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Pili’s Tacos ~ West Los Angeles, CA

9:35 PM PST on February 16, 2006

Pili's1

Santa Monica Blvd. & Armacost Ave. & Brockton Ave. ~ West Los Angeles

This neighborhood, heavy on Oaxacan residents and eateries stocks a lotta good tacos, and I think Pili's can be some of the choicest when at their best, perhaps second to the Juquila truck nearby. At their peak, they are small, juicy, and tender, but not served with a smile. I've generally found the reception here lackluster.

On the night of our review, Pili's was not as strong as it had been in the past until we deviated from the tacos. The carne asada came in chunks only slightly bigger than baco-bits, with the conisistency of soft beef jerky, yet juicy with a peppery taste that really stood out in the small bits of meat. Carnitas, in long, stringy shreds of wet, stewy pork, had a very strong flavor that was almost fishy, and combined with the hot salsa, almost worked. The large chunks of pastor seemed charred, not very juicy or particularly flavorful, but with a great consistency and a kick of spice that follow. The tortillas could have been slightly fresher too (granted it was after 11PM) and perhaps less doughy, though that is often typical of the Oaxacan style.
A venture towards Caldo de Res, a beef soup, swam with huge chunks of marrow-filled bone chips and the cow flesh that once clung to it. An opaque broth welcomed potato, carrot, cilantro, onion and chilis and carried those chilis through the brothy essence of the dish. The meat was fatty, but picked up the flavors of its companions, in a taste that would be familiar to anyone from the countryside, it is natural, almost earthy in flavors and served with hot tortillast o make your own brewy tacos.
Pili's also have good breakfasts and a mellow vibe, sparse with cool, traditional details. A yellow crown-topped music store next door sells cds and cassettes of all your favorite ranchera, banda, and norteno artists.
Asada Pastor Carnitas
Carnitas with CheeseCaldo de ResPilis3Casita MusicalPili'sPilis2

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