Highland Park is a taco destination neighborhood, if there is such a thing (and I believe there is). Northeast of downtown/Echo Park, just around the corner from Dodger Stadium, (by ‘corner’ I mean Mt. Washington) Highland Park is worthy of a visit for other reasons such as the Southwestern American Museum, the Lummis House, and Footsies bar on Figueroa. But it is thankfully also host to a slew of small, homegrown establishments serving a really great, typically traditional taco.
From neighborhood landmarks, (My Taco, El Altacor) to food trucks, (La Estrella, Viva Taco Azteca, El Pique) go-to stands for excellent fish tacos (Via-Mar) to a small taco shack in the Superior Mart grocery store parking lot, (Fiesta Taco) el taco is a staple of the fast food landscape of this area.
Carnitas tacos; spicy, fried pork, (usually pork butt) in a soft-shelled taco, originating from Western Mexico, are maybe the king of this hand-held genre. Traditionally served in a fresh, hot, corn tortilla, and topped with chopped onion and cilantro, the carnitas taco is always complimented by a few squirts of the local, house hot sauce, and a squeeze of lime or lemon.
The list of tasty, carnitas taco options in and around Highland Park is long, but King Taco stands above many in its authentic simplicity and flavor. The pork is fried in thin strips, crispy on the edges with a tender middle, all tucked so sweetly inside a freshly made, corn tortilla sandwich, with a chopped onion and cilantro sprinkling.
If that isn’t enough, King Taco’s hottest of hot sauces (if you’re up for it) is maybe the best in town.
Every taco King Taco serves is filled with meat that is tender, piping hot, (the carne asada deserves a serious shout out) and cooked perfectly to preserve its juiciness. Nothing sits for very long inside King Taco’s kitchen.
As you wait in the (inevitable) line, the menu is displayed on a large board hung just in front of the order window, so you have no excuse but to have your order together by the time you reach the kitchen.
King Taco has approximately 20 locations throughout Southern California, but don’t hold that against them. Established in 1974, this company started selling tacos from a converted ice cream truck, and gives back to the So Cal community in many ways.
If I’ve been unclear, King Taco is worth the line, worth the wait, and if you can’t decide, get the carnitas. Bonus tip, the nachos satisfy a certain gooey, salty, fake-cheesy craving, if that’s what you’ve got going on.