15 Tacos Por Favor
March 28, 2010
1408 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Fellow amateur taco enthusiast Tarik Saleh was in town with wife Elena and avid tricyclist Aida. Tarik and I have been long acquainted through the world of internet bicycle enthusiasts, in particular the iBOB mailing list, and I follow his exploits on the Moscaline blog. (Aside: I just discover that the auto spellchecker thinks “blog” is not a word. Don’t keep up with current events much, eh Microsoft Word 2002?) They were rooming near LAX, so Carmen and I arranged to meet them at highly regarded Westside taqueria Tacos Por Favor. I had a fine ride over there on my custom cargo bike, so that I could show it off to Tarik and let him take it for a test ride.
I ordered three soft tacos, one each of the carne asada, carnitas, and al pastor, and a Jarritos Limon. The tacos were $2.15 each. They were above average in size, and three of them made for a good-sized meal.
The tortillas were thick, and doubled, and had a nice leathery feel from grillage. There was absolutely no possibility of catastrophic taco failure here. I started with the carne asada. There was a light application of red salsa, but both red and green were available at a taco bar, so I added some more of the rojo. The taco was excellent, satisfying. The meat had that buttery taste of fine steak.
Next I consumed the carnitas. Delicious, yet so unlike the delicious carnitas I had yesterday at CaCao – this was the driest carnitas I’ve had this year, but in a good way. It offered al-dente resistance, short of crispy, but with good tooth feel. The flavor and color were just fine. I made liberal application of salsa roja.
Finally, I moved on to the al pastor. This is not your everyday al pastor – in contrast to the soupy al pastors I’ve had lately, this one was quite dry (Tacos Por Favor is a good choice for fans of dry tacos), and tasted very strongly of dry-rub spices. The chunks of meat were unusually large, irregularly shaped, and of fine quality. I applied salsa verde, chosen primarily for aesthetics.
Our whole party enjoyed their tacos. I was seriously tempted to try the chorizo-and-cheese taco that pioneering taco blog Great Taco Hunt raved about way back in 2005, but four tacos seemed excessive. Tarik tried it, deemed it not so good as the al pastor. Carmen raved about the hard tacos.
I was half expecting to write a review of Tacos Por Favor in which I would have to slam it as the effete choice of Westsiders afraid to venture out of their comfort zone into real taco territory; but that’s not the case at all. Tacos Por Favor is a fine taco shop with an extensive menu, and I know I’ll be back.