Our People’s Judge winner Melissa Hidalgo said it best, "There's more to life than tacos, but not much more."
LA Weekly’s 5th annual Tacolandia, curated by our own Bill Esparza, brought the masses to El Pueblo de Los Angeles for some of the best taqueros and vendors from Southern California, Mexico and beyond. Chefs showcased experimental plays on Mexi classics while the OG’s kept it old skool, alongside innovative and bold taco combinations throughout the festival.
The #tacogram was strong, for it was a day filled with delicious tastes and plenty of deliberation on who had the best tacos. Our Mexican-in-Chief was responsible for curating this year's panel of judges who passionately defended their tacos when it finally came down to choosing the winners. The four categories were as follows: Vendy Cup (17 entries), Traditional (20 entries), New School (23 entries), and Tabasco (19 entries). After much consideration, numerous bites, locating Lalo Alcaraz (our wandering juez) and full panzas the 2017 winners are….
This category challenged participants to incorporate the legendary pepper sauce. It was Gracias Señor that took home the grand prize of $1,000 for an outstanding TABASCO taco. The luxe lonchera managed to uniquely feature the red sauce’s peak flavor and heat in their beer battered fish taco. A moist tilapia filet encrusted in a piquant crispy batter, topped with fresh pico de gallo and crema on top of a chewy blue corn tortilla.
The blistering sun didn’t stop legendary Baja California chef Javier Plascencia from personally handing out each beef head birria taco mojado. Pushing the taco forward, Finca Altozano came to win with their crunchy taco and consomme. We later came to find out that the secret ingredient in their smoked birria broth was shiitake mushrooms (!)
Chef Rocio Camacho, also known as La Diosa de los Moles (The Goddess of the Moles), came repping Bell Gardens with her beloved mole verde and mancha mantel in taco form. Garnished with thinly sliced serrano, pickled red onion and cilantro — the feels were all there. Add a fresh flour tortilla, and we have a winner.
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Beating out 16 other challengers with their #aporkalypse taco is Carnitas El Momo. Our chingona judge, Cristela Alonzo (Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3( best described their taco: “In their carnitas taco you get all your favorite parts and textures, it’s like menudo.” And it’s true: you can truly taste the love and dedication that comes from Romulo Acosta’s enormous copper pot — 50 years of slowly simmering the best surtido in Los Angeles, spoke for itself on top a tortilla hecho a mano and covered in robust salsa verde.
Congratulations to all the Tacolandia winners who came and proved why taco trucks should be on every corner. See you next year!