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East Los Angeles

El Tacoache Solitario ~ East Los Angeles

12:08 PM PST on November 14, 2014

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This East L.A. Taco Trailer has a Beef Birria Taco You Need To Try This Weekend...

Arnulfo Guerrero has a wicked, if not under-appreciated, sense of humor. He named his truck the “lonely possum” even though he came from a huge family which he says reminds him of possum families. He says his tacos are $0.75 “just because”. He is also the man who has been stewing and chopping taco meats in a random corner of East Los Angeles for nearly 18 years. I say nearly because Guerrero simply can not recall whether he has hustled tacos for 17 or 18 years. It seems the origin is no longer important at the moment-- Arnulfo, his wife, and his daughter Yadira, are rushing a monstrous single order of 18 tacos at 1.A.M., when the crowd from the Latin club around the corner is exhausted from being drunk and ready to eat.

Guerrero and his large family are from Zopapan, Jalisco, and up until two years, his taco trailer was the only truck in East LA that served barbacoa de borrego tacos. According to Guerreo, a East LA resident who lives a mere mile away from his truck’s resting spot, lamb prices shot through the roof in the early 2010s. He admitted only his fellow Jaliscan immigrants ordered the sheepish tacos, and he had no choice but to discontinue that particular breed of mammalian taco filler. But all is not lost here at the Lonely Possum, as the birria de res tacos remain on the menu.

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Tacoache’s beef birria tacos are little morsels of pulled beef, slow simmered in mixed spices, piled on petite double stacked corn tortillas. I once saw a pre-teen boy ask his mother for ocho tacos and she didn’t flinch. This was at almost 11 P.M. and I wondered if she’d forgotten to give him a proper supper. A grown woman could probably devour six tacos max, but often orders are for over a dozen. This taco frenzy often leads to harrowing lines, and the crowd has led to establishments of various other enterprises surrounding the taco base camp.

A jovial man of slight stature with weathered features, Guerrero is rather proud of the birria. Yet he has no qualms sharing the basic ingredients: “pierna de res” (bottom round beef) is mixed with cumin, cloves, onion, garlic, thyme, black pepper, and Guerrero’s own blend of chiles. After hours of cooking, the result is $0.75 taco of Mexican beef stew that needs no salsa. Dinty Moore, this ain’t; Julie Child would’ve appreciated this recipe before buggering up her first boeuf bourguignon. The tortillas here are commercial, but the line gives not a care, it just demands a starch vessel to contain the holy protein. The salsa, as the neighboring tchotchkes hustler will warn you, is “hot hot” because there’s habanero. Sometimes, when bored, it’s fun to eat the tacos, then chase it with a Solo shot of the salsa.

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Though carne asada remains the most popular cut of meat here, the beef birria is the clear winner. While there are many handfuls of birria trucks roaming every parts of Los Angeles city proper, the proximity of Tacoache Solitario to the 5 freeway (and the 710), the earnestness of the Guerrero family, and the success they’ve found is a bona fide L.A. taco story that every Angeleno should appreciate. There are no PR reps and social media involved here, just a working Eastside family, serving the community and achieving enough success to send a daughter to nursing school.

Address:
SW Corner of Union Pacific Ave and Atlantic, Los Angeles, 90022: GOOGLE MAP.

Hours: Friday 6 PM-12 AM, Saturday 6 PM-1 AM, Sunday 6 PM-12:30 AM.

Photographs by Amparo Rios.

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