So, who makes the best Al Pastor Tacos in LA?
First of all, let’s discuss the history of Al Pastor Tacos. Like many things we love, it is a combination of different cultures ( for example tomatoes only made it to Italy after the discovery of the Americas, and pasta comes from China).
I love al pastor tacos and have indulged in them when traveling in Mexico. I did a road trip with my Italian friend and we drove from the Quintana Roo through the Yucatatan eating tacos all the way! You can usually spot the al pastor tacos because the meat is stacked proudly on an open-air spit attracting passersby – sometimes with a pineapple on top. You know them as tacos al pastor, and their origin story is fascinating.
Tacos al pastor were created in the 1930s in Puebla, Mexico, by Lebanese immigrants who introduced the region to classic shawarma: which is roast lamb served on a flour tortilla or pita bread (pan árabe). This creation was originally known as tacos árabes, and used meat cooked on a vertical, or upright, grill. You can see a variation of this in Greece (Gyros), or in Turkey (Doner).
Chef Marc Meyer of Manhattan’s Rosie’s says “The technique of cooking meat on a vertical spit would eventually evolve into tacos al pastor, but the main difference is that tacos árabes usually use lamb. In addition, the meat in tacos al árabes isn’t marinated; it has a more simple salt seasoning, and it’s served with a flour tortilla.”
When the grill moved from Puebla to other areas of Mexico it changed into Marinated pork placed on a spit and, of course, onions and cilantro were added to the mix.
Here is how tacos al pastor are made:
- Marinate thin slices of pork in chiles like Guajillo, achiote or adobo for 3-4 hours
- Stack the meat on a spit (trompo)
- Put some pineapple on top
- As the meat cooks the outside gets crispy, shave it off for the tacos. The meat bastes itself as it cooks.
- add salsa, cilantro, onion, and PINEAPPLE – nobody knows how this tradition started but it is decidedly UMAMI (sweet and salty).
So, what are LA’s best places to get authentic tacos al pastor? We asked our community and here are the results:
1. Angel’s Tijuana tacos – 4211 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065
2. Leo’s Taocs – www.leostacostruck.com