Ah, The Valley. Your never-ending landscape has been immortalized on celluloid by the likes of Tarantino and P.T. Anderson. You've been lauded in songs spanning generations and you've even spawned your own caricature: the lazy, nasally, monied blonde. Things can get a little weird in The Valley, and their tacos are no exception.
At the Tacos La Fonda truck in North Hollywood, the quirks just keep on coming. Sure, they've mastered the tried and true "park in front of a car wash" taco truck staple, but just about everything else is up for grabs.
The first thing you're likely to notice at Tacos La Fonda (that's "La Fonda," not "LaFawnduh") is the catering van that pulls the trailer around. Despite being emblazoned with advertisements for hand-made churros, you won't find a single one for sale on the truck. What a sweets tease.
The next eye-catching thing should perk you right up, though. There, behind the steamy pane of glass, is a stoic woman with wrists the size of tree trunks making all of the night's tortillas by hand. While not uncommon at many brick-and-mortar taquerias around town, such a sight is a rarity inside the city's trucks.
The menu board at Tacos La Fonda is relatively tame, ranging from carne asada and al pastor to tripa (intestines), buche (stomach), cabeza (head meat) and lengua (tongue). Once prepared, the tacos emerge from the pick-up window with a noticeable heft. The tortillas are wide, yawning affairs stuffed well with your choice of carne alongside chopped onions and cilantro. If you order the cabeza (or simply ask), you can also find yourself with a plate full of sweetly grilled onions.
Here's where things get interesting again: the salsa bar at Tacos La Fonda is home to a small army of buckets, each one containing something unique. An array of red and green salsas, some pico de gallo, halved limes, and... shredded lettuce?
Sour cream? For all of the authentic uniqueness of the homemade tortillas and griddled onions, an overflowing bucket of sour cream just seems out of place.
The truth is, everything at Tacos La Fonda has its place. The salsas are warm reminders of heat while the array of meats offers salty, porky, buttery bites all in their turn. For not having a true al pastor spit, the large marinated bites of red-tinged pork were a highlight.
When things didn't go so smoothly—say, on an oversized bite of asada—a dab of sour cream is just what you need. Creamy and smooth, a splash of the white stuff does wonders for your thicker, handmade tacos without overpowering the seared-in seasonings. It sure doesn't take long before all of the elements come together.
Tacos La Fonda is quirky, good-natured, and at $1.50 for a generous taco on a handmade tortilla, cheap for what you get.
Tacos La Fonda
Northwest corner of Vanowen and Vineland in the carwash parking lot
North Hollywood, CA 91617 (map)