31 Tacos el Compita
June 18, 2010
4477 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
After a week of intensive burrito therapy, I was sufficiently recovered from last Sunday’s meat nightmare to eat tacos once again. Yesterday visiting taco enthusiasts Tyler and Dacia, and burgeoning taco enthusiast Althea, accompanied me to a fine luncheoning at nearby Tacos el Compita. In 2010, the magic of Google Street View allows us to scout local taquerías in advance, and thereby I determined that the Compita is a pleasing A-frame taco stand, and thus would be worth visiting on architectural grounds alone.
Diagrammatically, the A-frame building is the upside-down of the taco. In both the A-frame and the taco, structure and envelope, as a single element, are folded over to contain and protect the juicy programmatic contents.
The small Compita stand still provides a choice among distinct seating areas, several tables both inside and outside. The addition of a glass wall partially encloses and protects the exterior dining area from the noise of Pico Boulevard without detracting from the feeling of connection to the street. The rolling hills of this stretch of the city yield scenic vistas both up and down the street – mid-century cement-plaster walls against blue skies.
I ordered one each of the carne asada, al pastor, and lengua tacos. They were somewhat above average in size and a good value at $1.25 each. When we had all placed our orders with the serveur, I heard him say “nueve” to the taquero, who then placed nine pairs of tortillas on the griddle, to create the leathery, proper, bilaminated structure-cum-envelope backbone of the tacos we would soon enjoy.
After excavating them from the garnish of jalapeños, radishes and carrots, I proceeded to eat my tacos in the order implied by their arrangement on the plate. On top was lengua, my second lengua taco ever, and thus now I’m getting a better picture of what lengua comprises. The meat was grey and very moist and tender, with strong beefy flavors. Very good with the green salsa; but so far lengua has not proved to be a favorite. I was craving something more al dente.
The taco al pastor came next. It was a great taco. The al pastor has good texture with black charry bits from the griddle. Tyler admired the irregularity of size and shape of the chopped onions. The delicious red salsa is one of the hottest I’ve met this year, giving the taco a real kick that contrasts with the sweet, fruity flavors of the pork. I appreciated that the taqueros had provided green salsa on the lengua taco and red on the al pastor and asada tacos – they care enough about the singularity of each particular taco to have determined which salsa is appropriate, and serve their tacos accordingly.
I enjoyed the carne asada taco last. The power of the spicy rojo was in the driver’s seat, but the meat was very good, with some unusual characteristics. Blackened in areas on the griddle and diced very finely, the steak had winning textural variation and offered resistance to the tooth. I concluded my meal by sampling the garnish. The jalapeño was both sweet and spicy. The radish slices were blasé, nonchalant, a little R&R for the mouth.