Get to Know Us: Farley Elliott, Los Angeles Taco Correspondent
Editor's note: There are approximately a gazillion taco destinations in Los Angeles, and Farley has made it his mission to eat all the good ones. Every Tuesday he talks tacos with us, whether deep-fried shrimp tacos from a truck or late-night chorizo tacos from a taqueria next to a car wash. So what else is Farley into besides tacos? He's here to tell you. —The Mgmt.
Guilty pleasures? I used to intern late nights at the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy theater, and every week I'd drive by the El Chato taco truck on my way home at 1 a.m. There are few things worse for you than a greasy, cheesy al pastor quesadilla at 1 a.m., but that never stopped me. Oh, and peanut butter straight from the jar. Like, a LOT.
Describe your perfect meal. If you could airlift me a Shake Shack double cheeseburger, a Hofmann natural casing German hot dog (an upstate NY necessity), an al pastor taco from Tacos Tamix on Pico Blvd. and a Delirium Tremens beer, it wouldn't really matter where I ate it. Death row meal? I'd do the crime to make that happen.
What food won't you eat? People are always surprised to hear that I don't like steak. There's something about that chewy meat texture that turns me off. Otherwise, if you can grind it up, shave it off a spit or roast it in an oven, I'm game.
Favorite food person? Former Iron Chef Eric Greenspan. I love his restaurant on Melrose, The Foundry. Everything is really inventive and a little bit excessive. He does a burger that uses four Hawaiian sweet rolls, cut through the middle and grilled, as the bun. Plus, he's always stirring up the LA scene with challenges to the other chefs around town, like when he tried to out-fried-chicken the master himself, Ludo Lefebvre.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I moved to LA from a very small town in northern New York, and was blown away by the food choices here. I immediately fell in love with Mexican food and spent my first year here eating at around 120 different taco trucks. But it wasn't until I started logging them on a Google Maps that I realized I might have a problem.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I get emails and texts from my friends every day asking about where to eat. So, they're pretty pumped about it. I try to keep the snooty chef discussions or tableside photo-blogging to a minimum, so that seems to help. As for my family, they're a steak-and-potatoes kinda group, so they don't mind that I'm eating my way through Los Angeles, they just wish they could pronounce half the things I put in my body.
Favorite food sites or blogs (besides SE)? I read GrubStreet every day for all of the dirty dish on the LA food scene, and I'm fairly obsessed with Elina Shatkin's work for LA Weekly. Her 30-day food missions make me want to FedEx her an engagement ring, just so we don't waste any more time together.
Who's your go-to person for restaurant recommendations? I don't have Jonathan Gold on speed dial (working on it), so it would have to be my friend Phoebe. She's usually first on the scene at all the ritzy places I'm too scared to try, and her knowledge of San Gabriel Valley Chinese food makes me insanely jealous.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I choose "late night eats." I moonlight as a comedian, so I'm usually crawling out of a show around midnight desperate for a drink and a bite to eat. Thankfully, there are a gazillion taco stands, trucks, tables and carts waiting for my money. If I'm looking to branch out, the Thai noodle dishes at Sanamluang Café always hit the spot. Or maybe a bacon-wrapped hot dog if I'm in Hollywood. Whatever pumps up the ol' cholesterol, really.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I love to cook, although I'm no good at slavishly following recipes. These days, I have a moderate fascination with the fried egg, in all of its forms. Usually, I'll whip up some sort of breakfast sandwich concoction and let the sunny side up yolk run everywhere, but I've been known to throw an egg over a tamale or go old school, toad-in-the-hole style.
If you woke up tomorrow as a food, what would it be? If science required a strand of DNA to begin cloning me, you could mix mine up with some hamburger DNA and probably still end up with a perfect replica. I'll spare you the taste-to-character comparisons, but suffice it to say the word 'beefy' would get thrown around a lot.