Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tacolandia Presale! (Plus, Last Year's Event Recap)

LA Weekly's Tacolandia returns for its third year on Saturday, June 6! While regular ticket sales will open on March 9, you can get a head start for some presale tickets starting today when you go to this link and use the code TACOPIGS.

Now, the event is getting bigger and bigger. While last year's event boasts 45 taquerieas for $25, this year's $35 admission promises 80 vendors curated by Bill Esparza! 55 have been confirmed so far including Amor y Tacos, Taco Maria, Aqui es Texcoco, along with Tacolandia veterans. The VIP admission is $55 which includes a separate entrance, a gift bag, and a VIP area with its own bar.

Not convinced you should spend the day feasting on as many tacos as you physically can? Read below for last year's recap by @iam_robot:

Being a Los Angeles transplant the last 14 years of my life, I’d think I have bragging rights on where to find great tacos this world has to offer. But after attending Tacolandia and devouring 25 different Taco variations, I have a feeling I could be looking for the perfect taco the rest of my life – And this is what makes Taco so fascinating…the variations are infinite and in the world of Yelp & Instagram, greatest taqueros/ taqueras are investing insane amount of thought, craftsmanship and labor hours to create the world’s most interesting taco.

In the end, I have to admit Tacolandia is probably the best food event to attend in terms of fun and bang for your buck. Two thumbs up to Bill Esparza (world’s 1st tacorazzo) for carefully selecting 45 super star taqueros and chefs from Southern California/ Mexico who performed admirably, and many times, exceeding imaginations. I can’t be happier how interesting ingredients (smelt, sprinkles, tongue, etc) and weird food (dickhead, offals, grasshopper, etc) were served up to satiate adventurous eaters like me. Below are some of the tacos served that day:

Cochinita Pibil by Chef Tim Hollingsworth  (former Chef of the French Laundry) made the most visually stunning and delicious taco for the day.
 Tacolandia
Cochinita Pibil (Slow Roasted Pork) Taco is made with Oaxacan Corn Tortilla, Masa, Guacamole and crispy potato mole. Loved the interchanging flavors of heat and savory here.


Deep Fried Smelt Taco by Corazon Y Miel
  Tacolandia
Muy Delicioso! I had to get a 2nd serving. Love the combo of crema, poblano and heirloom tomato here…pretty much touched all the senses on my tongue. Also, the caviar inside the smelt was a pleasant surprise. Superb fish texture! Crispy on the outside, soft & juicy on the inside.

Cachete (Beef Cheeks) Taco by Colonia Taco Lounge   Tacolandia
Just another fantastic creation by Ricardo Diaz (former Chef & co-owner of Guisados). The filling is perfectly seasoned and braised for a very long time – so tender, it melted on my mouth. These juicy stings of meat are packed with homemade Chile Morita (smoked ripe jalapenos over a wood fire).

Lamb Barbacoa Taco & Chicken Mole Poblano on Cactus Tortilla by Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses
   Tacolandia
I've been a fan of Rocio’s for many years. For these tacos, gotta admit, while the fillings are good, I was quite disappointed with their tortillas. Cactus Tortilla veered more on the hard side and I didn’t get the crunch I expected. Anyways, they’re still very solid tacos – lamb was moist and tender while the chicken packs a lot of heat.

Smelt taco by Chef Katsuji Tanabe
  Tacolandia
See those sprinkles there? No Bueno! Had lots of expectations on this one since I’ve heard so many good things about MexiKosher chef Katsuji Tanabe – for some reason, this taco didn’t do it for me. The smelt felt a bit bland while the green salsa didn’t do much to enhance. The only saving grace on this plate is the pickled beets – sweet and tangy.

Pork Belly Carnitas Taco by Petty Cash Taqueria
  Tacolandia
What’s not to like? Pork Belly…fatty goodness! Guacamole and Salsa Verde…match made in heaven! Another solid taco from my favorite joint in LA! Something’s seriously wrong with you if you’ve never heard of Petty Cash Taqueria. Go drive there and order Ceviche Negro. It’ll change your life.

Braised Lengua Taco with pickled onions & radish sprouts by FIG
  Tacolandia
Definitely one of the shining stars today. Exquisite, simple, full of flavors. Yes, there is delicious taco west of the 405. I’ve eaten tongue all my life, never had a better one than this. This puts every lengua taco in LA (even those roach coaches in Highland Park) to shame.

Braised/Fried Nueskes Bacon with Quail Egg by Egg Slut   Tacolandia
This combo sounds like an episode from Epic Meal Time. Yes, I wanted to love this taco…I really do, but I can’t. The sum is not always greater than the parts. The Nueskes Bacon was flawless. Quail egg was stupendous. But the combo with salsa roja & pickled potato just didn’t work out for me. Felt very dissonant.

Sautéed Octopus Taco with Chickpea Hummus by Picca
  Tacolandia
Pork Taco, Potato Taco, Chicken Taco with crema, queso fresco, salsa verde by Mexicano  Tacolandia
Shrimp Taco Dorado by Mariscos Jaliscos – WINNER OF THE VENDY AWARD
   Tacolandia
At $25 for all you can eat tacos, I thought Tacolandia is a steal. No I didn’t regret eating 25 full sized tacos in 1 sitting…My only regret was that I wished I had the chance to give every vendor a congratulatory hug for crafting such an awesome event.

Pros: I never had to wait more than 10 minutes to get food, vendors don’t limit the amount of tacos, abundant supply of agua fresca, homemade habanero salsas were omnipresent, and food presentation are gorgeous – Instagram ready.
Cons: The non-VIP entrance line could be long but moved along rather quickly; the alcohol lines are ridiculous – expect 45 minutes wait; Promotional swags given were useless; It’s freaking HOT.

My all-star lineup would be: Corazon Y Miel’s Smelt Taco, Colonia Taco’s Beef Cheek, Chef Tim Hollingsworth’s Cochinita Pibil, FIG’s Lengua Taco and of course the legendary Beef Taquitos from Cielito Lindo.

2 comments:

Erwin Zavala

Hello, thank you for writing this but I have a question.
Does the cost of the entrance cover the food as well or you have to buy the food from the trucks/vendors?
If you do have to buy the food, around how much per taco?
Thank you!

gourmetpigs

Erwin: The cost covers all the food.

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