tastes home-made and gets into the openings between the batter and crunchy shrimp, mixing sensually. It is a little pricey at $3.25, but huge and really good.

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These treats from "unda' the sea" make vital a great restaurant with fantastic, personal takes on the standards. La Estrella is always there, 24 hours, when you need it on Fig and 61st. Do your best to be there for it, in turn.

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