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Los Angeles: Don't Go to Pink Taco for the Tacos

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For better or worse, Pink Taco is the pure distillation of a certain kind of Los Angeles. Both the Century City outlet and the new location on The Sunset Strip reek of money, celebrity, and Mexican food.

The dine-in taco spot has a reputation for controversy, and the playboy millionaire who runs the joint also owns longtime music haunt The Viper Room. The music is almost as loud as the pink paint on the walls, and the rich mix of hipkids and power lunchers keeps the place propped up until late in the evening.

So, how do the $16 carne asada tacos stack up? Answering that question requires a bit of conversation first.

Pink Taco is not El Chato or the La Estrella truck, venerable street taco institutions with the goods to back up the claims. Pink Taco is also not El Compadre or El Cholo, where heavy platters of beans and something covered in salsa verde are passed around in dimly lit booths. What Pink Taco is, is atmosphere.

Walking into the newly opened West Hollywood location, you are almost immediately led back outside, to patio tables that overlook The Sunset Strip as well as the valet station. If you're facing the street, a fun game to play is "which guy in the white v-neck owns the Maserati." You'll get more opportunities to guess than you think.

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The menu is reasonably extensive, moving casually from enchiladas and burritos to fajitas, quesadillas, full plates and those namesake tacos. The results, however, may not be exactly what you had in mind. The carne asada is still grilled skirt steak, but it comes in large, meaty chunks, each one practically a bite unto itself. The meat is warm and lightly seasoned, but doesn't stand much of a chance past the squirt of guacamole, sour cream and heavy cheese.

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The eponymous pink taco, more than just a less-than-clever wink to diners, is a corn tortilla lined with black beans and topped with grilled chicken, a slice of avocado and flourished with pickled pink onions. The chicken is surprisingly smoky and flavorful, while the vinegar'd onions give a nice zip to balance against the fattiness of the avocado. The crispy brisket fared the worst of the three, with a juicy brisket base that needed a lot more pop. Unfortunately, the dash of cojita cheese and approximately two pounds of lettuce weren't enough to help matters.

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The thing is, you're not really going to Pink Taco for the tacos. So why bother? Instead, head straight for the fried ice cream. Large, decadent, and a perfect mix of salt and fat and creamy and crunch (all with a caramel glaze) it's likely the best single item on the menu. Besides the tequila that is.

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As a taqueria, Pink Taco barely fills the reasonable requirements, falling more closely into "drink spot that happens to have a kitchen" category. Even if your blood boils just driving by the overwrought pink building, it's hard to hate on the menu simply because none of the tacos take a strong enough stand either way. But what you will get lots of at Pink Taco is atmosphere. Whether you like it or not.

Pink Taco

9225 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90046
pinktaco.com

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