>> Tire Shop Taqueria/Taqueria San Miguel | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday 29 June 2020

Tire Shop Taqueria/Taqueria San Miguel

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mร‰XICO (Baja California)

EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (26 January 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
Even if you are not following the latest and greatest trends on Instagram and reading food media constantly, the plumes of smoke that emanate from this South Los Angeles taco stand during the evening will eventually come into your life. They are the first sign of something special. The second is the fantastic smell that comes inside your car windows on a nice night as you cruise on Avalon.

The third sign, and what seals the deal, is the perpetual line of hungry souls always here waiting for their turn to order. Finding a place to park nearby is not usually all that hard, as most of the businesses in the area are closed for the night and besides tacos and laundry, not much is happening once the sun goes down.

For years, this stand had no formal name and English speakers would refer to it "Tire Shop Taqueria," a name that even shows up still on Google Maps. The stand always set up in the parking lot of the tire shop called El Jarocho, so the name was fitting and fun. References to the stand by Spanish speakers often called it "El Jarocho Tacos," for the same reason.

While the tire shop has apparently moved on recently, and the stand has switched parking lots to the other side of the building, the name remains. Feeling the need to give themselves a brand, signs for "Taqueria San Miguel" have been up for a couple years now, but if you told someone that was your destination, absolutely no one would know what you were talking about.

One thing remains constant, this operation is truly professional and that line which seems daunting always moves very quickly. By the time you get your bearings and start to think about your order, the first lady will approach you asking how many quesadillas and mulitas you want. She will press large tortillas for those and get them started before you reach the first station. There you will find the constant pressing of more masa for all of the tacos.

When you reach the taquero, your order for tacos is taken and the real show begins. He grabs the proper amount of tortillas, cuts all the meat, and starts flipping salsa and everything else into the air and down into your taco. Each one is made in under ten seconds even if you did order con todo.

When answering affirmative for that at a Baja-style stand, it lands you avocado salsa in addition to their delicious red salsa, chopped onions, and cilantro. On the grill to the taquero's left you will notice long, thin cuts of carne asada and bright red chorizo sausages charring, together the reason for that smoke noticeable from nearby blocks.

Those should be your hint on what to order here, both are what this stand does best. The cabeza is pretty good, the al pastor is fine, but these can be found better elsewhere in the city so resist the urge to diversify and concentrate.

Each taco is large, and made with just one of their handmade tortillas, a bit thicker than standard. These hold up very well and don't leave half the meat in your lap while also providing a corn flavor boost to your bites, something most tortillas these days cannot claim.

There are a few tables, but seating is limited. Come with someone that needs a chair and undoubtedly one will be freed by another patron for them. Just hang out for a bit and your group will be able to sit, as turnover is high. Everyone is in a good mood from eating such good tacos, and they know the drill.

Taking a bite of that first carne asada taco here is an experience you will always remember. The slices of skirt steak seem to be vacuum-sealed with smokiness, the cuts of meat juicy and tender. It is a wonder that the price is not double for such high quality.

With such a bright color, the taste of the chorizo has a lot to live up to. Somehow, it not only does that, but surpasses the expectations by miles, the spices in each bite are quite extraordinary. The balance of every ingredient, including their spicy red salsa makes you wonder about all the times you put a mediocre taco in your body.

An order of the mulita (below) can be a good way to combine the two meats, but otherwise is an absolute gut bomb. Since their tortillas are thick, it becomes a bit heavy with masa, without enough cheese to balance. It is quite full of meat though, and again very high value. If this is to your taste, you will not be disappointed.

After sitting down and getting your hands free, don't forget to grab some of the complimentary beans and grilled onions to round our your meal, and order one of their homemade aguas frescas to wash it all down.

Is there room for another taco or two? Probably.

The lavanderia does not like taco customers.

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