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Taco of the Year 2014: Taco de Carnitas y Cueritos from Carnitas El Momo

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When L.A.'s master of emerging cuisine, Bill Esparza, invited us to an early morning chow session in East L.A. along with luminaries in the taco community, we knew something special was going to be on offer. That crisp and clear winter morning we were introduced to a true master of authentic Mexican cooking, Romulo Acosta, whose small kitchen held the traditional massive copper pots used to make carnitas for his two food trailers that had begun feed people across Los Angeles. Growing out of a backyard restaurant into a food truck, Carnitas El Momo had captured Bill's attention and he immediately proclaimed them the best in the city, and perhaps the nation. Considering how much we and most everyone else in the taco lifestyle loves carnitas, this was an earth-shaking pronouncement.

A visit to the Vermont / Melrose location with a small team of L.A. Taco photographers confirmed that this was the real deal in all aspects, and a clear "best carnitas in L.A." had been discovered. A few months later, we convinced Carnitas El Momo to make their first food festival appearance at Taco Madness 2014, confidant they could handle the pressure and deliver a top contender for the judge's choice panel.

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That day Momo was one of the first food stands to arrive, and they brought their massive copper cauldron along with a gigantic wooden paddle for stirring and were the talk of our setup crew. As the pork started to cook down in the boiling oil, a hushed sense of awe came over participants as they craned their necks for a look at something special. The line for Carnitas El Momo didn't die down untill they sold out of food just before the end of the day-- a day that culminated with them winning the Judge's Choice award in front of thousands of people at Grand Park in Downtown L.A.

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Their final honor of 2014 is to be our winner for Taco of the Year. The carnitas are perfection, but add some cueritos to the top and you've got something which can go head-to-head with the best pork dishes on the planet. Congratulations to Carnitas El Momo and the Acosta family for having a massive 2014, and best of luck in 2015.

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Note: at press time we weren't able to get the cuerito/carnitas taco photo, which mysteriously disappeared from our hard drive. Below, see the cueritos taco and at the top of the post is the carnitas. Trust us, the combo taco is the best!

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