49 El Bronco Taquería
October 3, 2010
5427 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Garrett, Kirsten, Damien, Carmen and I had decided to go for lunch tacos and El Bronco was nearby. Finding only three reviews on Yelp! going back to 2006 confirms one’s observation that El Bronco is not the kind of place that attracts Yelp! users. Situated in an inconspicuous, compact wedge of strip mall at the corner of Venice and Hauser next to staple businesses like a donut shop, a cleaners and a cambio de cheques, El Bronco serves its neighborhood but probably doesn’t attract many people from across town; but as we found today, their tacos are solidly above average.
We were surprised to find a spacious and sunny dining room, and though El Bronco has a deli-style counter for ordering takeout, we enjoyed table service, starting with two complimentary bowls of chips and salsa for our table. The salsa was rich and flavorful, tasting of roasted peppers and a dark chocolatyness reminiscent of Oaxacan mole. I ordered one each of the carne asada, al pastor, and carnitas tacos at $1.40 each, confirming that yes I wanted onion and cilantro; and a half-liter bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola.
Tacos were in about the 65th percentile for size. The tortillas were well prepared – doubled, slightly leathery without being oily, showing some browning marks from griddling. Served without salsa, I spooned some on from the bowls provided with the chips. I ate the carnitas first (listed generically as “puerco/pork” on the menu) – it was atypical, small cubes of deep-fried pork with crisp and sizzle. It is similar to the “Popeye’s Chicken” carnitas at Chulada Grill, and reminiscent of the pork that comes with yuca con chicharrón at a Salvadorean restaurant – a tasty pleasure to be enjoyed in moderation.
Next I ate the al pastor (per the menu, “pork w/ condiments”, which FYI is not the best way to sell it to people like me). It’s pretty good – tender, neither grilly nor saucy, and thoroughly marinated. I detected a hint of fruit flavor which seemed familiar but I could not place – Garrett correctly identified it as apple. I don’t know if it really was apple, but that’s what it resembled.
Last I ate the carne asada. Moist and steaky, this had a reasonable quantity of the garlic-and-onion-powdery carne asada seasoning known to inspire the kind of cravings that make you finish a whole bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos that you were foolish enough to open. One has to consider use of this stuff as kind of a cheap tactic to make tacos have crack-like addictiveness; but there exist many varieties of delicious.