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Echo Park

My Favorite Taco ~ Danny Trejo

2:39 PM PDT on August 7, 2007


With some notable exceptions (such as the excellent tacos recommended by our Mayor), The My Favorite Taco column hasn't produced so many Holy Grails among the city's spots. Some dudes haven't even ever had a damn tekko in their life!

I'd seen badass actor Danny Trejo at a birthday party for Rob Zombie some years back. It was the Danny Trejo you'd always imagined, the one where a mere glimpse from his eyes makes you shit your pants. My mama comes from El Paso and one of her relatives once delivered money on horseback to Pancho Villa for the government, saying he had yellow eyes like a tiger. Trejo, from Echo Park originally, grew up as an armed robber, teenage drug addict, and prison boxing champion shuffled between the whole collection of Cali's penal system. He is also a cat with intensely light-green eyes and a fearsomely iconic tough guy mug that I imagine could have given Villa a run for his money in the intimidation department.

This time, though, it was a warm, embracing Danny Trejo doing it for the kids, taking pictures and shaking hands. I felt bad putting him on the spot, but figured who else would know where to get tacos featuring the legendary and merciless peppers of Quetzlzaacatenango than this toughest of tough homegrown vatos.

I was hoping he'd at least shout out the name of one of his friend's places from back in the day. Uh, but like a pinche pendejo, I put Danny on the spot, I could tell he wasn't conjuring up his best recollection as I pushed and wheedled for an answer.

TACO: "So, where does Danny Trejo go for tacos in Los Angeles?"

TREJO: "Hmmmm...for tacos...(long pause) man, that's a hard one."

TACO: "Or Mexican food in general, Danny...what are some of your favorite Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles?"

TREJO: "Hmmmm...let me think (longer pause)...Uh, well there's this spot on Washington Blvd...(here it comes, I thought to myself) called El Tarasco. I like going there, they have pretty good food."

In a way, Snr. Trejo can say no wrong, but when he said El Tarasco, the wind deflated from my sails, was he talking the chain with LAX El Tarasco? Uh, that place kinda sucks. Had I put Danny under too much delirious pressure to respond so he just said the first thing that came to mind?

With a little editorial investigation, TACO news-viking Erich Redson came back with the word that there was a different, smaller El Tarasco chain, to which we immediately dispensed our TACO forensics division to investigate the Trejo-trumpeted taco spot. There was a lot to love about El Tarasco Burrito in South Venice, perfect location just steps from the beach, a killer mural of a Central American countryside, in business since 1969, and two of the cutest waitresses I've ever seen. Within moments I felt the appeal.

There was a diverse menu with tons of make-your-own taco plates of heaping asada, carnitas, and chiles that looked good, but since burrito is in the name, I went for a chile relleno burrito and carne asada burrito as well. The food was definitely a big step above the other El Tarasco, with actual beans in the burritos instead of that mush. Not the greatest place we've ever stepped foot in, but it had some flavors worth coming back for, I would do the fluffy chile relleno burrito again, since it had all the right components, if I was in the area and the mood. Still-- we're not one to argue with a multiple felon, so El Tarasco burrito officially rules!

El Tarasco Burrito ~ 109 Washington Blvd. ~ Venice

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