Legions of taco lovers came out to the park on a stunningly beautiful day to enjoy the fares of nearly a dozen of the finest taco purveyors. The most fascinating aspect of the event wasn’t the quality of the tacos (which was superb across the board), but rather how many different types were available. Tacos Árabes was serving a Middle Eastern-influenced taco popular in Central Mexico, while Plant Food for People offered an alternative for vegans, with wonderfully seasoned jackfruit as the protein. The rest was a dizzying array of everything in between. Everyone around me was having a blast with this madness.
Eating as many tacos as I did, with our homegrown DJ’s grooves bumping through the air, the day progressed more and more into an daze. Arteries constricted, my lips burned from the ghost chili pepper sauce in Mexicali’s delectable blue corn tortilla tacos, and the pages of my notepad became increasingly transparent from the oils on my fingers. Is this what it’s like to be Anthony Bourdain on an epicurean glutfest? Perhaps, but what I do know is that from this wonderful cacophony, 3 deserving winners emerged.
For my first-ever recognition of superior taco-making in 3 categories at Grand Park’s ¡Taco Madness!, I award the following talented institutions:
The ‘Make Your Abuelita Jealous’ taco award goes to: FRIDA TACOS
It’s clear that Chef Vicente Del Rio is very interested in a classic, solid taco. It had asada, carnitas and chicken tacos all topped the same way and they were fantastic. All elements were cooked and prepared very well, with a marvelous yin-yang balance between their guac sauce and chili de arbol sauce. I can see abuelita giving Vicente the stink eye.
The ‘Taco to Take Home to Meet Mom’ award goes to: GUERILLA TACOS
A sweet potato taco with Oaxacan cheese, braised leeks, almond chili, chives and fried corn is not only worthy of meeting mom and making a good impression, it would be a winner with the whole family at Christmas or Thanksgiving. There were so many surprising flavors and textures, all unified and working together to create a classy (vegetarian!) experience. It’s a keeper.
The ‘Alright, Alright, Alright…’ taco award goes to: CARNITAS EL MOMO
When I took my first bite of this simple yet breathtakingly succulent carnitas taco, the rest of the world disappeared for a moment. It was just me, a tortilla, and über-savory pig parts (stomach, shoulder, skin) that had been cooked in their own fat. No fixings were needed. The Acosta family makes the best damn carnitas ever, and when they make a taco with it, well then, alright, alright, alright…
Ebner Sobalvarro, Grand Park’s resident foodie.