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Arleta

Tacos Al Vapor ~ North Hollywood

12:00 PM PDT on May 15, 2008

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    Tacos Al Vapor ~ 20906 Brandford Ave. ~ Arleta

    As night was falling with the sun we drove deeper into the valley on Laurel Canyon Blvd. It looked as if everybody had gone home for the day; everybody, that is, except Tacos Al Vapor and their wheels of steel. Home is where the hunger is, and Tacos Al Vapor was just getting started for the evening. An orange taco truck specializing in tacos de cabeza, al vapor, was not what we expected to find on this relatively barren stretch of N. Hollywood auto shops and warehouses. But, evidently, countless taco lovers know exactly where it's at.

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    Here you see two tacos de cabeza and a taco al pastor, all smothered in Tacos Al Vapor's home-made salsa molido, a wicked creation. This extra fresh, hand ground salsa was hiding under tinfoil because it threatened to catch fire, even in a bed of ice. The amiable crew of Tacos Al Vapor, apparently mother and son, originally hail from Jalisco, Mexico. They decorate all taco plates with grilled sweet onions and a split jalapeño. The onions are all sweetness and softened up just enough to slurp down like you were the lizard king.

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    I went into these tacos like a house on fire. There's no going back once you fire up your engine with that jalapeño slice. The cabeza meat is wet with flavorful fatty juices, consumated in a fire of salsa molido. While one could potentially swallow these great tacos whole, chewing discovers fatty morsels which pleasingly cling to my molars. One taco de cabeza to satiate the appetite, a second one to savor. Exceptional as the cabeza is at Tacos Al Vapor, the al pastor is a strong finisher. The diced morsels suggest strong flavor coverage from the spit. A measured amount of post-cut love from the grill adds a little crisp to lock in the best of a flavor you know so well. Try a piña (pineapple) flavored Jarritos with your al pastor. Tacos Al Vapor brings home-made recipes and food to a barren stretch of Laurel Canyon Blvd. They bring strangers together. They bring comfort and sustenance to wandering warriors of the road, the lost and looking for something better. They give us the strength to drive on.

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