I find it quite puzzling sometimes, the places that you can find good food. Forget themes of organic, farm to table, or locally sourced artisanal goods. Some of these places are downright scary and walk the fine line between clean and sanitary. A lot of the best tacos I have had in LA and SoCal have come from such places. Maybe it is really a laser beam-like focus that allows them to just do what they do best. No decor, no real seating, nothing that is not disposable, and definitely no frills. Even the quality of ingredients can be slightly inferior, but it is inarguable that magic can be made from them.
But don’t let the outer appearances of Boca Del Rio thwart you from some of the finest tacos in the city. I first discovered these more than 20 years ago, and happy to say that nothing has changed. Well, maybe the neighborhood has gotten a bit better so you no longer have to worry about drive-by shootings as you eat on their outdoor benches. It is still owned by the same Korean family and some of the guys cooking up the tacos are still there. Despite its multicultural make-up, these are not the fusion tacos that brought Roy Choi and his Kogi truck to fame.They are not really the traditional Mexican street tacos either, as they come with your choice of meat (carne asada, carnitas, barbacoa, lengua), chopped onions/cilantro, chopped cabbage, and grated cheese. For a little bit extra they will slap on a mound of fresh made guacamole and sour cream. But the true joy is in the secret sauce. Their red chile sauce (salsa roja) is very spicy and should be used sparingly by those not well versed in piquancy. The heat will hit your palate immediately with alternate cooling intervals from the guacamole and sour cream. The salsa verde is a milder tomatillo based sauce that is equally as good. Whichever sauce you choose, you will be have a lasting garlicky flavor in your mouth for at least a day or two.
If you are not feeling tacos, you can also get any of the meats as a burrito version. But just be aware that it will be a double-fisted endeavor as they are pretty well endowed in girth. But whatever you do, don’t ask to buy some bottles of sauce to take home, as tempting as it may be. The owner is extremely paranoid about someone stealing his secret sauce. He still gives me the evil eye from when I asked 20 years ago.
Don’t underestimate the power of this little taco shack. I remember at its peak when lines were going down the street, they were pulling in over $100,000 per month. Hard to believe a place like this can bring in over a million a year on tacos!
Bill total = 3 tacos, 1 burrito, 1 large drink = about $15 ($8 per person)