Last Friday night, at the end of a very, very long September, we prepared what we thought was a pretty damn good mezze dinner for some friends (obviously applying what we learned from FalafelQuest©) … and to reward ourselves for making all that food, we spent the rest of the weekend … eating more food.
Saturday featured Tacos Judith in Pomona, at 1329 W. Mission. We spotted it on Google Maps and not only hadn’t we ever eaten there, we’d never even heard of it. As reviews were positive and pointed out their hand-made tortillas, we were sold.
Tacos Judith is half-panaderia, half-taco shop, seemingly loved by locals, as it was hopping mid-Saturday afternoon. The taquera–Judith, we imagine?–had a fun bounce in her step and cheerfully churned out fresh tortillas, tacos, and quesadillas on the flat-top. The vibe was friendly, the servers were friendly, everyone seemed happy. (Because: tacos.) We got a few things, including the birria taco pictured above, which we don’t recommend–the meat wasn’t particularly spiced and hadn’t had the fat cap trimmed. But we heartily recommend the al pastor taco (with the hand-made tortilla). There’s no trompo on site, but the meat was well-seasoned and well-cooked, and the tortilla was bomb:
Sunday was a bit more of an adventure, if not the most intentional one. Feeling in need of a birria re-do, we planned to go to Pasadena to try out El Cabo Pepe’s and Teddy’s Red Tacos … but five minutes into the drive, we learned that both are closed Sundays. Sad. So we decided instead to go to one of our favorites–which should be one of everyone’s favorites, Burritos La Palma in El Monte (by way of Jerez). (Burritos La Palma is so good. We recommend: everything.)
On the way, our desire for newness got the better of us. La Palma is good–La Palma is great–but we wanted something newer. So we did the cellphone food scramble until our next stop became La Bufadora Taco Grill (El Monte location). La Bufadora is apparently known more for their fish and potato tacos, so that’s what we got: one potato, one fish, one shrimp. We don’t recommend the potato taco, but the (breaded) fish taco was your standard fish taco, meaning that it was excellent if a touch spendy ($3.50):
Did we love La Bufadora? Nah, but it was fine. It’s a Southern California chain, with 12 locations, and we’d be happy to return in a pinch. (We’ll share quickly that the best fish taco we’ve ever had was at El Rey Del Taco in Loreto, Mexico. If you get the chance, eat that one instead.)
As we were eating our Bufadora tacos, we saw, across the street, this:
Which, like, holy shit! And unlike its Pasadena location, this one was open! So we drove across the street and parked in the extremely-annoying-in-fact-maybe-the-worst-ever-in-terms-of-layout parking lot and went into Teddy’s Red Tacos for the first time in our lives. There’s been buzz around Teddy’s Tijuana-style tacos for years (once the Infatuation writes about you, the word is well out), and even though we’re not really the biggest birria folks (the Judith experience has been more common than not), we were excited to try these tacos. I mean, look at them:
These are tiny tacos for just over two bucks … and they are amazing. The beef (not goat; these are birria de res) is long- and low-stewed in a wonderful (yay!) and secret (boo!) blend of spices and chiles (hello, cloves), and each tortilla is dipped in the consomme before being grilled and topped with a sturdy little pile of moist, meaty, succulent shreds. Henceforth, unless we’re bursting with too many other tacos, we’ll be stopping at Teddy’s every time we see one. It’s that good.
On the way home, I wanted to check out one more place, more out of curiosity than hunger. I swear. I’d read about a strange taco place tucked into a liquor store/neighborhood market in Baldwin Park. It seemed to have different names, too, so the best way to figure out the truth of it was to actually seek it out. We parked outside Ramona Liquor and Deli Market, stepped inside, and saw, past the bar-long cashier counter, a tiny kitchen.
It has two names! The menu says one, another sign says another, so we’re going to call it both Cheo’s & Tacos El Guerito. Of course we couldn’t not get any tacos … we can’t help ourselves, it’s true. These were also small (I SWEAR!!), and we got the four ordinary proteins: al pastor, pollo, carnitas, and asada. The al pastor and pollo weren’t great, but the asada was excellent … and the carnitas were fantastic, honestly as good as any carnitas we’ve had in a long time: tender and chewy pork that crackled with the perfect exterior texture. The salsas were good, too, especially the smokier roja (very hot).
So if you’re ever stuck on the 10 near Baldwin Park, give yourself a break and detour a few blocks north, then duck into Ramona Liquor and Deli Market and get some killer carnitas tacos. Same with Tacos Judith and her outstanding al pastor. Or if you’re ever within even five miles of one of Teddy’s locations, stop what you’re doing, drive there, and start packing them in. You’ll thank yourself, we promise.