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  • Javier Cabral: When you come tocome have tacos,

  • you come just for tacos. You don't come for comfort.

  • You don't come for, like, any kind of restaurant amenities.

  • You're here for the tacos,

  • and you eat tacos any way you can.

  • Joe Avella: We're at Avenue 26 Tacos in Lincoln Heights.

  • Over the past few years, this taco spot

  • has amassed a large following,

  • sometimes having lines around the block.

  • Look how crazy it is over here.

  • Customer: I come here about two

  • to three times a month, I'll say.

  • I'll make the drive out here, from the Valley

  • all the way here, just to get some tacos.

  • I got al pastor, and I also got buche.

  • So, this one's the buche right here.

  • But the al pastor I already ate.

  • Joe: Javier from LA Tacos is gonna be joining me,

  • and we're gonna find out why Avenue 26 Tacos are so great.

  • Javier: We are at Avenue 26 Tacos.

  • It is arguably one of LA's

  • most famous taquerias in the street.

  • We are in the neighborhood of Lincoln Heights.

  • They've been doing this for a long time.

  • They've been doing this for over 15 years,

  • and they've been consistent about it.

  • Their taco is suadero, which is braised beef brisket,

  • almost like carnitas, but it's beef.

  • I feel this spot fulfills the need of, you know,

  • when you have friends who don't know about this spot,

  • you bring them here, and you tell them,

  • "Hey I know this, like, secret spot."

  • And it's hidden, it's not on the main street.

  • And it's justit's a thrill.

  • It's a certified taco thrill.

  • Now, because of the tacos,

  • there is, I think, seven vendors.

  • Everything from, like, churros to esquites

  • to pizza now, like, brick-oven pizza,

  • so it's street-food city.

  • So, usually when you see a flat-side grill like that,

  • they're usually gonna have the standard,

  • which is suadero, al pastor,

  • and they're gonna have tripa, buche.

  • Tripa is intestine.

  • Buche is, like, the lining around pork belly.

  • And they'll have some version of

  • carne asada that will be grilled.

  • So that's kind of, like,

  • the general LA style of, like, street tacos

  • that started in, like, the '80s to late '90s,

  • and that style is really iconic LA taco.

  • Joe: All right, you wanna get some tacos?

  • Javier: Let's go eat some tacos, man.

  • Joe: Let's do it. Javier: Taco life.

  • [Joe laughs]

  • So, what I look for in a taco

  • is the swoon factor, is what I call it. Right?

  • Like, that taco euphoria that you feel when you get a bite.

  • So you get, like, a nice, tender, fatty meat.

  • People forget that a tortilla

  • amounts to 50% of a taco experience.

  • Don't forget that, like,

  • a taco cannot be a good taco without a good tortilla.

  • But I also look for, like, uniform textures

  • in, like, onion, cilantro,

  • to see that it's limes and not lemons.

  • There's a lot of little factors that account

  • into, like, the overall taco experience.

  • Joe: So, just off the bat, while we're waiting in line,

  • like, what tacos are you thinking about getting?

  • Javier: So, I'm for sure gonna get the suadero,

  • 'cause that's what they're known for here,

  • and it's actually a taco that's

  • relatively hard to find in LA.

  • You're not gonna see it everywhere.

  • Again, it's a braised beef brisket in fat,

  • and it's just slow and tender, and it's delicious.

  • I'm also gonna get al pastor, 'cause you have to.

  • I like to call that a category F5 meat tornado.

  • [dramatic music]

  • Javier: Give me one of suadero

  • Joe: Can I do the one that was your favorite?

  • Can I do the intestines one?

  • And let me do al pastor.

  • And what was some otherwhat did I miss?

  • Javier: Suadero. Suadero. Joe: Suadero, yeah.

  • Javier: And you know what? I'm feeling crazy.

  • One more of cabeza please.

  • Joe: How many did you get? Javier: I got four.

  • Joe: And I got four. Javier: Yeah, I got four.

  • Joe: OK, so we both have four.

  • Let's do it.

  • Javier: Gracias.

  • It's just a dollar.

  • It's, like, the best deal in LA.

  • Javier: Yeah, you can't get any cheaper.

  • So, if you're in the know,

  • you go and ask for a potato.

  • Joe: Yeah. This thing over here, it's, like,

  • cooking oil, right? Or butter or lard? What is that?

  • Javier: Some people use lard; some people use oil.

  • That's their secret.

  • But they're dropping a potato in there,

  • and it just, like, cooks until it's

  • buttery and, like, beautiful.

  • Joe: I want one. I want a potato.

  • Javier: Let's get a potato.

  • This is why this place is special.

  • There aren't many other places in LA

  • that will give you a freaking potato.

  • If you're here,

  • and you're happy to spend, like, a dollar per taco,

  • and you get a potato while you're at it.

  • So, before we eat, I know we're starving,

  • but there's one final touch

  • that, if you see it in a taqueria, get it.

  • It's, like, the caramelized onions

  • that are actually fried or grilled

  • in the own beef fat of the actual tacos.

  • Or the pork fat.

  • Not all taquerias have it, but if they do,

  • just go and get it.

