Taco Tuesday: Vampiro
If you've been to Mexicali Taco & Co., either the old taco table down on Beaudry or the tidy new storefront on Figueroa where it flows into the Pasadena Freeway, you know about their namesake Mexicali tacos: sizzling nubbins of chopped carne asada -- flame-grilled! -- packed into fat flour tortillas they bring up from Baja a couple of times a week. You sprinkle them with pickled onions, moisten them with fluid taqueria guacamole and a spoonful of habanero salsa, and you're good to go; there's nothing quite like them in Los Angeles. Who wouldn't want a well executed Mexicali-style taco? You can even get a vegan one if that's your thing.
But like everybody else who visits Mexicali Taco & Co., I am obsessed with the vampiros, rather larger flour tortillas folded over chorizo, chicken or carne asada, maybe all three, as well as a squirt or two of garlic sauce and what can technically be described as a boatload of gooey, stretchy melted Mexican cheese. (A vampiro is supposedly a creature of Sinaloa, although I've seen them in Guadalajara and they are apparently endemic in northern Baja at the moment. I refuse to take sides.) Think of a CPK-size pizza folded in half, only a million times better. A folded pizza you can have with giant grilled guero chiles -- chiles dusted with dried chiles! -- if such is your pleasure. Or really, about a pint of that taqueria guacamole.
"I've dreamed of this my entire life,'' says my 9-year-old. "A quesadilla with meat!''
702 N. Figueroa Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 613-0416, mexicalitaco.com
-- Jonathan Gold
Photo: A Mexicali Taco & Co. vampiro. Credit: Jonathan Gold / Los Angeles Times