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A Look Back At The First Annual Tacolandia ~ Hollywood


"Yo-ho, yo-ho, a taco life for me." The benefits of the taco lifestyle were on naked display to everyone at Tacolandia, Saturday's celebration of the city's favorite staple. These convictions were doubly confirmed spying the event's culinary curator, Bill Esparza, strutting through the massive with Miss Los Angeles on one arm and Dita Von Teese on the other. Direct benefits of the man's dedication to this here taco life. In fact, everyone at Hollywood's Palladium that afternoon reaped the rewards of Esparza's epicurean experience and deep connections to gifted chefs as various and voracious members of L.A.'s many taco tribes joined up under the sun in the parking lot of the Palladium to sip drinks and shoot the breeze, all while eating very well. The L.A. TACO crew amped up our own appetites by biking up from a ride across Wilshire during CicLAvia and offering crucial product testing to a new hand-held doohickey called The PAX (it gets four and twenty thumbs up!). Arriving at the L.A. Weekly-sponsored event around 2:00 P.M., it only took stops to three of the included 30 taqueros to overstand that this taco event was playing on the highest level, the assembled restaurants rich with heavy-hitters of the Mexican food scene both in L.A. and below the border. Each brought their best creations or else pushed their own boundaries with inspired new combinations and ingredients. Come along and take a look at some of the highlights in our look back at the first (and surely the start of many) Tacolandia festivals from L.A.'s own trusted Street Gourmet.


Jimmy Shaw's D.F.-style L.A. taqueria, Loteria, had one of our favorite tacos of the day. Called "Bilingua," it featured beef tongue in a red salsa on half of the torilla, pork tongue with tomatillo on the other. They had another one on hand called "Tres Cochinitios" with bacon, carnitas, and chicharrones.


Hey look, it's Taco Man, who made his first appearance in these here pages before becoming way too famous to talk to us. He was there in some kind of endorsement deal for Second City.


Javier Plascencia, the Tijuana superstar behind Mision 19, among his many places, prepared an awesome fried taco dorado with tripe and fideo.


This cured snapper taco from George's at the Cove was topped with crunchy chicharrones made from the skin of the fish.


Tijuana's Tacos Kokopelli grilled up a version of their infamous "octopus" Kraken tacos.


Another highlight from Baja was Sabina Bandera's La Guerrerense. Behind a row of eight colorful salsas, Sabina and crew topped their uni and yellowtail tostada (above) and incredible, smoky fish and Pismo clam pate tostadas with an incredible array of distinct sauces, each lending their own clear notes to the experience.


Ricardo Zarate's Mo-Chica presented this irresistibly delicious tacu-tacu taco with pork belly.


Tacos Leo remains one of our favorite taco spots in Los Angeles. Even among the presence of so many creative and full-flavored tacos on Saturday, something about the simple pleasures of their perfect pastor made it again one of our favorites of the day, its resident pastor artist never ceasing to be a wonder to behold as he gracefully nicks pineapple and pig from the spit. Check out this video we took of him in action.


Bravo to this passionate taco fanatic and her home-made costume.


Miss Los Angeles has a good head on her shoulders and is our clear frontrunner for Miss America. Look at how she handles herself with such composure even as she's harassed by boozy giants in dorky caps.


Celebrating the conclusion of a successful tour, Dita Von Teese proved to be super cool. We recently interviewed the siren about what she likes to eat and when she's not digging into some uni, she's a huge taco fan. She has really cool friends, too, and was an incredible sport about taking pictures with people and hanging out all day in her home city.


We'd like to blame/thank our friends at Tacos Punta Cabra, Guerilla Tacos, and Mexicali Tacos for offering us some extra refreshment throughout the day, which unfortunately helped us to forget who made these awesome tacos you see here. What you see in this post is really just the tip of the taco, in fact, as the day was full of hits like Bistro LQ's rabbit liver tacos, Spirit House's chasu tacos, birria tacos from Gish Bac, moles from Rocio's Moles del Dioses, tacos arabes from Tacos Arabes de Puebla, smoked marlin tacos from Coni'Seafood, beef cheek from Cacao Mexicatessen, the super-duper popular lobster tacos from Soho Taco, y mucho, mucho mas.


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