  • It's right here. Yeah, so.

  • Yeah, it's literally, like,

  • caramelized onions or grilled onions.

  • I mean, raw onions in a taco is amazing,

  • but grilled onions just adds

  • another layer of richness to it.

  • Joe: Do you normally put, like, salsas

  • Javier: Of course. A taco without salsa is just

  • Joe: Was that a stupid question that I just asked?

  • Javier: I think that was a very stupid question,

  • but don't worry, man. It's good. It's good.

  • Before we add any salsa, definitely get some limes

  • to make sure that the lime juice actually hits

  • the meat and the tortilla before the salsas,

  • 'cause, you know, you get more flavor that way.

  • It adds a nice little layer of, like, refreshing acid,

  • which you need when you're eating these fatty meats.

  • Last but not least, because vegetable and fiber, maybe,

  • you know, get some radishes.

  • I like to get a couple

  • just to say that I've had some vegetables today.

  • Joe: Oh, OK.

  • Javier: You know, get, like, a nice little handful.

  • And you also put some lime and salt on those,

  • so you kind of create a quick pickle. You know?

  • You gotta get some fiber in your body somehow.

  • My rule of thumb is: When all else fails, green.

  • Joe: OK.

  • Javier: Because green is acid, tartness.

  • If you can't hang any heat, usually the watery red ones

  • are always gonna be the best for you.

  • Joe: I'll try a little bit of heat.

  • Javier: Yeah, normally a taqueria will always have

  • green, red, and a taqueria guacamole,

  • which is like a thinner, watered-down guacamole,

  • so it's more saucy instead of gloppy.

  • Sometimes the guacamole replaces the green salsa,

  • or sometimes the green salsa replaces the guacamole.

  • Yeah, that's it. And then we're ready to eat, man.

  • Joe: All right, let's go eat.

  • I'm starving, dude.

  • Javier: Some people eat it inside of their car,

  • sitting down in front of the steering wheel.

  • Others prop the food down on the

  • either in the hood of their car,

  • and just eat, like, you know,

  • you have to have, like, that 90-degree angle down

  • so you don't get any salsa all over you.

  • Joe: Mm! The potato.

  • You know it's been simmering in that oil

  • for a while.

  • Javier: California used to be part of Mexico,

  • and some people say that it never stopped being Mexico

  • because some tacos, like the tacos that you get here,

  • are so delicious

  • and so close to what you would actually find in Mexico.

  • Rule No. 1 of finding good tacos

  • is actually stopping and trying them.

  • Joe: [laughs] That's a good point.

  • Javier: Because there are so many here in LA,

  • your first reaction to

  • when you drive by or walk by a taqueria

  • is you look it up online to see reviews or something,

  • but I'm telling you, screw all that,

  • just stop and have a taco

  • and see if you like it personally.

  • And, like, you'll be surprised.

  • Sometimes you'll find some great spots

  • that haven't really been, you know,

  • written about or celebrated as much.

  • Street food in LA is there

  • to serve its immediate neighborhood.

  • And if you're lucky enough to drive by or walk by

  • and you findand it smells good, and it looks good,

  • and you see a crowd of people around it,

  • stop by and try it.

  • That's the best way you're gonna find out if it's good.

  • The first taco that I always get

  • at a spot that offers it is cabeza,

  • because you can really learn a lot on

  • how they treat their cabeza.

  • Joe: How is that?

  • Javier: Cabeza is steamed cow head.

  • If you don't know what toif you're indecisive,

  • I usually always go for cabeza

  • because it's hard to mess up,

  • and it's like, who doesn't love, like,

  • just tender stewed braised meat with salsa?

  • Suadero is, like, the hardest one to find in LA.

  • It's like carnitas but with beef,

  • so it's, like, slowly braised in lard

  • until it gets crisped up and it gets tender,

  • and that's really hard to find,

  • so that's actually really good here too.

  • Just two months ago, in 2020,

  • they finally legalized street food in LA.

  • Through lots of outreach,

  • people in LA who love street food got together,

  • and they fought for the rights of street vendors here.

  • It took, like, around a decade of work

  • to work through the bureaucracy of the city

  • to finally legalize street vending in LA.

  • If you come to LA, some of your most happiest moments,

  • or most memorable moments,

  • that you'll have when visiting the city is, like,

  • probably will be tacos after a show.

  • Or, like, a bacon-wrapped hot dog after, you know,

  • when you come out of a concert and you smell

  • the smell of bacon.

  • Street food is so essential to the city,

  • and it took this long for

  • the politicians to finally realize that

  • and try to make change and make it legalized.

  • People love to come to a taqueria and, like,

  • fulfill their need of, like, a nice,

  • greasy in a good way, just rib-sticking taco,

  • and these tacos fulfill that because it's a lot of meat,

  • you know, the salsa bar is, like, there for you

  • so you can put as much as you want

  • and suffer as much as you want.

  • And I think the No. 1 thing about it is, like,

  • people love the concept of a dollar taco,

  • and this is one of the last-standing taquerias in LA

  • that still charges a dollar per taco.

Javier Cabral: When you come tocome have tacos,