January 7, 2015
First Taste of LA
You can smell the rich scent of the beef cooking from halfway down the block. So that is, of course, the first thing that you order at Mexicali Taco & Co. The name makes it sound a lot fancier than it is. This is a humble place on an odd stretch of Figueroa Street – not quite Chinatown, not quite downtown – where the tacos are a fine example of simplicity.
The carne asada taco is just that – grilled beef, hacked into chunks and slipped onto a flour tortilla (the owners bring them up from Baja, and they're fantastic). You dress the taco yourself, from the bar in the back, where you have a choice of salsas, and an entire array of vegetables: cucumbers, radishes, pickled red onions. This is made totally to your own taste.
There are other great options here. Vegetarian tacos, filled with mushrooms, zucchini and a single grilled scallion. Tacos de camaron, the Baja way, with cheese.
Something called a vampiro, which also involves cheese and lots of garlic. Guacamole, of course, which is particularly good spooned onto the gueros – those completely addictive whole chiles pictured at the top.
If you like food that's made with pride, with good ingredients, and with such simplicity that there's nothing to hide behind, then this is the taco for you.
702 N Figueroa St., Los Angeles (213) 613-0416, Mexicali Taco & Co.
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