The Taco Task Force previously tackled Baja style fish tacos and birria. With some hope, and more than a little trepidation, Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet L.A., Javier Cabral (The Glutster) and I reconvened on March 20 at the Glutster’s behest to determine which L.A. restaurant produces the best potato taco. Matthew Kang (Mattatouille) was out of town, no doubt trying to duck what turned out to be a fool’s mission, but he eventually made the rounds and contributed his ratings.
There were certain factors we assessed at each stop, including the quality of the key ingredient, the condiments/tortilla, the quality of the cooking and the overall flavor.
Here’s my rundown, with interspersed scoresheets featuring Jo for Joshua, B for Bill, Ja for Javier, and M for Matthew. We rated each category using a 5-point scale. Keep in mind that the scores don’t just represent a potato taco, they reflect a taco. In theory, a 5-point potato taco should be just as good as a 5-point birria taco. In theory…
STOP #1: Cacao Mexicatessen
1576 Colorado Boulevard, Eagle Rock, 323 478 2791
The cooking of Cacao is rooted in Michoacan, where chef Christy Lujan’s mom grew up. Her Taco de Papa ($2.75) involved a crunchy blue corn tortilla that Lujan fried to order and loaded with red potatoes that were crushed with rajas (roasted Poblano chilies). She dressed the tacos with shredded lettuce, salty crumbled cotija and tangy salsa verde made from tomatillo and a hint of chile de arbol. Even though the essential potatoes were underseasoned, there were enough interesting elements to set the potato bar fairly high for the rest of our crawl.
Grade of Key Ingredient: Jo 3, B 2.5, Ja 3, M 2 AVERAGE 2.625/5
Condiment/Tortilla: Jo 2.5, B 2.5, Ja 3, M 2.5 AVERAGE 2.625/5
Overall Flavor: Jo 2.5, B 1.5, Ja 2, M 2 AVERAGE 1.875/5
Cooking: Jo 3, B 2.5, Ja 3.5, M 3 AVERAGE 3/5
OVERALL CACAO MEXICATESSEN TACO SCORE: 2.53125/5
STOP #2: My Taco
6300 York Boulevard, Highland Park, 323 256 2698
My previous experiences at My Taco had all been positive, dating to my initial visit in 2008. Unfortunately, their potato taco took me by surprise, and not in a good way. The russet taco ($1.50) was topped with shredded Monterey Jack, lettuce and diced tomato. The potato and tortilla were fried together, leading to a pretty greasy result. The tacos came with chunky guac, but the more interesting condiments came from the fully stocked salsa bar. I enjoyed the spicy chipotle salsa and tangy escabeche with onion, carrot and jalapeno, but neither additive had the power to redeem the unspectacular base.
Grade of Key Ingredient: Jo 2, B 2, Ja 3, M 3 AVERAGE 2.5/5
Condiment/Tortilla: Jo 2, B 2, Ja 2.5, M 3 AVERAGE 2.375/5
Overall Flavor: Jo 2, B 2, Ja 3.5, M 3.5 AVERAGE 2.75/5
Cooking: Jo 2, B 2, Ja 3, M 3 AVERAGE 2.5/5
OVERALL MY TACO TACO SCORE: 2.53125/5