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Los Angeles: Beto's Taco Truck for Reliable $1 Tacos

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[Photographs: Paul Bartunek]

If nothing else, the Beto's Tacos truck on Washington Boulevard is a model of consistency. On those cold nights in the doldrums of the work week, when your other Mid-City taco alternatives have turned their backs on you, Beto's is there under the golden glow of Redondo Liquor, parked along the back wall and probably siphoning off some electricity from inside. Nothing fancy, but always reliable; their tacos taste the exact same way.

Standing just off the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Redondo Boulevard and within earshot of the 10 freeway, Beto's did exactly what most other taco trucks do when first starting out: They simply showed up. And they kept showing up, in the same liquor store parking lot, slowly pulling in a neighborhood surrounded by tasty taco options, but looking for something walkable. It's a short drive to Tacos Leo on Venice or up to El Chato, but on Friday and Saturday nights, Beto's has the same $1 taco prices, half the line, and packs just enough flavor to keep you interested.

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Peering through the large glass window, with the al pastor trompo swinging slowly around a low-lit flame, you'd be forgiven for a getting a little excited. Scanning over the long, shimmering plancha, loaded for bear with meats of choice and double-stacked tortillas, it's understandable that you might feel a touch impatient in the tiny line. The array of protein options—asada, al pastor, buche, cabeza, suadero, carnitas and more—might have you cracking a smile once you finally make it to the "orderne aqui" window.

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Walking away, you're probably satisfied, but that's about it. There are wonderful handfuls of chorizo here, glistening with greasy flavor and crunchy little edges. But, where is the heat? Where are the deeply smoky bits of juicy pork to warm the Spanish core that hides in all of us? Under a blend of chopped cilantro and diced white onions, with a few vigorous lashings of bright red salsa roja, the chorizo takes on a subtler, more nuanced appreciation. At least there is balance here, and you won't need napkins for your runny nose or cool horchata to maintain order.

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If you're just looking to fill up the tank, the carne asada certainly won't break the flavor bank, but will still get you where you need to go. The only real meat option with some oomph behind it is the cabeza; moist chunks of fatty beef, stewed and salted, bring out the deep beefiness that the carne asada lacks. The onions allow for a textural crunch, and a heaping spoonful of the unexpectedly spicy salsa verde packs its own brand of taste bud power. Still, this is kid's stuff compared to the authentic taquerias that line the streets of East LA.

It's not exactly as if Beto's Tacos is the only spot for late-night Mexican eats in this section of Mid City, less than a mile from where a few long time taco gems stand ready for your order. It's just that it's often the most convenient, and there's a price to pay for such conveniences. But, under the familiar hum of Redondo Liquor's golden signage, there's also something to be said for simple satisfaction.

Beto's Taco Truck

Corner of Redondo Blvd. / Washington Blvd., Mid-City; Los Angeles CA 90016 (map)

About the author: Farley Elliott is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. He frequently blogs about burgers at Beef and Bun and covers the LA comedy scene for LAist.com.

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