They can be seen on any number or corners though the sprawling cityscape, or tucked in the open lots of auto repair shops or car washes. Often as well known as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and as recognizable to any native Angelino as the city skyline, taco trucks pepper and play an integral role in Los Angeles' food culture.
When it comes to taco trucks, most everyone has a local, a favorite, and an opinion. Though to anyone who has moved or plans on visiting Los Angeles, the taco scene of the city can be a difficult language to learn. Which is why an easy gauge and guide to figuring out which taco truck fits you best can be through one of its staple, and most talked about items, al pastor.
Commonly ordered and consumed in tacos, al pastor (in Spanish, Shepherd's style) is a grilled and flavored pork that is cooked on a gas flame while turning on a vertical spit. The spit is often a standout at any truck emanating a delicious red-orange glow, and is usually seen monitored by a chef who will ever-so-casually shave off the amount to order.
The pastor has its roots in Mexico City, with the arrival of Middle Eastern immigrants who would similarly cook doner kebab and shawarma on an open air spit. The style soon caught on throughout Mexico, traveling north and making a second home in Los Angeles. The preparation, care, and variety in seasoning and cooking al pastor is what makes it stand out and unique at any taco truck.
For any newcomer, finding the best pastor can be an exercise in seeing one of the favorite local fanfares in action. Either choosing a truck by sight or smell, its an excellent way to meet new people and see the city. And, to top it off, it's delicious.