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Sip on CBD-Spiked Aguas Frescas and Eat Vegan Al ‘Pastor Imposiblé’ at El Monte’s Ixtaco Taqueria

12:37 PM PDT on August 20, 2019

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]f CBD was really “everywhere,” it would swirl around in John Bolton’s coffee cup every morning, saving the planet considerable anxiety.

However, L.A. Taco can confirm the presence of CBD inside some very cool aguas frescas out in El Monte, ready to combat the 90-degree plus average heat of San Gabriel Valley summer days.

Ixtaco, a small walk-up taqueria on Valley Boulevard, has been serving these colorful, cannabis-assisted refreshments for nearly two years. Every day the restaurant offers a different CBD-infused agua from a rotating flavor roster. They’ve become the stand’s bestseller.

Here you’ll find two windows where orders are taken alongside familiar taqueria trappings like a ceramic piggy bank and a miniature Bethlehem manger.

You’ll also find a framed green and gold-striped lotería card for “La Mota,” an actual cannabis plant growing towards a to-go menu display, and Ixtaco’s own “420” merch being modeled by the cashier taking orders. There’s also a poster breaking down the benefits of CBD.

Ixtaco was started more than four years ago by four partners, S.G.V. locals who grew up on Asian food but have a taste for Mexican eats and THC. They have asked L.A. Taco to remain anonymous.

While working in neighborhood real estate, they found themselves in possession of a long-vacant taqueria. Instead of flipping it like usual, they turned it into Ixtaco.

“We noticed this area of San Gabriel has a lack of creativity in tacos,” says co-owner C. “It’s always the same, King Taco, King Taco, King Taco, which we grew up on but there’s nothing else to really go to. So we decided to bust it out and see where things go.”

When the partners were given an ample sampling of flavored CBD syrups at a dispensary’s customer appreciation day, they decided to try it in the taqueria’s drinks.

“It was all just accidental, but it sold out immediately,” co-owner C. says. “The response was amazing so we just went with it.”

Today the taqueria buys its CBD wholesale from one of the country’s biggest suppliers. But the drinks almost didn’t survive. Regulators had told Ixtaco there would be a moratorium on the beverages. A last-minute senate vote ended up taking the heat off of the stand and its aguas right before the deadline this past July.

Ixtaco ‘s menu is vast and intriguing. Tempting additions to tacos, vampiros, quesadillas, burritos and sopes include al pastor-style tocino, chicharrón chile verde, duck, crab, lamb, and lobster, among the many.

L.A. Taco chose to save these carnivorous delights for a return trip while making a different play.

We ordered a CBD-infused, mango agua fresca, which cost exactly $4.20 and packs about 20mg of CBD. Then we opted for tacos stuffed with the taqueria’s meat-less “pastor imposiblé” and “Beyond Asada.” Because these faux meats, much like CBD, also seem to be “everywhere” these days.

Although Ixtaco notifies guests of a potential 30-minute wait for food, our icy orange agua arrived immediately at the start of a lunch rush; the food fast behind.

The rich drink tasted like real mango, without a hint of terpene, though it did seem to have a thicker mouthfeel and slightly more bitter, though not unpleasant, taste as we reached the bottom, which has a jumble of orange, white and red jellies meant to recreate the pleasures of boba tea tapioca. We gulped down the first ¾ of the drink while munching our tacos.

The vegan asada had the unmistakable funk of Beyond Meat, the El Segundo-based company that dominates the vegan meat market.

While the meat itself won’t replace a great charcoal-kissed asada, the whole taco was better than most average, diced-beyond-death asada tacos. Arriving on hot corn tortillas sourced from La Gloria in Boyle Heights, they conveyed the immediacy necessary in any great taco.

The pastor, a spicy, chile-slicked assembly of crunchy mushrooms cradled in those same tortillas, was considerably more interesting texturally, if less true to the flavors of its forebears. Both tacos were satisfying and definitely worth ordering if you’re seeking meat-free Mex.

Much has been debated about the efficacy of CBD. Does it even work? Can it treat or prevent cancer? Are its users experiencing some sort of mass placebo effect? I’m usually so stoned by the time I ingest CBD that it’s impossible to tell where the effects begin and end.

Finishing my brief lunch, I pulled away from the taqueria, the final remnants of bright agua balanced in my cupholder.

Idling at the first red light, I found myself staring into my sideview mirror as my vision spread out to the peripheries, unable to consolidate my focus on one point while a deep warmth thawed my bones.

While CBD is touted as having no psychological effects, it felt a little like the chemical may have churned up a little of my body’s vast reserves of residual THC.

But that spacy sensation quickly abated, making me feel just a little mellower than usual as I drove to Gioia for some wholesale burrata on our Editor’s recommendation. This relaxed mood stuck with me for hours.

Ixtaco isn’t the only place you’ll find aguas frescas and cannabis playing well together in L.A. THC-infused aguas bottled under the name Agua de Flor are tasty, effective and available at many L.A. dispensaries.

Mid-City’s Pobres Tacos has played around with a CBD option on its food menu. And newly opened Sugar Taco on Melrose sells CBD-spiked aguas, as well.

This is a movement we only hope to see more of. Great-tasting tacos and drink with a supplementary CBD selection to take the edge off of city life.

CBD might not be everywhere just yet. But at Ixtaco, it was certainly right where we needed it the most.

Aside from the morning mud of our nation’s most belligerent.

Ixtaco, 10021 Valley Blvd., El Monte, (646) 416-5675

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