58 Worldwide Tacos
December 4, 2010
2419 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Worldwide Tacos may be the most idiosyncratic of the taco shops I have visited thus far. This idiosyncrasy can be quantified with two numbers: 154, which is the number of varieties of tacos listed on their menu; and 105, which is the number of minutes we waited today to be served our taco order.
Damien and I met at Worldwide this afternoon and put in an order for six tacos at about 1:00 PM. Our order hints at the diversity of fusiony options available on the menu – we ordered one each of the Jerk Chicken; Chili-Cheese Beef; Curry Beef; Grill Carne Asada; Raspberry Chipotle Chicken; and Thai Chicken tacos. Taco prices ranged between $2.95 and $3.85 each. We paid at the little window facing King Boulevard, and left a phone number on which to be called when the food was ready. We were warned by the serveuse that it would take 45 minutes. I’m glad she didn’t say it would take an hour and 45 minutes, though, because I might have lost my nerve.
Time on our hands to be killed, we walked down King as far as Crenshaw before turning around. About 45 minutes had passed. We talked about all the things that there are to talk about. We then encamped in the Worldwide parking lot. A corrugated metal canopy extends from the west side of the building, sheltering a few surprisingly comfortable chairs, making an ideal vantage point to spend an hour watching the traffic on King Boulevard, admiring the International Orange façade and ad hoc detailing of the Worldwide Tacos stand, and sneaking peeks through the window hoping for a glimpse of our tacos.
At 2:00, an hour had passed and our tacos were late. I gradually became convinced that, despite the hype about how awesome and totally-worth-the-wait Worldwide’s tacos are, they couldn’t possibly be good, because surely tacos that take an hour must be the soggified result of inattentive cooks. By 2:30 we were both waxing eloquent about how damn hungry we were, acknowledging also that any food would be greatly enjoyed at this point; not to mention increasing awareness of a nagging sense of fullness emanating from the the urinary bladder region of the torso. Should we walk down to 7-11 for a Big Bite to hold us over? Our number came up at 2:45. About four customers were served their tacos during the hour we waited.
We sped off to my nearby home for the eating, and somewhat to my surprise at this point, I found all the tacos quite tasty. They were not soggified and seemed fresh even after a car ride home to the Village Green. You might be thinking, of course they’re good, otherwise why would they have customers despite the slowness? Clearly the Worldwide business model is best suited to a clientele based in the neighborhood that can keep otherwise busy while waiting for their number to be rung.
Worldwide’s delicious tacos are exclusive. The fact that they are so hard to get only makes them more desirable – rarer and more delicious, like any hard-to-find delicacy. Being forced to wait strips away your sense of self-importance. Think you’ve got stuff to do today? Fuck you, your whole afternoon is now at the mercy of some tacos. These tacos field-strip you down and reduce you to your bare trembling essence. Enlightenment in the form of tacos is only delivered when you have been humbled, redeemed. You must release the ego and accept the fate. You end up with a kind of taco Stockholm Syndrome.
Featured in the photograph are the carne asada taco (in the “crunchy” tortillaway) and the raspberry chipotle chicken taco (in the “soft” tortillaway). I ate the carne asada first. The details are getting fuzzy in my recollection, but I found it delicious this afternoon. The lettuce was fancy, the tortilla shell with just the right oily crunchiness; the hot sauce pretty spicy, the cheese strings fine and melty. The steak was good, satisfyingly a bit chewy like a real steak cut.
The raspberry chipotle chicken taco is fascinating. The soft tortilla worked well, seeming similar to the crunchy tortilla but halfway fried rather than fully fried. The thick fruity compote in the taco called to mind raspberry jam. Chicken chunks were large and satisfying.
Thai chicken featured peanut sauce and curry, with big chicken chunks. The curry beef resembled the carne asada, with the addition of a moderately spicy curry sauce. I enjoyed them all. Damien thought that the jerk chicken was the best. My favorite permutation was probably the beef and the crunchy shell. Tacos of interest for my next visit include the Meatball, Orange Beef, B.B.Q. Beef, and Beef Pastrami. I would be glad to go back to Worldwide Tacos, and it’s not just about the tacos, but about the masochistic pleasures of being brought to my knees waiting for deferred gratification.