Yes, I’m categorizing this post as both NBA & Vittles just so I can show you this video of D.J. Mbenga.
TACOS!! Honestly, why D.J., already something of a human victory cigar for the Lakers (at least when Bynum and Gasol are healthy), is not involved in some sort of jumbotron schtick where can join Staples Center patrons in chanting “WE WANT TACOS!” during a Lakers win, is beyond me.
Perhaps it is because D.J. knows that eating said free tacos would be a travesty. The only situations in which anyone should eat Jack in the Box Tacos generally occur after 2 am, and involve dangerous amounts of illegal substance abuse. Instead, D.J.’s cry of “TA-COS!” strikes me as an entreaty, a desperate request, for someone to find a better taco, a taco worthy of being associated with the Los Angeles Lakers, a taco so good, that it can be eaten both in victory and in defeat.
To paraphrase Dean Wormer, the time has come for someone to put their shitty taco down, and that taco is me.
I am thus going to make it my Quixotic quest to find the best damn taco in all of L.A., from Venice Beach to Boyle Heights, down to El Segundo and up to Altadena.
Of course, how do we define what the “best” taco is? After all, as the slavering hordes at the Staples Center show, people will eat pretty much anything resembling a taco. On the opposite end of the spectrum, as delicious as gourmet dining may be, I’m not looking for a Kobe Beef Braised in Foie Gras-Red Wine Reduction In Truffle-Cream Garnished with Seared Ahi Slivers on an Organic Polenta Tortilla-Style Discus. I’m looking for a down-home, quick and delicious taco, the kind where you can eat 6 of them and, over the groaning protests of your digestive system, cry out for another order, and actually afford to get it. In order to bring some scientific rigor to this process, I thus proudly present the Dan Siegal Ideal Taco Rubric:
Tacos are graded on a 1-10 scale in each of the following five categories, with a final score being calculated based on a top-secret formula (the secret is that I am just assigned all of these numbers).
Being as I am a pretty hardcore gringo, I’m not the authoritative judge on these matters, but I do speak Spanish and know many Mexicans. Basically – how close to a traditional taco – tortilla and meat – does this specific taco come? How many fucked-up types of cow meat are there to order? Do I feel slightly afraid for my personage when I eat the taco? The number of white people seen dining at a taco spot also impacts this score.
How good is the meat, in and of itself? Is the carnitas savory, crispy and succulent at the same time? Is the carne asada tender and flavorful? Or does it resemble the gray droppings of some unknown sewer-dwelling creature?
An underrated part of the taco. If they suck, your taco experience is going to suffer, not matter what else is going on up in that bitch.
Don’t serve me a taco without some onion, cilantro, salsa roja, and lime, please.
This has a direct correlation to how many of your tacos I can eat, and thus is pretty fucking important.
The current reigning taco place in my heart is Lilly’s Tacos, in downtown Santa Barbara, and my inability to go there is a source of inspiration for this endeavor. After a delicious cow cheek taco from Lilly’s, the same ol’ meat-in-tortilla just won’t suffice.
If this sounds like something you could be interested in, please leave the names of any taco places I should try in the comments. If you wish to join me on a taco expedition, we can make that happen. If you don’t like tacos, get the fuck out of here and never come back.