J's all-time favorite: KING TACO
Ahhhh, King Taco. I'd heard the stories of the carne asada, pollo and red hot salsa for years from J, who, ironically was a veggie when I met him. No, he wasn't a carrot - he was a 10-year vegetarian until I lead him away from his misguided ways. Oh now now- before you animal activists start blasting me, that was just an affectionate joke. Of course I respect the vegans and vegetarians of the world- heck, I tried the vegan thing in college (read: lots of bean and rice burritos with guacamole or french fries) and actually do cook vegetarian meals often. It's just that, being a true lover of all things food, I couldn't possibly resist the urge to try anything once I get the chance to.
J's love of King Taco started way before he even thought about vegetables. He was living with friends in East L.A. and would often visit the original King Taco on Cypress for his burrito fix. He'd told me about the burrito over and over again, and did take me once right after I met him but I remember the chile being way too hot for me....and not really much else. I think, at the time he took me, he still hadn't converted back to meat eating and settled for a non-meat item. Anyway, he did always profess his love for King Taco (and pepperoni pizzas with beer- a combo that he claims is better than life itself) even when he was a veggie.
Now that he's a few years back in the Land of Meat, we made the long-awaited return visit to the Original King Taco the other day. We were starving.......we got 2 asada burritos (mine sans salsa), 1 quesadilla and an order of chips. There's a nice, efficient system at King Taco, and only a few menu items, so it goes quickly. Line up at Window #1 and place your order, wait to hear your number and pick up at Window #2. Find a seat, then grub away.
When I saw the quesadilla, I immediately thought, "Want a little tortilla with your queso?" The plate was a lake of melted cheese and somewhere in there, I saw the flour tortilla gasping for air as it drowned in the off-white goo. Oh wait- this will be a good place for my disclaimer: although J is Mexican, I am not, nor will I ever claim to be, an authority on Mexican cuisine. Ok, phew. Anyway, I'm looking at it thinking "????" but we parked ourselves on a bench inside and dug in.
Help me, I'm downing in queso!
J started in on his asada burrito with vigor, but after two Godzilla-sized bites he says "Wait- this is YOUR burrito!" since I'd gotten mine sans beans and salsa. We swapped out and enjoyed our own burritos- mine was good, but it just didn't blow my socks off. The meat was slightly gristle-y but the rice was well seasoned but again, nothing spectacular. I know King Taco is famous....maybe I'm missing something? J, meanwhile, was as happy as Paula Deen standing next to a 1000 lb BUTTER sculture of Yoda, exclaiming, "This is the %$#!!" The both agreed that the quesadilla was ridiculous as we tried to peel the now-hardened cheese off of the tortilla. The chips were no different than store-bought, bagged chips. Overall, King Taco just isn't my cup of salsa verde, ya know?
Anyway, we'll keep returning to King Taco as long as J has the craving for it. Next time I'd like to try their roasted pollo and see if I fare any better. In the meantime, I think I'll be hittin' one of the many taco trucks in our neighborhood to get my taco fix.
The Original King Taco
1118 Cypress Ave.
Los Angeles,Ca 90065