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Update: L.A.’s First Crispy Flauta Specialist Upgrades to a Truck…Meet ‘La Chaparrita’

11:00 AM PDT on May 22, 2020

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]f you’ve found yourself stumbling out of La Cuevita, smelling the agave on your breath after a recent bar crawl in Highland Park on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ve undoubtedly been tempted by Los Dorados LA and their crispy flautas being fried to order next to their entrance. 

If you’re a follower of the taco life and you live to live, you will give in to your altered senses and order a pair. And the crispy, juicy, and spicy euphoria that ensues will probably make you wonder: Why did it take this long for a nighttime taquero in Los Angeles to specialize in tacos dorados? 

This is the same realization that Steven Orozco Torres had last year while buzzed at a bautizo (baptism) with his suegro (father-in-law), Adolfo Martinez, who introduced him to the art of expertly fried taquitos in a makeshift setting. “He just busted out the fryer and started making tacos dorados de barbacoa with salsas and I was like, ‘son of a gun!’ This has to be out there and more people have to try this,” Orozco recounts. “I was having a beer and I had them and I was like, wow! This is fucking perfect.”

It was a sign as Orozco had been contemplating a taco dorado concept. Then his father-in-law gave him the ultimate blessing, “Well, do it!” Six months later, Los Dorados LA is one of the most exciting taqueria pop-ups to open in a few years.

Once you take your first bite and your sixth taco sense starts to flutter, it will make all the sense in the world when you find out that Orozco’s father-in-law is an owner at El Taurino in Koreatown, one of the few legacy taquerias in Los Angeles that belonged to the same family of King Taco. This explains why their familiar-tasting salsa roja (red salsa) is full-bodied, spicey, and smokey—instead of watery and bland. This also explains why their taqueria guacamole is thick and zesty rather than thin and watery. Los Dorados LA makes it rain with the cotija, too. 

“When I met my wife, I didn’t know she was part of that family, so when I found out, I was like holy crap! I went there to eat a lot growing up” Like that, Orozco became part of the taco royalty family in Los Angeles. “I started to learn about how passionate Martinez was about his food at El Taurino and saw that they never took shortcuts anywhere. They’ve prepared food the same way they have 40 years ago.” 

“If you want to keep making good food, you can’t give crap out, even if it is expensive,” his suegro advised him.

This take-no-shortcuts ethos materializes in the form of Los Dorados making their own chorizo by hand “using good pork,” Orozco shares. It means taking the initiative to be the first pop-up streete taquero to offer Hidalgo-style lamb barbacoa enchilado (where his married family is from) at night, even though it is indeed a higher-priced protein than beef and trickier to work with. It also means developing your own custom paper-thin tortilla and pressing them out of a machine yourself every week, to ensure that every single taco is as crispy as possible and that the tortilla absorbs as little oil as can be. 

Orozco is a former bartender-turned-taquero, which is why for now, you will only find Los Dorados LA popping up at bars. His first regular location is the Holiday Bar in Boyle Heights on Friday and Saturday late nights, where he grew a loyal following after he came in one night to replace the bar’s regular taquero on a whim. He’s been there ever since. His second regular location is La Cuevita in Highland Park also on Friday and Saturday late nights. Orozco used to be a manager there. That location is helmed by his loyal employee, Pablo Pérez, a dog walker by day and taquero by night. Starting next week, Los Dorados will also be at La Cuevita on Thursday nights. 

“Every flauta is very special,” Orozco affirms. “We have some more fillings coming out soon, too.” 

These tacos pick up where Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street left off. They are a more refined and lighter take of the classic L.A. street dish that is better suited for the modern Angeleno who finds themselves lard-averse for one reason or another since Los Dorados uses canola oil instead of lard, as the former institution does. Each Dodger Dog-sized taquito is crispy and a heavenly bite after a night of drinking, or anytime for that matter. 

We’re not sure why it took so long for a taquero to spot this nighttime taco dorado void in L.A.’s taco universe, but we are happy that is no longer the case. 

Update on May 27th

Los Dorados LA is back in operation and is setting up for online orders and walk-ups from 1 PM to 8 PM in front of La Cuevita in Highland Park on Fridays and Saturdays at 5922 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles. Look for their sky blue-colored vintage ice cream truck bumping cumbias and boleros. 

Follow Los Dorados LA on Instagram for their Venmo link to make an order in advance.

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