Skip to Content

Tacos el Carnal 1 & 2 ~ Alameda St. & The Santa Monica Freeway

Orale Tacos El Carnal #2!! What's cookin' good lookin'? Cuban and Hawaiian sandwiches, huaraches, sopes, desayuno, burgers, tortas, cemitas poblanas...Mmmmnnn, sounds like my kind of girl; Flexible. Talented. And multi-faceted too. Plus, she's got an attractive friend, El Carnal #1, right next to her. She just likes to watch, I gather.


This colorful truck is slanging tacos mostly to truckers driving into the lot to bust a stream of diesel into their tanks. When I approached it from afar, it was settin' there by its lonesome, wondering why nobody could appreciate a lady with so much to offer. I locked my eyes on and scanned the goods. But yes, they had none of their listed birria and no suadero, so I stuck to the same ole, same ole pastor, asada, carnitas routine. There was a long list of taco meats available though. Some of which I bet they have on occasion.


I liked the carnitas a lot. It was not a traditional stewed, wet carnitas, just marinated, sliced, roasted pork mingling with cilantro, cebolla, and salsa roja. The tacos are little dudes, but full of generous chopped cuts of meat, and a slightly fried outer tortilla adds a lot of flavor and texture to the experience. The carnitas were extremely soft, offering no resistance as they crumbled in my maw, and the salsa is fairly spicy. This is exactly what I wanted to be eating at the time. You know that feeling?

The pastor came exactly like I likes it. It is crunchy. A crunch-fest! Captain Crunch should land and colonize its ass. It also has a lightly charred taste. The pastor's flavors are deep, sometimes zesty, sometimes mildly tasting of tomatoes and adobo. These pastor tacos were so rindy, chewing them only squeezes out more flavor as they condense like miniature sponges under your teeth. A divine texture if crackily pastor floats your boat. You also get a lemon AND a lime to flavor your food.


Now for the bad news, Carnal. The asada disappointed me. Hey, trust me, I didn't want it to, we were in it together really, but it just couldn't hold its end of the deal. Gray, dry cubes peeked out from my tortillas and I wondered if I hadn't got some lengua or buche slipped in my shite. The asada was flavorless and the consistency was a turn-off. Just boring. There might not be a second date on that one. Also, the horchata can be skipped. It looked homemade, coming out of one of those giant glass beehives, but the taste of powder rules the watery cup of tame sweetness.

But hell, 2 out of 3 ain't bad and Tacos El Carnal hits the bullseye with its carnitas and pastor, which take more expertise anyway. I would definitely recommend hitting El Carnal when and if you're downtown and leaving or entering the Fwy. They seem to have something for everyone, as evidenced by our Cuban brothers who took over the taco train riding on El Carnal's fragile frame as I was leaving. Que bola man? It ain't no fun unless we all get some!


Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Protester Whose Testicle Exploded After LAPD Officer Shot Him with ‘Less Lethal’ Firearm Receives $1.5 Million Settlement

Benjamin Montemayor had been protesting on Hollywood Boulevard for several hours on June 2, 2020, when at least 50 police officers descended upon his group and began firing munitions at the crowd, according to his civil rights lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.

May 17, 2024

Westlake’s Oldest Gay Bar Set to be Demolished

Opened in the early 1960s, the Silver Platter has long been known as a safe space for immigrant gay and transgender communities in Westlake. The building dates back to the 1920s.

May 17, 2024

What To Eat This Weekend Around L.A.: Salvadoran Fried Chicken Sandwiches, 48-Hour Pho, and Tacos Placeros

Plus, a new Enrique Olvera-approved monthly "mercadito" in D.T.L.A., a new arepa spot with patacon burgers that use fried plaintains for buns, and more in this week's roundup.

May 17, 2024

The 13 Best Tacos In Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights is arguably the city’s most important local taco galaxy in the larger taco universe that is Los Angeles. Remember, this is Boyle Heights! It's not East L.A., and it is most definitely not just some vague place known as “the Eastside.”

May 16, 2024

Here Are All the Restaurants (and the One Taquería In the Entire Country That Got a Star) On Michelin’s First Ever Mexico Guide

Europe's Michelin Guide recognized both Baja Californias, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Léon. Most of the usual nice restaurants got stars, but there were some questionable omissions. Also, in a country teeming with life-changing street food, only one taquería in the entire country was awarded "1 star."

May 15, 2024
See all posts