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South of the Border in South LA: The No Name Taqueria @ Normandie and Slauson

12:12 PM PDT on September 4, 2012

Once in a great awhile you can make a food find in this city that will keep you up at night, obsessing about when you will go back and what you will get next. The No Name Taqueria at the corner of Normandie and Slauson is such a place, and it is serious south of the border comida, south of the 10 freeway.

I have never been to a taco stand that had a two stage meat station. From what I gathered from my man with the cleaver, this the DF style, i.e. Mexico City. Meats are near totally immersed in this deep pan of simmering liquid, which I assume is oil, then finished on the griddle before being chopped and put into tortillas.

The results are astounding. The Buche(pork stomach), shown lower right is as lush and velvety smooth as fresh Pappardelle pasta. The Asada, lower left, had a seared surface that would make Le Creuset cookware jealous. The Pastor, upper right and Chorizo, upper left, are absolutely packed with the intense flavor these meats had the very first time you tried them. The bar has been set, your next taco run is doomed to be a let down if it isn't here.

The salsas step up to the meat and serve them justice. The "big three" salsas are all solid. Rojo packs the kick it should but the heat is not overpowering, Salsa Verde has the right acidity, and the creamy Salsa Avocado is a must on the Asada. But the Pico de Gallo steals the show. From experiences making asada at home to feasting on the real deal(grilled over mesquite) in Mexico, I am a believer that "a little lime will do", but in this case add the Pico de Gallo as well. Whatever your salsa habits are, you can't go wrong and you won't stop at just one combination.

I've come across some interesting discussions on chowhound regarding the sorry state of Asada in Los Angeles, with noted exceptions like Mexicali. I feel that No Name Taqueria @ Normandie and Slauson should be added to that list of exceptions. The secret to their success, I believe, is that their oil simmering technique allows them to churn out asada quickly, almost to order. "Fresh my friend, never a day old" came from this taquero man's mouth more than once.

You can see the beef going raw to rare to cooked.

After some time on the griddle, the finished product is seared and juicy.

Normandie and Slauson had an eerie vibe that night but if you see these lights . . .

. . . . it means these guys are doing their thing . . .

. . . so watch your six and get your taco on.

Pastor up close and personal.

Ditto with a buche taco.

I'll be back to get the scoop what exactly that vat of oil is about, and bring more $$$ for their mammoth quesadillas and cabeza . . . stay tuned.

No Name Taqueria
@ the SW corner of Normandie and Slauson
5pm till Midnight, every day.

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