Long lines snaked around the Guerrilla Tacos and Mariscos Jalisco trucks. The intrepid trekked to the top of the hill for Mexicali Taco & Co.'s blue corn ghost chile tacos. And the in-the-know headed straight for the carnitas of Romulo "Momo" Acosta, hoping for a taco of just his pan drippings.
The finalists for Taco Madness 2014's Groupon-sponsored online tournament were Mariscos Jalisco and El Coraloense. And the winner? Mariscos specialist El Coraloense.
But this year's judges' pick for "best in show" was Acosta's Carnitas el Momo, known for the Guanajuato-style carnitas.
The Guerrilla Tacos menu from chef Wes Avila included wild boar, pork shoulder, fried golden beet and sweet potato tacos as well as a tostada of ahi poke, stone crab and avocado. Guerrilla's tacos of seared roasted sweet potatoes with squeaky Oaxacan cheese and crispy-fried pork shoulder with pork skin and tangy tomatillo salsa did not disappoint.
For the first time at the fest, Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla represented the Pueblan taco arabe with its thick pan arabe tortilla wrapped around marinated pork. And fans of Mariscos Jalisco of Boyle Heights faithfully waited for their crispy-fried shrimp tacos and ceviche-topped tostadas. Mexicali Taco & Co.'s blue corn tortillas topped with pork, guacamole, salsa, parsley and its ghost chile hot sauce drew fiends of the spicy.
But not to be missed were the tacos of Carnitas el Momo, which has a stand in South L.A. and a truck parked at Melrose and Vermont, on weekends only. The carnitas -- tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork cooked in its own fat in Acosta's copper pots -- is served plain-and-simple on tortillas. They stand alone. As do any and all other pork parts, including stomach, loin/rib meat and those migajas, or pan drippings ... [dreamy gaze].