If you live in the great eastern suburbs, the question is settled: When you want barbacoa, that great Central Mexican dish of lamb slow-roasted with maguey leaves, you go to Aqui es Texcoco. But if you happen to be in Boyle Heights, you are probably going to end up at La Barbacha, a formidable barbacoa specialist on the former site of the beloved Antojitos Carmen, slinging lamb in every configuration from single tacos all the way up to fragrant whole lambs.
The lamb is spoon-tender where appropriate and crisped at the edges where not, and is served — as is customary — with a bowl of bland lamb consommé with chickpeas whose purpose is less to be eaten as a separate course than to moisten the meat. The thick corn tortillas are made to order; you may wish to supplement your lamb with sturdy quesadillas stuffed with squash blossoms or the musky corn fungus huitlacoche.
The red chile salsa is truly mean, even if you have been weaned on Jitlada’s khua kling, and if you scoop up a drop or two too much, you will find yourself draining your michelada or fresh pulque more quickly than you thought possible, and then the little bowl of mild sopa de fideo that you had heretofore ignored. And then you are exhausted, sweaty and ready for another round.
La Barbacha’s lamb tacos are excellent, but what you probably want to do is order a pound of meat for every two people in your squad and construct the tacos yourself. If, like some people I know, you opt for the steamed lamb skulls instead, I get where you’re coming from, but you’re pretty much on your own.
2510 Caesar Chavez Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 264-1451.