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These New Sonoran Beef Rib Asada Tacos In Whittier Are Changing L.A.’s Asada Culture

The family-owned truck is hidden deep in Whittier and also make paper-thin handmade flour tortillas for all their tacos and burritos, which is also a rarity in L.A.'s Taco Life. Everything on their menu is done well, from their strawberry horchata to their velvety beans.

3:14 PM PDT on August 10, 2023

    Mochomitos costilla asada. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

    Asada is an adjective. 

    Mochomitos Asador, found in a dimly lit corridor in Whittier, is here to remind you of that, serving tacos on handmade flour tortillas that come piled high with juicy, charred arrachera (skirt steak), costilla (sliced beef rib), or sirloin. All of these cuts are what define carne asada.   

    Los Ángeles is a carne asada town; the smokestacks emanate from every other corner at dusk as taqueros grill their thinly cut steaks for nightly service to their respective communities. It’s an insular asada town that evolved into its own entity outside of northern Mexico’s own asada culture, where the taco originated. 

    In states like Sonora, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, Coahuila, and Chihuahua, you will likely get to choose which cut of asada you want when ordering tacos de asada at a stand or restaurant. 

    Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
    Tacos de costilla at Mochomitos. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

    Norteños are absolutely obsessed with carne asada, going as far as staying loyal to not just specific carnicerías—lovingly called “meat boutiques” in Sonora—but to cattle farms, even. Beef and high heat are a way of life there. 

    It is no different in Los Angeles. 

    However, unlike many other staple dishes in L.A., asada tacos get homogenized a bit through food assimilation. Asada is less definitive here. Because of recent beef inflation, you get whatever meat the taquero chooses, which tends, more often than not, to be tough, gristly cuts of diesmillo (chuck steak) or what L.A.'s golden taquero Wes Avila jokingly calls the stuff “chancla asada.” (“grilled flip-flop [sandles]). 

    In Orange County, TACO MADNESS champions Tacos Los Cholos get close to northern Mexico’s way of eating asada by offering you your choice of cut for asada on a menu that includes grilled beef rib tips, filet mignon, ribeye, and more. Sonoratown also changed L.A.'s asada narrative, with their costilla grilled in the style of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora. Like the rest of northern Mexico, this style prioritizes meat quality and relies on salt to season—no marinades or even cracked black pepper. It’s a purist’s asada. 

    And now the latest contender for L.A.’s top asada has arrived.

    Family-owned Mochomitos, a formidable, six-month-old food truck located along historic Whittier Boulevard in east of east. They are the first truck in Los Angeles to treat asada like an adjective by offering you the options of arrachera, costilla, and sirloin, all grilled to order on handmade flour tortillas, the same used for their hulking asada burritos. 

    Fresh balls of dough for Mochomitos' flour tortillas. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
    Fresh corn and flour tortillas being toasted at Mochomitos. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

    David Leal, the lead taquero hired by Nuñez and family, is a taco veteran who graduated from the hard-knock Taco Life of Tijuana. He cut his teeth learning the taquero craft from world-famous taquerias, including Vegas-famous El Gordo and Taco N’ Todo—the latter of which stars on the Taco Chronicles on Netflix. He also follows the "just-salt" school of asada, eschewing marinades because it can interfere with the natural flavor of high-quality beef.

    “Even though I am from Sinaloa, I recognize that Sonora style is the best,” says Mochomitos’ founder, Martín Nuñez. Nuñez runs the truck along with his daughter, Janice, and wife, Alma Brambila. Alma is from Jalisco and is the woman who handmakes Mochomitos’ flour tortillas. 

    Their taco de frijol (bean taco) is worth the trip alone from anywhere in Southern California; it damn near steals the show with its velvety texture and deeply savory flavor. And yes, it is vegetarian. 

    When asked for the secret to a great flour tortilla, she says, “We use [vegetable] shortening from Mexico. Flour from Mexico. Everything has to be from Mexico, so it tastes just as good as a taco in Mexico.”  

    The menu at Mochomitos only carries hits: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, lorenzas (a regional variation on crispy vampiros from Sonora), papa locas, and another first for a truck, the option to have your asada served on a plate, not chopped up, along with a pile of freshly handmade corn or flour tortillas. The name of the truck is a tribute to a type of ant found in Sinaloa.

    An asada taco currently costs $3.25, and a plate of grilled beef ribs costs $14.75. Nuñez says the grade they buy is “premium,” and you can immediately taste how the beef is clean-tasting, almost grassy. Especially when compared to the hundreds of other L.A.-style taco stands around L.A. doing asada. 

    The aguas frescas are all also made from scratch and potent. Their horchata de fresa is sweet enough and the perfect ice-cold beverage to wash down the bovine glory. However, their taco de frijol (bean taco) is worth the trip alone from anywhere in Southern California; it damn near steals the show with its velvety texture and deeply savory flavor. And yes, it is vegetarian.

    “It’s risky because the taco is more expensive than your average taco on the street, but I just want to offer something different,” says Nuñez, who is not a taquero himself but tells L.A. TACO, he’s “done it all” regarding past work experiences. He comes from a family with restaurant experience. His brother has a sushi restaurant in Culiacán, and Brambila’s family has a Mexican restaurant in Burbank known as MexCocina

    At Mochomitos, the family-owned truck is still working out the taco kinks, given its infant half-year age, but their concept is fairly revolutionary in L.A.’s asada game. From here, we see it on track to become an all-time great among L.A.’s cutthroat Taco Life. 

    For now, Nunez is set on simpler goals to pave that road. “We got a food truck to start and learn the craft, but the goal is to eventually open up a brick-and-mortar. Slowly but surely, we’ll get there, I’m sure.”

    12252 Whittier Blvd. Whittier, CA. 90602. Closest transit line and stop: Montebello Bus Lines Route 10 - "Philadelphia/Whittier."

    Wednesday-Monday 5:30 PM to 11 PM

    Tuesday: CLOSED.

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