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Los Angeles: Weekends-Only Carnitas at the Tacos Los Guichos Trailer

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[Photographs: Paul Bartunek]

At Tacos Los Guichos, carnitas is a weekend tradition. Well south of USC and just east of the 110 freeway, this long-standing trailer offers late-night eats to a hardworking mix of folks, all milling around in the gated parking lot of a car repair shop.

On most weeknight evenings, you can find the Los Guichos crew pumping $1.25 tacos to hungry hordes, using their grilled and well-seasoned carne asada to keep the crowds happy. They start early, those crowds, and tend to run long into the night. Eventually, the asada gives way to other cuts like a bright red chorizo or the suadero, which is fattier here and comes off a bit gristly at times. Come the weekend, it's all about the pork.

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On Saturdays and Sundays, Los Guichos pulls out a massive steel vat, perfect for slow-cooking large hunks of pork over a propane flame. The tender shoulder cuts are left to marinate and stew in a subtle blend of spices, eventually producing large pork chunks with crispy skin and amazingly tender interior. The bulbous bites are left to sit in a large strainer over the same steel vat, but never manage to last long.

It's an entirely separate operation from the usual nighttime trailer, with one cook manning the vat and proving the desired cuts to the neverending lines that arrive with the weekend carnitas. He cooks and selects and chops the carnitas himself, a single-man pork operation that rivals any swine currently being cooked in the city.

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In fact, the weekend-only carnitas are so popular that you can buy the meat by the pound (for $9). This ain't locally-raised, grass-fed NY strip, but there's no beating the slow-cooked, deeply flavorful carnitas at Tacos Los Guichos. And for $9 a pound, you can afford to store some in your fridge for later. They'll even throw in a few hand-pressed tortillas, made fresh on the truck while you wait.

This is pork done on another level with an impossibly well-cooked skin and the satisfyingly meaty bites that most people couldn't hope to achieve with their Dutch ovens and a lot of practice. A couple of carnitas tacos will only set you back half a fiver.

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A mix of fragrant onions, warm and smooth salsa verde and the complex flavors of the long-simmering carnitas combine to make this one of the best tacos in Los Angeles. Just make sure to show up on a day that begins with the letter S.

Tacos Los Guichos may not have the eye of the larger taco-eating population, but that's due more to their proximity than their product. For most, this isn't an area of Los Angeles that comes up often on Google Maps, but maybe it should. Despite the anything-goes neighborhood, Los Guichos is already serving up some of the best carnitas in town to a waiting line that just keeps getting longer. Better grab a spot soon.

Tacos Los Guichos

Corner of Avalon and Slauson, Los Angeles 90003 (map)

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